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Simplicity: The Ultimate Sophistication

by Tropicsurf Blog January 23, 2020

Words by Director of Tropicsurf, Ross Phillips

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Da Vinci 

It’s Summertime here Down Under (Australia) which for surfers generally means small waves, warm water and lots of peeps clogging the fall lines. 

So, I say it’s no time to take yourself too seriously.

Grab a small-wave, fun board, paddle out and try some fresh thinking.

single fin maldivesNeed a cure for the summertime blues? Dust off your single fin, draw some old school lines and reacquaint yourself with the fun side of surfing (image credit Sean Scott)

Improving your technique to become a more exciting surfer does take years of perseverance. Possibly up to ten thousand hours according to the intellectuals. However, there’s one thing that you can do right now, this very day, in order to look better on a wave. 

What’s that?


The art of simplicity, when performed by a master, is something to behold.  Image credit Paul Smith

So many surfers with limited ability frequently appear far too busy on the wave. Sure, they might be having a good time, but it looks terrible don’t you think? They’re overly busy, trying too hard, weighted in all the wrong places and puffing their cheeks out to the max. Ugly. 

If this is you (yes slap me because I’m guilty of it too), then try to just relax on the wave. Stand up tall. Drop the shoulders. Limp the wrists. Hey – even a little soul arch could be thrown in. Sure – if a lip presents itself for a spanking, then belt it by all means. But choose your opportunities. You’re not in a contest and ten hectic turns will never outscore one big, clean one. At least not in the style ratings.

So please – keep it simple!

Less is more.

Economy of motion.

Minimal excessive body movement.

Kai LennyKai Lenny swooping effortlessly toward the pocket, weighted in all the right places (image credit Zak Noyle)

Rob Machado floaterRob Machado showing finesse as he caresses the lip rather than opting to launch skyward (image credit Sean Scott)

Joel Parkinson’s has an ability to make the critical look simple, seen here exercising total control through a textbook arc. (image credit Nolan Omura)

Doing nothing is something that can be learned quickly, and you can become a more stylish surfer immediately. 

Remember - simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

(And if you’re reading this with a cold, Northern Hemisphere, groundswell thumping at your doorstep – well lucky you.) 



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