Does hustling in the surf make it more enjoyable?

Surfer’s are a greedy breed. When your everyday surfer hits the line-up, they are usually hellbent on getting as many waves as physically possible within ‘their’ session. So greedy are surfer’s that they usually don’t celebrate or tilt their hat to a fellow surfer or friend when they are taking off on a nice looking wave, instead thinking “ damn that should be me on that wave”. All surfer’s are guilty of this at some point during their time in the ocean, even the most chilled and easy going of the bunch. To compensate for a potential lack of waves in a session, many surfers resort to a personality that turns them into an annoyance or ‘hustler’ in the surf, which may not always be part of their temperament on land. Hustling in the surf may result in more waves, but does hustling really make a session more enjoyable?


You can’t be the GOAT, without some hustling along the way. Joel v Kelly, Quiksilver Pro Final, Kirra, 2012.

In respect to the hustler, sometimes it does pay the dividends, resulting in more waves, maybe more tubes, turns and incidences of “3 to the beach”. Sometimes hustling can leave a satisfied feeling within one surfer’s soul, knowing they have squeezed the most out of a session. Sometimes hustling is even essential in places like the Gold Coast and Southern California, where just about everyone in the line-up is hustling to make the most of the limited waves compared to the amount of people. In this case the craft of hustling may in fact make a surf more enjoyable, as if you don’t confirm to the majority of hustlers in the water, you’ll be left with no waves ridden, and no one likes that! So yes, hustling in some instances may lead to a more enjoyable surf, most notably in those super crowded conditions where everyone is jockeying and fighting over every rideable ripple. However, this does not mean that hustling leads to a more enjoyable surf every time you hit the water. In my unvalidated opinion, I would say hustling is not essential in any session, except maybe in the ones mentioned above. Hustling isn’t pretty and is one of the most hated qualities of surfer’s, even by the ones hustling themselves.


Always some hustling going on in crowded line-ups like this // @helio_antonio

People who surf are usually accustomed to the unwritten laws of waiting for priority, not snaking and dropping in. In most relaxed surf spots these rules apply and if you wait your turn, you will get your share of the waves, even amongst the locals. Even more so if everyone in the line-up at that given time acknowledges and follows these set of basic rules. But once one or two hustlers become involved, things get complicated. This leads to hustling and jockeying by surfer’s who were previously waiting their turn. Soon enough everyone is hustling, tensions ride high and that greedy side of the surfer emerges with full force. In these cases you may even notice that you get less waves hustling, then what you did whilst waiting your turn, happens to me all the time. So less hustling, equals more waves, surely not? If not, a surf is still much more enjoyable when you’re relaxed in the ocean, waiting your turn and picking off waves anyway. If everyone was aware of what I just very basically laid out, I believe surfing would be much more enjoyable as a whole for everyone. Of course other factors can sometimes be at play, but if you go into the line-up in a relaxed mood, and assume your fellow surfers are on the same wavelength, generally you’ll find that surfing will be much more enjoyable for you and the people around you. Plus have you ever noticed how the good waves seem to come to people who are the most easy-going, relaxed and respectful in the line-up. So hustle less, smile and enjoy your time in the water more, that’s all folks.

Further Insights:

Words – Sam Shearer

Cover Photo – Olly Fawcett