October 16, 2021

Joe Jacobi on Bigger Waves

Longtime friend of the list, Joe Jacobi, wrote in with some reflections on the wave metaphors Justin Jackson made in his recent appearance on Ditching Hourly.

Joe won an Olympic gold medal in whitewater slalom canoeing and was named ‘Paddler of the Century’ in 2000, so... I think he knows a thing or two about waves :-) (shared with permission):

Bon Dia, Jonathan!

I enjoyed this conversation a lot - the water analogies (both surfing and the river) naturally strike a chord with me as sometime I think my true first language is the river.

Along those lines, as we use these fabulous analogies, I think it’s worth pointing something out when we are "looking for the good waves to surf." (This can be applied 1000% to the river analogy as well.)

I think this kind of metaphorical language often sets up the "find the big wave" mentality. I love the big waves but I think they are widely misunderstood. Or maybe better said, I think the way we learn the surf big waves is really misunderstood.

We don’t get better at big wave surfing by looking for big waves. We get better by absolutely learning to shred small waves.

This is important because small waves are more frequent and more accessible. You get much more "game time" on waves with much less consequence of injury with smaller waves.

You learn better technique, better balance, better feel for the water, better control, etc - all of which translates to nearly the same skillsets used on larger waves with the exception of more consequence for making a mistake.

Small waves surfed every day will move the needle and build an amazing base. Maybe less sexy and less interesting on social media videos but rarely do I hear people speak about catching waves or navigating river currents in this way when using this analogy.

Just some reflections from here.

Hope this finds you well, my friend, and heading into a great weekend.

With gratitude, -Joe

Great perspective!

Thanks, Joe 👍