The Surf Strong Show

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Alo Slebir discusses his training and focus during the off-season as a big wave surfer. He emphasizes the importance of training out of the water and striving to be better in order to perform well in the next winter season.

He also talks about his circuit workouts, which include a mix of CrossFit and balance work. Alo explains the difference between off-season and in-season training, with a focus on building muscle mass in the off-season and maintaining paddle muscles during the season. 

He also discusses the mental and physical challenges of big wave surfing, the importance of decompressing after a big day, and the role of jiu-jitsu in his training and mindset.

Alo highlights the connection between surfing and the ocean, and the importance of staying connected to the ocean in his life. He also talks about his tow partnership with Luca Padua and the trust and communication required in that relationship.

Alo shares his experience of learning and surfing Mavericks, and the challenges and rewards of pursuing big wave surfing. In this conversation, Greg and Alo discusses the intricacies of big wave surfing and the mental and physical preparation required. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the variables involved in surfing, such as swell direction and wave size, and the constant learning process that comes with it.

Alo also highlights the lifelong pursuit of improving surfing skills and the need to remain focused and calm in challenging situations. He shares insights into the safety protocols and checklists followed before tackling big waves, as well as the importance of the Junior Lifeguard program in fostering a love for the ocean. 

Takeaways

  • Repetitive training and striving to be better are key to performing well in the next winter season as a big wave surfer.
  • Circuit workouts, including a mix of CrossFit and balance work, help keep the mind preoccupied and the body fit.
  • In the off-season, the focus is on building muscle mass, while during the season, the focus is on maintaining paddle muscles.
  • Jiu-jitsu is a valuable sport for big wave surfers, as it teaches problem-solving skills and helps with ocean awareness.
  • Staying connected to the ocean is important for mental and physical well-being as a big wave surfer.
  • Trust and communication are crucial in a tow partnership, and the relationship is built on shared goals and similar mindsets.
  • Learning and surfing Mavericks involves adapting and overcoming challenges, as well as developing a deep understanding of the wave and its lineups. Big wave surfing requires a deep understanding of variables such as swell direction and wave size.
  • Surfing is a lifelong pursuit that involves constant learning and improvement.
  • Remaining focused and calm is crucial in challenging situations.
  • Safety protocols and checklists are followed before tackling big waves.
  • The Junior Lifeguard program plays a vital role in fostering a love for the ocean and preparing young surfers.

Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Off-Season Training

07:41 Maintaining Focus and Recovery

13:49 The Importance of the Ocean Connection

33:35 Remaining Calm and Focused in High-Pressure Situations

38:37 The Comparison of Surfing and Driving

46:17 Preparing for Big Waves: The Checklist and Safety Measures

50:42 Gaining Confidence in Smaller Waves

54:50 The Impact of the Junior Lifeguard Program

Full Transcript


That's a nice backdrop right there, actually. Perfect backdrop. Sometimes people will come on and I'll be politely like, OK, well, maybe we'll just move that box of stuff. You got a nice little outside backdrop there. It's great. Exactly. It's too nice not to be outside today. Yeah, for sure. At least I'll do this outside. Yeah, for sure. Well, thanks for joining us, man. I really appreciate you taking the time to do it. Yeah, of course.

So let's just kind of jump right into it. So, you know, I actually pushed out that, you were going to be on and I kind of was asking just different places and, you know, friends and other things and just got some questions coming back and we'll kind of sprinkle those in throughout, but being that this is kind of a surf specific show and you know, people always looking to up their own performance and do that. Having somebody like you on that is at such a pinnacle of performance on such.

I mean, saying it's a technical wave, you know, we'll talk about obviously Mavericks and talk about the words and stuff, but just pushing yourself in those zones. I would love to just start with. We're kind of in our obviously big wave off season here in California and just talk a little bit about what you actually do in the off season. So like what your training's like, but also kind of talk about how you keep your focus.

to train in these off times that I'm sure is very critical to be able to perform in season. How do you keep that focus with what we were talking about before we kind of got on the call, which was life, going grocery shopping and doing all these things that kind of take our attention. Like, how do you keep your focus there?

Well, first and foremost, we all go stir crazy as big wave surfers in the summer. And I can speak for a lot of people upon that. You have this adrenaline rush, right? All for four or five months. And then you come out for the dump and it's you get the high of highs and then you get the low lows, but you keep striving for that high for next winter. In a sense, we, I call our call ourselves adrenaline junkies.

It's interesting. You keep that focus a lot within just repetitive training. The more training I do in the summer, the better I feel. So whether it's, you know, jujitsu, long distance paddling, I mean, just did the circuit workout right before the show. a lot of those things that keep your mind preoccupied are the number one, I believe. And then also.

striving to be better. So next winter, right? You want to get a bigger wave. You want to ride a better wave. You know that you're, you're, you're able to do that, but you have to keep your body able as well. Your mental can stay strong, but you also need to keep your body at the same level as your mental and vice versa as well. Yeah, that's great. So, so let's go, let's, let's break it down a little bit more. Like you just talked about doing the circuit right before, like,

Tell me exactly what you did. Like what was your circuit and tail? So my good buddy and I, Nat Young, we do a lot of these up at my house, up on the hill. And it's kind of a mix of CrossFit and balance work. So we do a lot of, you know, from burpees to sprints to fireman carries, and then a lot of abs, V -ups, a lot of RDLs.

I'm just trying to stay balanced, but mixing it all together to where you get that heart rate coming up. And we normally do, depending on the day, if it's legs or arms and shoulders, we'll do nine to 10 reps and then we'll do nine to 10 sets as well. So it's a lot of, you know,

You're trying to break your body down and your mental down and trying to really push yourself. But then at the same time, kind of attacking every little pinpoint that allows you to stay fit, but also surf fit. Cause there is a difference. You don't want to get too stiff. You don't want to, there's all these little components. So I think those helped me a lot in keeping my cardio up and then also keeping my, my muscle growth up as well. Yeah. And you probably,

push a little bit more of that hypertrophy or putting on muscle mass and off season, right? Because it probably, as you're going into the season, you back off quite a bit of your resistance training, I would imagine. Yeah. In the winter, I don't lift pretty much any weight besides very, very little dynamic movement. The most I'll go is probably 20, 25 pounds. And then in the summer, then you do your

you're as you were saying, your dynamic weightlifting and then also the circuit work you're trying to build back your your components because you do you don't lose them in the winter, but you just gain more of the muscles that you use for surfing, but you want to keep your body healthy and fit. And so like you said in the summer, we kind of build that back. Yeah, yeah. And it would be interesting. This kind of goes into

more into the season part, but just what you said there about like your body, of course, is a machine. So, right. It's looking for efficiency. So it's streamlining like, okay, now we're surfing more. So these muscles, you know, our shoulders and, you know, up into like all of our paddle muscles and some of those other things, we're going to build those or maintain what we're going to streamline where we need to do on some of those other things. So do you find that as you do that into some of your season?

what I'm leading into is there's probably stretches of time where if you're towing into a lot of waves, do you have to really make sure that you're getting some paddling in or is it interspersed enough that you're maintaining all of those paddle muscles as well? You're maintaining and surprisingly enough and tow surfing is almost harder on your shoulders and on your upper body than paddling.

If you would imagine that hold and all that static, you're getting tugged as going 30, 30 miles an hour, getting whipped around and you know, your tow partner is also as eager as you are to get these waves. So it's not like you're going slow and you need to be going. I need your turn to be over. So it's my turn again. Yeah, exactly. I need my waves. but you do need to be going fast enough to plane because if you're not planning, it does make it more difficult on your body.

And so yeah, the shoulders and everything. I mean, yeah, we abuse our shoulders all winter for sure. Yeah, I guess. I mean, to think about that, you're not really getting much range of motion. You're just holding and that resistance is just almost like sitting there having to like hold 25, 30 pounds in just a static posture like that. Yeah, exactly. And then when there's sometimes what happens is you get slack in the rope.

If you're trying to make a turn and then it's really like a big push and a pull, right? You're just trying to stay compact as possible so you don't rip your shoulders out. So it keeps your biceps, your back, everything still engaged. So like you were saying, paddling, it goes hand in hand, I think. So when you're in season like that and that's happening, obviously you are

pushing all of this adrenaline into these times and having to come down. And obviously if there's a swell pushing, you're getting multiple days in a row. How do you decompress from that mentally after a really big day that you're just so pumped through that whole time? Physically tired, you have to recover. How do you mentally decompress but still give your body that recovery it needs, whether it's a, you know,

flow of some yoga postures that you do or something like how do you balance those two things knowing that like You're just gonna start ramping back up again knowing it's coming tomorrow again That's really tricky because and I'm still trying to learn that honestly and I think a lot of people are because we had days where it was three or four days in a row and The problem is is the adrenaline right? You're

your body's still moving off to the adrenaline. It's kind of hard to describe, but you can't sleep as well. You can't, you know, there's a lot of components. So what we normally try to do is get out of our wetsuits, eating proper meal, a lot of steak, a lot of, you know, fats and avocado and olive oil and eating as well as possible. And then trying to go to bed at a decent hour is also key.

Greg Finch (09:13.326)
because you are waking up at four in the morning again and you're going to do it repetitive for three or four days. So I think for now it's like out of the wetsuit, into a sauna, something to decompress a little bit, eat a really, really well -made dinner that is homemade and you know, it's ready and it's nutritious and you don't have any, none of the junk. And then sleeping, getting your full eight hours, nine hours.

Hopefully, I mean, I always say that, but you know, when it's really big the next day, you hardly sleep. I will say that. It's probably some of it too is just the routine of it. Like, okay, I've done these things. It's now bedtime. Like I need to go get into bed. Maybe I'm not going to sleep as soundly as I want, but I have to do that routine to let my mind and body know like this is happening. Cause otherwise you could, you would probably just ride that. It would probably just trail, trail, trail all the way through. Yeah. And then.

Like I was explaining, if there is a break between the swells, let's say a week, you do get that dump. You could get that adrenaline dump. So normally for me, it's not the day after that I'm tired. It's two or three days later that you still feel it and you're still decompressing from that such a high that you'll wake up and you're like, wow, I'm exhausted. You could do a workout the next day and feel fine. But.

two days later, you're, you're beat. Yeah. You could unpack that so much with just the psychology of it, right? Just in that primal part of it of like, you're putting your, your mind and body in positions that it's rightfully wanting to reject as truly dangerous. So the survival, all of this kicks into this and you're riding that.

And then when that comes down, yeah, it's spent in just a such a, it's like emotionally drained too. I would imagine just everything firing and then that like, so let's talk about that. So before we get into the specifics of, because obviously a lot of the questions and what we want to talk about is like just the experience, like you're, you're the elite of the elite, like that experience of going down the face of that way, very few people, even though there's a lot more than there used to be.

Greg Finch (11:36.014)
Very few people are ever going to experience that. So I want to talk about that. But what, what I'm really interested in too, because it's, it's what I do is how you manage all of those things away from that, right? It's like away from the arena. Like we see these waves and it's just amazing. But then it's like, after that comes off and after you've talked about the crash after the season, like have you started to develop better tools of like, okay, I have to occupy myself with.

you know, volunteering at this or being involved with this, like to both keep your mind active again, but also just like to reposition a little bit about, I don't know who you are, maybe I don't know how the best way to say it. Yeah. Yeah. As, as a big wave surfer, you, your life revolves around it, right? So in the wintertime, that's all you think about, that's all you want to do. But in the summertime, we do have other things like,

We have a nonprofit that myself and some others run and we do long distance paddles. And we just did one, it's called the Davenport Downwinder. Unfortunately this year we did not have much wind. It just happened on May 11th. It's 14 miles of gruesome paddling, but that's kind of what occupies my head space. One of the factors that occupies my head space is training to do that.

You want to do as well as possible in the race. And it's not, it's not about, you know, really getting first or second or third. That's not how we roll or, but it's more just completing the paddle and feeling good about doing the paddle. So, and here in Santa Cruz, we have, I would say some of the best downwind paddling that there is in California. And so myself and my dad, my dad's still

hammering them out with me and we'll do eight miles in the evening and it's just, you know, downwind, amazing. It's pretty, you're a mile out to sea. No music, no noise, no nothing. And I think that's what keeps me a little sane too, is you're moving your body and you're doing something in the ocean. For me, it's always just about doing something in the ocean every day.

Greg Finch (13:58.446)
That's what keeps me sane. That connection with the ocean is huge. And I think people take that for granted. Like, yeah, you can train as much as you want in the gym and really get strong. But if you lose that connection with the ocean and you jump right back into it and say, Hey, I'm going to go surf a, you know, a 20 foot wave. Yeah, you could do it. Some people really can pull it off. But for me personally, I need to have that touch, that feel that.

that ocean awareness, ocean knowledge, you're using your brain every time you go surf. As much as you think you're not, you know which wave you want to get, you identify which wave you want to get, and that's just continually using those things that you've learned since, for myself, a child, right? And it keeps firing those, keep firing, keep firing, keep firing, because when those waves do come and they do get big, you can identify the good and the bad.

And that's huge also in big wave surfing because certain waves, if they are bad, if they're, you're in bad positioning, you're in a bad situation, you might, you know, you'll pay the consequence. So I think touching the ocean, being in the ocean really keeps my head space, in a straight line and on the beaten path. Yeah. And I, I feel that so much like talking to, you know, non -surfers is.

or it comes up what I do or something in this conversation. And sometimes I'll get a question, something along, it's like, well, why? Why surfing? Right? That's such an impossible question to really answer. But it comes down to the essence of what you're saying is, especially as I've gotten older, it's the thing that keeps me connected to the ocean and that feeling of being there. We all want waves, but they really are a bonus.

just like just last week, my daughter 16 and she was like, dad, do you want to take me and her friend Alana? Do you want to take me and Alana like out like, just play around in the water? And I was like, I had like three or four meetings scheduled. I'm like, yeah, definitely. Like reschedule everything like just to go out there and like putting fins on and body circumference, all spring winds and cold. And it was like, I had a blast. And it's like never losing that part of it because.

Greg Finch (16:21.87)
That's the part that will sustain you no matter what the specifics are. Like I want to surf for the rest of my life, but I really just want to stay connected to the ocean for the rest of my life. Exactly. And having that part of it. And then you add the element of like the paddle. It's like, that's community too, right? Yep. It's, it's being part of something in the ocean with other people and maybe introducing people to something that are never going to have the skills to be as good as you are as a big wave surfer. But.

they can do this and maybe they've never done that before. Like that's just beautiful. It's awesome. And it makes you feel like you're, you know, you're always a piece in something bigger, but it within that bigger notion of life, you can kind of find your people and make your own group. Right. And I think the ocean's so big that sometimes you can feel alone in it. But when you bring some people within it,

It's really cool because you get to share that experience. And yeah, it's not only that too, outside of the ocean, I've found a lot of that in Jiu -Jitsu. I started training Jiu -Jitsu almost five years ago now and I've kind of had a lot of relations to the ocean with it in a sense of you're in an uncomfortable position and you have to breathe and get out of it.

And in doing it for not very long compared to many of the people that I've done it with, you start to realize how good they are at doing that. And it's just about keeping calm. And it's the same thing with big wave surfing. You're in a very, very uncomfortable position. But the minute that you take your breath and you realize that you're going to be okay, you just need to think, okay, how do I get out of this? It's the exact same thing. So I've found that Jiu -Jitsu has really helped me.

with that as well. And it's something that I was bad at. You know, when you're, when you're a kid and you grow up in the ocean, you start to almost, you know, besides Mavericks and those spots, but smaller waves, you're like, okay, like I start to understand this. And, but when you start to do something that you're really a novice to, and you see these people that are super experienced, I think that's awesome.

Greg Finch (18:44.91)
because you learn so much and it's always cool to learn and constantly learn new things. Jiu -Jitsu is one of those things that every night I go in, I learn something new. I think out of the ocean, besides the weightlifting, besides everything like that, I think that's one of those sports or communities, as we were talking about, that keeps you in that mindset as well of, okay, I need to overcome a problem here. Here's this problem.

you have a 200 pound guy on top of you, what are you going to do? Right. Yeah. And it's, and that idea of, always remaining a student, always remaining open, like, this experience I've experienced for sure. But recently I had this time where it was like, it wasn't huge. You know, it was like, maybe like outside of certain people in the labs cover, you know, comfort zone. It was.

head and a half high beach breaky. It was, you know, but it was fine. And there was a fairly younger surfer, really good surfer and just know it from the area. And, he was just not, it was like shooting the shit with people and just, you know, doing all these things. And the set came and he took the first wave, didn't really make it kind of backed off. And the rest of the set just blew him to the, to the beach. And I thought he was just going to go in.

And, you know, it was like 14 or 15 and he piled back out and was just like, his eyes were so huge. And I was thinking, I didn't say anything to him, but I just, cause I've had that experience. And I remember thinking that lesson right there, that right there, you are going to carry that through the rest of your life. Like that's an important thing. And it's like being open and never being overconfident and things like that of remaining a student, something like.

You're the probably the sixth or seventh guest I've had on that's brought up jujitsu and for this almost the same reasons. There's such a connection between surfers because as soon as you experience that out of the water, you're like another place that I can get that kind of practice and that feeling. And we just gravitate towards it. Yeah. It's awesome. It's such a, it's a, it's a problem solving game. Yeah. You know, jujitsu is such a problem solving game that you work your mind in a way that you don't.

Greg Finch (21:06.958)
realize it until you start doing it. And then the minute you start getting better at it, and I'm not saying this like I'm good, but it's like, I've noticed that you're like, okay, I remember how to do this. How do I get out of it? Okay, how can I attack from here? How can I do this? And it's so like surfing where it's positioning. A lot of it's positioning, right? You're positioning yourself in the ocean for a better way. You're going to position yourself in jujitsu for

not to get choked out, right? Or to attack. You're positioning yourself into a better situation constantly. So I think that's also how you can relate it to surfing a lot as well. Yeah. Yeah. One of the previous guests, he said, it's my mental chess. And I was like, yeah, I could totally see that. You're thinking ahead. You're having to think about what you're doing, not lose sight of what's happening right now. And you're right. The parallels to being in the ocean. Like you said, like,

starting to surf really young and the comfort with the ocean is again, not overconfidence or arrogance, but just like familiarity. Okay, this, I know this, I'm comfortable with this. And you can see either somebody really brand new to the ocean. Well, here's my experience. Like kind of you were talking about being of service. Like I'll do these retreats with veterans or active duty. And some of them are like, the one I do is they're,

special forces, active duty. So they're highly trained warriors, but they're most of them have don't have much if any ocean experience that's very limited. So this skill set that they have and physically what they're used to relying on kind of really goes out the window. And they have this experience of like, but they all love the challenge of it. And so it's this, this thing where you can see like, they kind of are, you know,

They want to look strong and stuff. And then the minute they touch the water and just a little wave kind of hits them, like you see it shifts in their head and then they start repositioning and they're like, okay, how am I going to overcome this? And you see their skills start to come. But that first revelation of like, I'm not comfortable here at all. And that, that part of it is that's what the ocean can do. I'm talking less from dangerous or.

Greg Finch (23:29.902)
being injured or all those things that are of course possible. Just that introduction to this is a whole new world for you that you have to start to really pay attention to. And it opens up so many other things. I mean, it goes back to that giving people the opportunity to experience that whether it's through surfing or paddling or otherwise. Like I just, there's, we gained so much from it. Yeah, no, it's awesome. I think everybody can benefit from time in the ocean.

I don't think I've ever heard of anybody that I would be like, no, maybe the ocean's not for you. Yeah, exactly. Well, let's get a little bit more specific about this last season. So first of all, congratulations, man. Second year in the row, performer of the year, Mavericks Awards. That's just awesome. It's just incredible. Yeah, thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, it was a crazy year. This last year was...

a huge push for myself in learning Mavericks as well as, you know, just consistently surfing it in different conditions. Two years ago, it was not a great winter at all. I think it broke maybe a handful of times and all the days that did break, it was fairly small. So we got to really, you know, as persistent as we are, we still went every time it broke, those smaller days, but...

This year was a long time of big stormy, ugly waves that really pushed us into, into boundaries that I had never been in. And, you know, you adapt and overcome and you find new ways of surfing that wave and also new ways. And I have a new tow partnership with my friend Luca and we're both the same age and we it's cool. We both get to learn it at the same level.

we've been surfing it in very similar timeframe, both from when we were 14. So we both kind of came up and, and, and grew up and got to see the wave. And then this year we really teamed up, as I said, and, and, and pursued the wave and, and different aspects or different, different ways. But yeah, this year was awesome. And talk about that relationship as a tow partner, whether it's,

Greg Finch (25:56.526)
you know, in the water, what that relationship is like and communication with that. And of course, trust and everything that comes with that. Do you guys train out of the water off season together? Like, what does that like? I would imagine it's, I would imagine it's a very intense trust and relationship that you have to develop. Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, Luke is an awesome guy. So that's kind of what we look forward to, right? Like if you have solid morals and you're.

a good human to everyone and everybody that you love, then that's first come first serve. Besides him being an amazing person, he's also an amazing surfer and he's got clearly great water awareness, ocean awareness. He's been doing it for a long time. We've gained that trust. We've always seen each other out in the lineup.

And we've been friends doing, you know, the, the little school contest here and there, but we never really became this close as you were saying until this last year. Not only did we pretty much live together for four months, but we were always on the same track. We, you know, in bed by eating well, want to be the first ones out there. It's, it's the.

repetition of doing it and having that same mindset that I think brings people closer together. And a toe partnership, that's exactly what it is, right? You guys have that same goal in mind. And when you're doing that consistently,

You start to gravitate towards those people. And so tow partnership, as many have said, we have learned from the elders of doing it, but this one is different because of our ages. We are both the same age. Normally it's a younger and an older generation that kind of tow team up together because they're showing us the ropes. And we did have that. I myself had Ryan Augustine for a couple of years and he had.

Greg Finch (28:12.078)
his Tim West and they were both amazing surfers out of Mavericks and great jet ski drivers. But when it came to us coming in together, it wasn't like we had a new school approach at it, but it was more, you could see the aggression. We were like, okay, we want to do this. We want to expand our knowledge and go out and beyond and learn the hard way as well. You know, there are slip ups, but you grow with.

together with those and and you bring it on the next year and you see what happens. Yeah. So answer for me. So something as technically specific as being on the ski and getting your tow partner into where they need to be. Obviously you can practice it on some days at Mavericks or otherwise where it's a little smaller, but when it starts.

getting bigger and the consequences are larger and probably more crowded because of all those things. Like that's a very precise practice, which I would imagine you're only getting a handful of times. How do you keep those skills sharp without being able to do it at that point? Is there techniques that you practice? Is there, how do you, how do you practice that? So that's a, that's a tough one because like I said, it's ocean awareness and then also being having time on a jet ski.

is huge. So a lot of people kind of think when they see it, and especially surfers at the beginning, they're like, it's easy. I'm a surfer. I can just grab my guy and whip him into a wave. And then you start to realize you're like, Whoa, this is a completely different sport. Like it's totally off the beaten path of surfing a short board and surfing a 30 foot wave with straps. Right.

So a lot of it is knowing your lineups at Mavericks. If you know your lineups, then it makes it easier. A lot of it's repetition, so you kind of combine those, right? Like I was saying, time on a jet ski. You come into it, you know exactly where you want to put your guy, but then sometimes you don't too. Like there was this day, December 28th of this year, or last year now.

Greg Finch (30:39.214)
that we had never seen a swell like that. It was so West, it was pretty much South. And the lineups that I normally had were out the window. Like you didn't know where to go. And you kind of adapt and overcome those by trial and error, right? Like the first couple of waves, you get your guy a little bit on the shoulder, make sure he makes the wave.

And then you can kind of start to push it and you start to push it and you start to push it. And so it's, it's a funny thing because you don't want to really go into it guns blazing, but at the same time we're both at the level that we kind of do. Right. So, but you, you go in with a calculated assessment of how the wave is breaking. You see it from the channel, you know what the swell direction is doing.

And from there you can kind of navigate with the jet ski and position your guy to where he wants to be in the bowl. Knowing also how your surfer surfs. There's different types of surfers. And what I mean by that is Luca is somebody that likes to come deep behind the bowl and come across it. So I know exactly where he kind of wants to do that. And he knows exactly what I want to do as well. So.

When we tow each other into waves, you're knowing what the surfer is doing, you're navigating what the swell direction is, and also you're doing your own calculated risk assessment before you're going into the wave. You can see what a wave looks like out the back just by what direction it's coming in and the wind bump and everything on it. You typically want the second wave of the sets a little smoother, but it all depends. It's such a, you know,

There's so many variables that come into that, like a question like that, that it's, it's cool. Cause you're, you're never going to stop learning on, on that behalf. Never. Yeah. Yeah. That's part of what, I would imagine just drives. It's just the, the top end of risk and size and speed of what is the essence of surfing anywhere. You know, it's just that feeling. I just was talking to a client yesterday.

Greg Finch (33:00.59)
Newer to surfing, has been surfing for a while, was a professional athlete before and other things, and wasn't frustrated per se, but was just like, shouldn't I, because I'm a movement coach. I'm not a surf technique coach. There's people who do that that are experts at that. I can help front end surfers to surf better.

But I really help them to remain surfing for the rest of their life. That's always my focus is to physically and mentally be able to stay connected to the ocean. So when I talk to them, we were talking about that. He's like, shouldn't my surfing be getting better? And I say, yes, but know that this is a lifelong pursuit and also know that like. For us that have been surfing most of our life, we'll still go out. And if, especially if we're distracted.

surfing like we've never surfed before. You know, it's like, that's really not true, because we have so much muscle memory and repetition of things. But if you're distracted, and you're going, you're like, I'm surfing like crap, and you're like, okay, focus or get out of the water. And so it's like that kind of idea. But that's what attracts us. If it was easy. I don't know if we would be so driven by it. It's it's so hard. And it's so hard to maintain.

that level of performance that what you're talking about is just taking that up 10, 30 fold literally. Yeah. And you're like I explained earlier that that adrenaline junkie state of mind where, okay, I remember that one bottom turn for instance, or anything of the such, right? You remember those little glimpses in life and it's worth everything, right?

Even let's say chocolate when you're as a kid, right? You remember having that sweet chocolate and that's what always drives you back towards that thing. And so surfing's identical. I remember that one turn I did, okay, I want to replicate that. And that's what keeps you going, keeps you going. So yeah, like you were saying, some people, it's hard for them because they haven't felt that yet.

Greg Finch (35:12.91)
Right? They don't have that, that sweet taste in their mouth yet or what, whatever you want to call it to have that memory, to continue trying to pursue what they just did the day prior. So I think that's really special about surfing and it all comes down again for us at Mavericks. It's that adrenaline junkie instance of like attaining that exact same feeling. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So.

Let's talk about, well, let's talk about when things go wrong, which of course you were saying calculated risk. This is part of what your training, bringing it into part of your mental, strength to prepare for something. But talk to me about not, not, I don't, I don't want to know like the fear part of it, or are you having to relive something? I just want to know really where, when you, when that is happening in real time,

How quickly can you click back to your training and go focus? Do I have to say remain calm? Do I say to myself, what do I do to, like you said, solve this and get through it to that next breath? What part of the training comes through the most powerfully? I think it depends on the instant, correct? If you're out of the water, you're the guy on the jet ski.

breathe. Just take a breath. You'll be alright. You've done this before. This is just a little knot in the rope. It'll be okay. You can untie this. So I think in that instance, taking a breath is important. Now, underwater, there's a different little feeling where, like you just said, you want to remain calm.

There's a calmness though where you don't want to go limp because you are getting thrashed around. It's a car accident, but you do want to stay compact and just think and not overthink, but you still need to think. You need to go up to the surface. You need to figure out a way to do that, but there's nothing that you can control at this moment until that wave kind of lets you go. So that's how I think of it is like,

Greg Finch (37:40.302)
I have zero control. So whatever is happening is happening right now. And there's no other better way to doing it than relax, right? If you start to panic, for me, I've done it plenty of times, but the minute you start to panic, you start to have these thoughts that are out of the range of what you normally do. So the more calm I stay and I come up,

you know you're gonna come up. Sometimes, you know, that's what you gotta tell yourself, you're gonna come up. And I think calmness is a huge thing. And then coming up, there's always, you know, either a second or a third wave. And knowing to really stay calm when you come up as well and take those breaths, every breath counts. So when I come up, I normally just do one big exhale and then one big inhale.

And when you go down, you're like, okay, same thing. You're still calm. Just stay calm. I think a lot of people, and I tended to do this too when I was younger, is I wouldn't actually panic on the initial wave that I fell on, but I would panic on the second wave. Because you think, okay, I'm calm, now I come up, panic. And then now you're all tense, but if you stay in that state of calm, then you can kind of get.

No control over what's going to happen gives you that gratification that, okay, this is it. Like,

focus that it was interesting. I don't know. I don't know if you're familiar with Brian McKenzie, but he kind of focuses a lot in breath work in this crossover. I'm going to oversimplify what he does, but works with really, really elite athletes. And it's the cross section between like this idea, this fear and breath and how to train for those things and how to prepare for that. And one of the things he said that I hadn't really thought in this capacity before.

Greg Finch (39:53.23)
But this idea of fear, right? We're thinking of like controlling emotions and we're controlling our mental state and those things are all true. But one of the things he also said that was so interesting was when that panic comes in, so does our brain activity really starts to go into overload. Well, your brain is a huge consumer of oxygen. And so.

physiologically to your compounding the situation you're in. So the more focused you remain, the more calm you remain, the more efficient you are with the place that you're at right now with the oxygen and the co2 building up and all these things that go on. And I hadn't really thought about it in that capacity before, but it makes total sense when you break it down, like, all those things are going to then start compounding, because you're going to start sensing, I need breath even more.

It's going to compound the panic even more. And it's just that that's the familiarity that experience brings, right? Like you don't want to put yourself in a situation where you're falling in, in a dangerous situation, but that's going to come from the situations that you're putting yourself in and that repetition. But I want to touch back on what you said about being on the ski that expand on that a little bit more. So I hadn't really thought of this. We're always thinking as selfish as we always are first person, like,

my gosh, I fell on a wave and I'm in the situation, but having your partner be on the ski and over there, that could probably quickly run out of control too. That's kind of what you're referring to. Yeah. So we've had some tricky situations on the jet ski and you know, you lose a ski, you anything, right? You, you, your tow partner for some reason, isn't coming up. Like those are all aspects that.

to a normal human is a reason for panic. So I think that's where you were talking about the calm and the breathing is you just need to relax. If that situation does come and we haven't had, thankfully enough, a situation where it came to this, but you know, when someone gets knocked unconscious, we had a situation similar to that and...

Greg Finch (42:16.046)
You just need to relax and breathe and know that if it gets to a certain level, you have to adapt and grab that person and let go of your jet ski. There's all these scenarios in your head that you need to stick to and you can't have that panic mode on the ski because you are the lifeline. If you are on a ski panicking, that causes horrible d***.

Horrible situations not only for now your tow partner, but now for you as well. So now you just put two people in danger. So I think that's Why the guy on the jet ski is so important to have that ability to remain relaxed and calculated Because he's coming in to get you it shouldn't be vice versa So I think that if that's how I'm gonna answer that question it's a tricky one as well because I

There's so much training that you can really do until it comes to that time to really perform. And when you're doing the training, it's like, yeah, you're in certain areas and they're calm and they're, they're much easier than the situations that we're in. And knowing those little things will help you, but also just being able to come in with, you know, a level headed mindset.

when those situations go horribly wrong, it's going to help you. And do you go as far as like, obviously you can't, you know, have a game plan for all of the scenarios that will come up because they're almost, you know, they're just infinite. But do you go as far as saying like, here's a, here's the top, whatever five or 10 scenarios generally have come. And this is what we'll do if this happens. So Kevin, a general understanding, or is it just through repetition and experience? It's like,

Here's what we do in situations like this. And then you practice as best you can. Yeah, to the extent that kind of like that, right? So we have done some drilling and you do a lot of mainly unconscious victim situations. And it's difficult when you're solo on a ski because if your guy is unconscious, you're mainly trying to get him onto the jet ski, but also not trying to lose your lifeline as well.

Greg Finch (44:42.094)
Because with the ability of having that jet ski is you can come back around and try again multiple times. But if you put yourself into one of those horrible situations and you lose the jet ski, as I mentioned, that's out the window. And now you are swimming, trying to rescue this guy instead of trying to bring him to the beach or, you know, to a boat or anything.

Luckily these days out of Mavericks specifically, we have multiple jet skis in the water, but you know, there are those days where we're the only people out. And if you're the only people out, stuff can go wrong pretty quick. So yeah, as, as, as you were mentioning, I think we'd have done a little bit of practice, but I think it's that just that natural instinct that when.

those situations do occur. We're going to go right to those and we're not going to, you know, I mean, I'm saying this too soon, but we're not going to panic. Well, you, you, you, you again, train and do everything you can to be at the best level you can for the scenarios that you're putting yourself in. That goes back to the calculated risk. If you didn't want to take any risk on you, wouldn't be out there in the first place. You have that. It's part of the equation.

But that's also true of walking out the door. This is why people's worlds get smaller and smaller and smaller. People ask me like, it's so dangerous to surfing and they'll bring up sharks or whatever comes up. And I was like, the most dangerous thing we all do is get in that car. And you don't think twice about it. And we're flying down the road and people are being dangerous with the distraction. I was like, really percentage wise, if you look at the numbers, like, but.

You were, we do take this risk on, but you, you hope to prepare for it where you need to prepare for it. And then as the level size of the wave, the situations you're putting in and go higher, that training has to be more and more and more acute. Yup. I mean, it's just like. It is perfect example. Like you just said, I'm driving when you're in a race car, they take every safety precaution possible. When we're serving Mavericks, we try and take every safety precaution possible as well.

Greg Finch (47:05.71)
So right, like surfing would be like getting in your daily car. Going to Mavericks would be driving a NASCAR and having, you know, some of the most dangerous situations that you can, but you come in with so much safety that, and especially as we have adapted in the sport, we've gotten the CO2 vests and things of the such that have allowed us to make it really a safer environment for.

everybody but you know exactly back in the day and when you're watching NASCAR the percentage of deaths was definitely higher than it is now right absolutely yeah you that's the progression that you make is improve that the risk's still there but you're trying to minimize it while still pursuing this you know greatness and and the pinnacle of whatever that sport is and for us obviously big wave surfing is

It's a very narrow, it's a very narrow amount of people that have the skill, the perseverance, the focus and the determination to do it. Talk a little bit to me about like kind of that safety protocol. Like what does that run like to you? Because this is what's interesting, right? On a very vanilla ice cream level. So clients that I work with, I'll be like, okay, what's your pre -surf routine like? What do you do your readiness and movement prep? What are you doing before you get in the water? And a lot of times is the answer I get.

Well, I go down there, I see it's so it's firing. And so we've got to do a little of this, a little of this, and then I'm running out in the water. Yeah. And I said, OK, well, this is the first thing we're going to focus on. If you need to do this at your house before you get down there and physically see it, then this is what we'll do. But you need to prepare your mind and your body for this really elevated activity, minimizing your risk and leveling up your ability to perform. So what are like your pre -?

it's firing and you know you're going out to tackle these mountains. What's your kind of checklist like both on like your safety checklist, mental checklist, physical? What do you do before that? Because I imagine those days started four in the morning for you. Yeah. First checklist for us is do we have our radios? Do we have our jet skis in set? Do we have, you know, so.

Greg Finch (49:31.278)
The main concern for us is the jet skis. If the jet skis are running, sometimes we'll leave them overnight in the harbor, make it easier, just jump right on and head right out. Luca's house is two minutes from the launch ramp, if that, in Half Moon Bay. So.

We wake up, make sure we have our canisters in our vests, get our wetsuits on, drink our coffee, drink some water. And the minute we hit the launch ramp and those skis are ready to roll, we turn on our radios. We have a watcher up on the beach or up on the cliff, excuse me. And he's there all day normally kind of spotting out and describing everything to us so that we have eyes and ears above.

And that's a huge help because sometimes you'll drive right by your guy. So the waves are so powerful there that you'd never really, you can get an idea of where he's going to come up on a wave, but sometimes he'll just come up right where he fell or sometimes I'll get dragged a football field. So the radios and the jet skis are in the canisters in our vests are the number one things that we look at.

And then making sure that the conditions are doable too. It's a huge thing. I mean, we get over frost like you just said, right? Like you see these giant swells and the wind is kind of pretty bad, but, and Luca and I are both kind of wanting to do it, wanting to do it. And then sometimes you just got to tell yourself like, no, this isn't, you know, this isn't doable. Let's save it for a better day. Save. You want to live another day. You don't want to have a bad situation wreck the next 20 years of your life.

So or even even the next seven days. Like, yeah, exactly. Yeah. You totaled your jet ski like, OK, we need to go get a new jet ski. And that's you know, those aren't cheap. Yeah. And what and what about like, do you have a physical like routine that you do prior to that or all your training kind of up to that has really gotten you prepared for that? I would say a lot of the training has just kind of brought me up to that. There's so many things.

Greg Finch (51:47.182)
It's so different from a normal surf to where you have so many things going on, right? Between getting all your boards down there, getting, you know, we set a buoy, we do so many different little components that you don't have too much time to do your stretching and anything like that. Yeah, you try and stretch out a little bit, but we train so much for it that we're ready for that. So to answer your question, I think, yeah, it's.

It's too hard. It's too hard. And I agree with your patience on this one. So answer this for me. So you're this last season, right? Former of the year, you had multiple sessions and swells, and it was really a strong year. And then you talk about that adrenaline dump after that, and having to occupy your mind. After you kind of

You know, level out as best you can and you're back into a rhythm and a routine. Has this experience at Mavericks and other big waves that that is a very, such a specific experience. Have you found that you've lost any of the excitement at the, at the smaller stage, whether it's smaller waves or, or just the essence of surfing over here? Have you seen that change at all in your dynamic?

Yeah, yeah, you don't, you don't get that same feeling. Obviously it's awesome to jump in the ocean and feel it and be out in nature. But the small wave stuff is really, it's given me a lot of confidence in waves that aren't mavericks and are still powerful. Those now are, I'm not saying they're easy, but I'm saying that they kind of, they give you that little boost. Like you're like, okay.

Like I can do this and when you're a kid, you would think that wave would kill you. But now you grow older, you start to experience different waves. So I think yes, you do gain a little bit of confidence, but you also do lose a little bit of that adrenaline push from everyday surfing. And it's sad to say that, but.

Greg Finch (54:08.014)
I think there's other sports, right? I would say the same, right? If you're a dirt biker and you're doing 60, 70 foot gaps, and then you do a couple little four or five foot gaps, then it's, you're like, yeah, that was really fun, but it doesn't give you that same drive and push as that 60 to 70 foot gap. Yeah. I think some of that too, almost what you touched on with like the paddle racing.

and the nonprofit you have for that. Those are bridges, those are transitions, maybe season to season, different points in your life, because you're young, you have a long runway ahead of you, but things will change at a point, and to be able to mentally transition with other things that maybe don't give you that, but still give you.

just go as far as just saying joy and love. Yeah, just have that connection to the ocean. So you don't lose that to be able to transition from that time because like, you know, you hear pro athletes talk about all the time. It's just like, when they stop, it's like, well, what now? Like, I was at the pinnacle of what I was doing, and they have to find their way that way. So it's just kind of that prepare preparing for that idea, you know,

Nothing you have to worry about right now, but it's just that interesting. You're almost kind of already doing it with your paddle races and that other connection to that. Yeah, that's the difference, right? A lot of these athletes, it's a year -round thing. Ours is very seasonal. So it's difficult to maintain that. But we will adapt and overcome and gain our own things that we like to do. Yeah. Yeah.

So you mentioned earlier, you talked about your dad still doing paddle with you. Talk about your family and talk about how you got introduced to the ocean. And obviously, I imagine they support you tremendously on reaching all these goals that you've already reached and continue to. Yeah, no, they're awesome. I'm a third generation from Santa Cruz. My dad grew up here. And my mom is actually from Italy.

Greg Finch (56:25.71)
So I grew up spending half my time in Italy and bilingual. And it's amazing to be over there. And I loved it. And you got to snowboard and eat amazing food. And so I have another life over in Europe. But it's cool, too, because I can go there and then come back. And then I come back to my life of surfing. And my dad introduced me to the ocean at a very young age. And at first, you know what's funny is I really

didn't love it. Like I liked being in the ocean, but not so so. But what really brought me into it was the Junior Lifeguard program here. Yeah. So they're amazing. They're so amazing. Amazing. And then I think at age 11 or 12, I think it was around there. I was like, wait, I actually really like this. And then your friends start to surf, right? And then you want to do it with them and that kind of builds. And so

Another thing too from that is the Ghost Riders, which is the nonprofit that I run for paddling. We do all the proceeds go to the junior lifeguard program. that's awesome. Yeah. Because my dad and him and Mike Dillery and Josh Peterson and Zach Wormout were the four people that really started the Ghost Riders. And it was because all of them grew up in the JG program here as well.

So, and now myself and my good friend, Connor, that I grew up with, the sons of these people, now I've taken it over and it's the same thing, right? All the proceeds go to the JGs. We help them get paddle boards. We help them get stuff like that. But I think that's so important for so many kids such as myself, right? I didn't love the ocean. And then I grew and learned to love the ocean through just being at the beach.

all day, Monday through Friday, digging in the sand, being in the ocean, going back and forth, splashing in the waves. So, and doing that physical aspect of doing workouts too. So it keeps their, you know, your mind at a good place. And without the JG program, I don't know what, what would have happened. And I think a lot of people could have said the same thing about their experience with it.

Greg Finch (58:49.102)
Yeah, there's something really unique. Well, there's numerous things that's amazing about, junior lifeguard programs. But one thing that I saw, like with my daughter, like, like I played volleyball in college and I've served and you know, it was all these things where like, I just wanted her to love the ocean. I just, if she wanted to surf and to be able to surf with my daughter is amazing, but it was nothing I needed her to do. Same thing with volleyball, all this stuff, but.

So I would expose her to the ocean really early. And I just kept saying these things. I just have this connection to the ocean. And then when she did JG's the first year, I was like, you don't, you can, you can play any sport you want. It doesn't matter what it is, but you have to play sport and you can do it. Pursue all these interests of what it is. That was the only thing I said to her. I was like, she, I don't really want to do it. I'm like, no, I'm going to make you do this. This is one of those things they're going to make you do. And, and she.

She's 16 now. I think she was 12 at the time the first year she came to me like maybe six months ago and she said she thanked me for making her do that my wife she thanked us for doing it because she said from her perspective she had to do so much more than she wanted to or thought she could because of the environment all her friends were around her these

these junior lifeguards were not that much older than her. And so it was like, they're doing it. And like, it pushed her to do so much more than she ever thought she could. And that dynamic doesn't have to be between parents and children. It's like, you go experience this and figure out how much you actually can do. And that same thing, she just loves the ocean. We surf together a little bit. It's not her main thing. She might come back to it, but just that connection to the ocean. They are.

amazing. So that's great. You're you're doing that. You're you're your fathers and and and parents must love that their kids are taking that over. yeah. It was a big as much as they loved it. Also, it's a lot of work. Right. And it's nonprofit. We don't we don't make any money off of it. So they were pretty happy when they were like, All right, cool. Yeah. They're like, it's still happening. Yeah. JG is still benefiting. We get to show up and see it all. Exactly.

Greg Finch (01:01:09.134)
They get the win -win now, but they paid their dues, right? Yeah, totally. And they still all do the paddle races too, which is awesome. So it's like, that is awesome. Yeah. That's one of those things, just like that prone paddling, that feeling of doing that. Like we can do it in the Bay here, which is great. Cause it's just, you know, you don't have to, you just get the, you can get the miles in and like having a paddle board right down there. So nice. You don't have to cart it, you know, those little things. It's like reducing fresh.

friction in your life, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I can just go paddle. Yeah. Hey, thanks so much for joining us on surf strong show, man. It's been great. We could, I could talk to you for hours more about all the stuff you got going on, but congratulations on performer of the year, two years in a row. it's going to be fun to just continue watching you and Luca just grow and pursue more. And you know, thanks for being on the show. No, thank you. I really appreciate it.

Greg Finch (01:02:08.142)
That's a nice backdrop right there actually, you know, like sometimes people will come on and I'll be like, politely like, okay, well maybe we'll just move that box of stuff. You got a nice little outside backdrop there. Great.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Well, thanks for joining us, man. I really appreciate you taking the time to do it.

So let's just kind of jump right into it. So, you know, I actually pushed out that, you were going to be on and I kind of was asking just different places and, you know, friends and other things and just got some questions coming back and we'll kind of sprinkle those in throughout, but being that this is kind of a surf specific show and you know, people always looking to up their own performance and do that. Having somebody like you on that is at such a pinnacle of performance on such.

I mean, saying it's a technical wave, you know, we'll talk about obviously Mavericks and talk about the wards and stuff, but just pushing yourself in those zones. I would love to just start with. We're kind of in our obviously big wave off season here in California and just talk a little bit about what you actually do in the off season. So like what your training's like, but also kind of talk about how you keep your focus.

to train in these off times that I'm sure is very critical to be able to perform in season. How do you keep that focus with what we were talking about before we kind of got on the call, which was life, going grocery shopping and doing all these things that kind of take our attention. Like, how do you keep your focus there?

Greg Finch (01:05:08.078)
Yeah, that's great. So let's break it down a little bit more. You just talked about doing the circuit right before. Tell me exactly what you did. What was your circuit entail?

Greg Finch (01:06:34.862)
And you probably push a little bit more of that hypertrophy or putting on muscle mass and off season, right? Because it probably, as you're going into the season, you back off quite a bit of your resistance training, I would imagine.

Greg Finch (01:07:29.198)
Yeah. And it would be interesting. This kind of goes into, more into the season part, but just what you said there about like your body, of course, is a machine. So, right. It's looking for efficiency. So it's streamlining like, okay, now we're surfing more. So these muscles, you know, our shoulders and, you know, up into like all of our paddle muscles and some of those other things. We're going to build those or maintain what we're going to streamline where we need to do on some of those other things. So.

Do you find that as you do that into some of your season, what I'm leading into is there's probably stretches of time where if you're towing into a lot of waves, do you have to really make sure that you're getting some paddling in or is it interspersed enough that you're maintaining all of those paddle muscles as well?

Greg Finch (01:08:31.95)
because of just that hold and all that static. Yeah.

Greg Finch (01:08:46.958)
Right, right. You're like, I need your turn to be over. So it's my turn again.

Greg Finch (01:09:10.03)
Yeah. Yeah, I guess, I mean, that to think about that, you're not really getting much range of motion. You're just holding and that resistance is just almost like sitting there having to like hold 25, 30 pounds in just a static posture like that. Yeah.

Greg Finch (01:09:53.326)
Yeah. So when you're in season like that and that's happening, and obviously you're, you're, you are pushing all of this adrenaline into these times and, and having to come down. And obviously if there's a swell pushing, you might, you're getting multiple days in a row. How do you, decompress from that mentally after a really big day that you're just so pumped through that whole time, physically tired, you have to recover. How do you mentally decompress?

but still give your body that recovery it needs, whether it's a, you know, a flow of some yoga postures that you do or something like, how do you balance those two things? Knowing that like, you're just going to start ramping back up again, knowing it's coming tomorrow again.

Greg Finch (01:11:56.942)
It's probably some of it too is just the routine of it. Like, okay, I've done these things. It's now bedtime. Like I need to go get into bed. Maybe I'm not going to sleep as soundly as I want, but I have to do that routine to let my mind and body know like this is happening. Cause otherwise you could, you would probably just ride that. It would probably just trail, trail, trail all the way through.

Greg Finch (01:12:53.806)
You could unpack that so much with just the psychology of it, right? Just in that primal part of it of like, you're putting your, your mind and body in positions that it's rightfully wanting to reject as truly dangerous. So the survival, all of this kicks into this and you're writing that. And then when that comes down, yeah, it's spent in just a such, it's like emotionally drained too. I would imagine just.

everything firing and then that like, so let's talk about that. So before we get into the specifics of, because obviously a lot of the questions and what we want to talk about is like just the experience, like you're, you're the elite of the elite, like that experience of going down the face of that way, very few people, even though there's a lot more than there used to be very few people are ever going to experience that. So I want to talk about that, but what, what I'm really interested in too, because it's, it's what I do is.

how you manage all of those things away from that, right? It's like away from the arena. Like we see these waves and it's just amazing. But then it's like, after that comes off and after you've talked about the crash after the season, like have you started to develop better tools of like, okay, I have to occupy myself with, you know, volunteering at this or being involved with this, like to both keep your mind active again, but also just like to.

reposition a little bit about i don't know who you are maybe i don't know how the best way to say it

Greg Finch (01:17:25.742)
And I, I feel that so much, like talking to, you know, non -surfers is some, or it comes up what I do or something in this conversation. And, you know, sometimes I'll get a question, something that lines like, well, why, why surfing? And right. That's such an impossible question to really answer, but it comes down to the essence of what you're saying is. Especially as I've gotten older, it's, it's the thing that keeps me connected to the ocean.

And that feeling of being there, we all want waves, but they really are a bonus. Just like just the last week, my daughter 16. And she was like, dad, do you want to take me and her friend, Alana, do you want to take me and Alana like out, like, just play around in the water? And I was like, I had like three or four meetings scheduled. I'm all, yeah, definitely. Like reschedule everything. Like just to go out there and like putting fins on and body surf, it was all spring winds and cold. And it was like,

a blast. And it's like, never losing that part of it, because that's the part that will sustain you no matter what the specifics are. Like, I want to surf for the rest of my life, but I really just want to stay connected to the ocean for the rest of my life. And having that part of it, and then you add the element of like the paddle, it's like, that's community too, right? It's, it's being part of something in the ocean with other people and maybe introducing people to something that

are never gonna have the skills to be as good as you are as a big wave surfer they can do this and maybe they've never done that before that's just beautiful

Greg Finch (01:21:25.902)
Yeah. And it's, and, and that idea of, always remaining a student, always remaining open, like, th this experience I've experienced for sure. But recently I had this time where it was like, it wasn't huge. You know, it was like, maybe like outside of certain people in the lives cover, you know, comfort zone, it was head and a half high beach breaky. It was, you know, but it was fine. And there was a fairly younger surfer, really good surfer.

And just know it from the area. And, he was just not, it's like shooting the shit with people and just, you know, doing all these things. And the set came and he took the first wave, didn't really make it kind of backed off. And the rest of the set just blew him to the, to the beach. And I thought he was just going to go in and, you know, it was like 14 or 15 and he piled back out and was just like, his eyes were so huge.

And I was thinking, I didn't say anything to them, but I just, cause I've had that experience. And I remember thinking that lesson right there, that right there, you are going to carry that through the rest of your life. Like that's an important thing. And it's like being open and never being overconfident and things like that of remaining a student, something like you're the, probably the sixth or seventh guest I've had on that's brought up jujitsu. And for the.

Almost the same reasons there's such a connection between surfers because as soon as you experience that out of the water, you're like another place that I can get that kind of practice and that feeling. And we just gravitate towards it. It's awesome.

Greg Finch (01:23:54.35)
Yeah. Yeah. One of the previous guests, he, he said, it's my mental chess. And I was like, yup. I could totally see that you're thinking ahead. You're having to think about what you're doing, not lose sight of what's happening right now. And you're right. The parallels to being in the ocean, like you said, like starting to surf really young and the comfort with the ocean is again, not overconfidence or arrogance, but just like familiarity. Okay. This, I know this, I'm comfortable with this and you can see either.

somebody really brand new to the ocean. Well, here's my experience. Like kind of you were talking about being of service. Like I'll do these retreats with veterans or active duty. And some of them are like the one I do is they're special forces, active duty. So they're highly trained warriors, but most of them don't have much, if any, ocean experience. That's very limited.

So this skillset that they have and physically what they're used to relying on kind of really goes out the window and they have this experience of like, but they all love the challenge of it. And so it's this, this thing where you can see like, they kind of are, you know, they want to look strong and stuff. And then the minute they touch the water and just a little wave kind of hits them, like you see it shifts in their head and then they start repositioning and they're like,

Okay. How am I going to overcome this? And you see their skills start to come, but that first revelation of like, I'm not comfortable here at all. And that, that part of it is that's what the ocean can do. I'm talking less from dangerous or being injured or all those things that are of course possible, just that introduction to this is a whole new world for you that you have to start to really pay attention to. And it opens up so many other things. I mean, it's goes back to that.

giving people the opportunity to experience that, whether it's through surfing or paddling or otherwise. We gain so much from it.

Greg Finch (01:26:06.19)
Yeah.

Greg Finch (01:26:11.694)
Yeah, exactly. Well, let's get a little bit more specific about like this last season. So first of all, congratulations, man. Second year in the row, performer of the year, Mavericks Awards. That's just, that's awesome. It's just incredible.

Greg Finch (01:27:58.574)
Talk about that relationship as a tow partner, whether it's, you know, in the water, what that relationship is like and communication with that. And of course, trust and everything that comes with that. Do you guys train out of the water off season together? Like, what does that like? I would imagine it's, I would imagine it's a very intense. Trust and relationship that you have to develop.

Greg Finch (01:30:56.686)
So answer for me. so something as technically specific as being on the ski and getting your tow partner into where they need to be. Obviously you can practice it on some days at Mavericks or otherwise where it's a little smaller, but when it starts getting bigger and the consequences are larger and probably more crowded because of all those things, like that's a very precise.

practice, which I would imagine you're only getting a handful of times. How do you keep those skills sharp without being able to do it at that point? Is there techniques that you practice? Is there, how do you, how do you practice that?

Greg Finch (01:34:49.358)
Yeah. Yeah. That's part of what, I would imagine just drives. It's, it's just the, the top end of risk and size and speed of what is the essence of surfing anywhere. You know, it's just that feeling. I just was talking to a client yesterday, newer to surfing has been surfing for a while. was a professional athlete, you know, before and other things and. Wasn't frustrated per se, but was just like.

shouldn't, shouldn't I, you know, cause I'm a, I'm a movement coach. I'm not a surf technique coach. There's people who do that that are experts at that. I can help front end surfers to surf better, but I really help them to remain surfing for the rest of the life. That's always my focus is to physically and mentally be able to stay connected to the ocean. So when I talk to them, we were talking about this, he's like, shouldn't my surfing be getting better? And I say, yes, but.

know that this is a lifelong pursuit and also know that like for us that have been surfing most of our life we'll still go out and if especially if we're distracted surfing like we've never surfed before you know it's like that's really not true because we have so much muscle memory and repetition of things but if you're distracted and you're going you're like i'm surfing like crap and you're like okay focus or get out of the water

And so it's, it's like that kind of idea, but that's what attracts us. If it was easy, I don't know if we would be so driven by it. It's, it's so hard and it's so hard to maintain that level of performance that what you're talking about is just taking that up 10, 30 fold literally.

Greg Finch (01:37:47.918)
Yeah, absolutely. So let's talk about, well, let's talk about when things go wrong, which of course you were saying calculated risk. This is part of what your training, bringing it into part of your mental, strength to prepare for something. But talk to me about not, not, I don't, I don't want to know like the fear part of it, or you having to relive something. I just want to know really where.

When you, when that is happening in real time, how quickly can you click back to your training and go focus? Do I have to say remain calm? Do I say to myself like, what do I do to, like you said, solve this and get through it to that next breath? What part of the training comes through the most powerfully?

Greg Finch (01:41:31.502)
Focus that it was interesting. I don't know. I don't know if you're familiar with Brian McKenzie, but he kind of focuses a lot in, breath work in this crossover. I'm going to oversimplify what he does, but he works with really, really elite, athletes. And it's the cross section between like this idea, this fear and breath and how to train for those things and how to prepare for that. And one of the things he said that I hadn't really thought in this, capacity before.

But this idea of fear, right? We're thinking of like controlling emotions and we're controlling our mental state and those things are all true. But one of the things he also said that was so interesting was when that panic comes in, so does our, our brain activity really starts to go into overload. Well, your brain is a huge consumer of oxygen. And so.

physiologically to your compounding the situation you're in. So the more focused you remain, the more calm you remain, the more efficient you are with the place that you're at right now with the oxygen and the co2 building up and all these things that go on. And I hadn't really thought about it in that capacity before, but it makes total sense when you break it down, like, all those things are going to then start compounding, because you're going to start sensing, I need breath even more.

You're it's going to compound the panic even more. And it's just that that's the familiarity that experience brings, right? Like you don't want to put yourself in a situation where you're falling in, in a dangerous situation, but that's going to come from the situations that you're putting yourself in and that repetition. But I want to touch back on what you said about being on the ski that expand on that a little bit more. So I hadn't really thought of this. We're always thinking as selfish as we always are first person, like.

my gosh, I fell on a wave and I'm in the situation, but having your partner be on the ski and over there, that could probably quickly run out of control too. That's kind of what you're referring to.

Greg Finch (01:45:56.046)
And do you go as far as like, obviously you can't, you know, have a game plan for all of the scenarios that will come up because they're almost, you know, they're just infinite. But do you go as far as saying like, here's a, here's the top, whatever five or 10 scenarios generally have come. And this is what we'll do if this happens. So Kevin, a general understanding, or is it just through repetition and experience? It's like, here's, here's what we do in situations like this. And then you practice as best you can.

Greg Finch (01:48:00.398)
Well, you, you, you, you again, train and do everything you can to be at the best level you can for the scenarios that you're putting yourself in. That goes back to the calculated risk. If you didn't want to take any risk on you, wouldn't be out there in the first place. You have to, it's part of the equation, but that's also true of walking out the door. This is why people's worlds get smaller and smaller and smaller. People ask me like, you know, it's so dangerous to surfing and they'll bring up sharks or whatever it comes up. And I was like,

The most dangerous thing we all do is get in that car and we don't think twice about it. And we're flying down the road and people are being dangerous with the distraction. I was like, really percentage wise, if you look at the numbers, like, but you're worth, we do take this risk on, but you, you hope to prepare for it where you need to prepare for it. And then as the level size of the wave, the situations you're putting in and go higher, that training has to be more and more and more acute.

Greg Finch (01:49:22.222)
Yeah.

Greg Finch (01:49:56.046)
Absolutely. Yeah. You, that's the progression that you make is improve that the risks still there, but you're trying to minimize it while still pursuing this greatness and the pinnacle of whatever that sport is. And for us, obviously big wave surfing is it's a very narrow, it's a very narrow amount of people that have the skill, the perseverance, the focus, and the determination to do it. Talk a little bit to me about like kind of that safety protocol, like.

What does that run like to you? Because this is what's interesting, right? On a very vanilla ice cream level. So clients that I work with, I'll be like, okay, what's your pre -surf routine like? What do you do your readiness and movement prep? What are you doing before you get in the water? And a lot of times is the answer I get like, well, I go down there, I see it's so it's firing. And so it's got to do a little of this, a little of this, and then I'm running out in the water. And I said, okay, well, this is the first thing we're going to focus on, right? If you need to do this at your house before you get down there and physically see it.

then this is what we'll do, but you need to prepare your mind and your body for this really elevated activity, minimizing your risk and leveling up your ability to perform. So what are like your pre, it's firing and you know you're going out to tackle these mountains. What's your kind of checklist like both on like your safety checklist, mental checklist.

physical what do you do before that because i'm not in those days started four in the morning for you

Greg Finch (01:53:26.03)
Or even the next seven days. Like, I can't hit any of these cells coming in.

Greg Finch (01:53:41.614)
And what, and what about like, do you have a physical like routine that you do prior to that or all your training kind of up to that has really gotten you prepared for that.

Greg Finch (01:54:29.146)
So answer this for me. So you're. You've seen this last season, right? Performer of the year. You had, you know, multiple, sessions and swells and it was really a strong year. And then you talk about that adrenaline kind of dump after that, you know, and having to occupy your mind. After you kind of, you know, level out as best you can and you're back into a rhythm and a routine has.

This experience at Mavericks and other big waves that that is a very such a specific experience Have you found that you've lost any of the excitement and at this at the smaller stage? Whether it's smaller waves or or just the the essence of surfing over here Have you seen that change at all in your dynamic?

Greg Finch (01:56:38.222)
I think some of that too, almost what you touched on with like the paddle racing and the nonprofit you have for that. Those are bridges, those are transitions, maybe season to season, different points in your life, because you're young, you have a long runway ahead of you, but things will change at a point and...

to be able to mentally transition with other things that maybe don't give you that, but still give you, go as far as just saying joy and love to just have that connection to the ocean. So you don't lose that to be able to transition from that time, because like, you know, you hear pro athletes talk about all the time. It's just like, when they stop, it's like, well, what now? Like I was at the pinnacle of what I was doing.

And they have to find their way that way. So it's just kind of that prepare, preparing for that idea, you know, nothing you have to worry about right now, but it's just that interesting. You're almost kind of already doing it with your paddle races and that other connection to that.

Greg Finch (01:58:05.55)
Yeah. Yeah. So, so, so you mentioned earlier, you talked about, you know, your dad still doing paddle with you to talk to talk about your family and talk about how you got introduced to the ocean. And, you know, obviously I imagine they support you tremendously on, on, on reaching all these goals that you've already reached and continue to.

Greg Finch (01:59:12.942)
Yeah, and they're amazing. They're so amazing.

Greg Finch (01:59:23.662)
Yeah.

Greg Finch (01:59:40.142)
That's awesome.

Greg Finch (02:00:57.23)
there's something really unique. Well, there's numerous things that's amazing about, junior lifeguard programs. But one thing that I saw, like with my daughter, like, like I played volleyball in college and I've served and you know, it was all these things where like, I just wanted her to love the ocean. I just, if she wanted to surf and to be able to surf with my daughter is amazing, but it was nothing I needed her to do. Same thing with volleyball, all this stuff, but.

So I would expose her to the ocean really early. And I just kept saying these things. I just have this connection to the ocean. And then when she did JG's the first year, I was like, you don't, you can, you can play any sport you want. It doesn't matter what it is, but you have to play sport and you can do it. Pursue all these interests of what it is. That was the only thing I said to her. I was like, she, I don't really want to do it. I'm like, no, I'm going to make you do this. This is one of those things they're going to make you do. And, and she.

She's 16 now. I think she was 12 at the time the first year she came to me like maybe six months ago and she said she thanked me for making her do that my wife too. She thanked us for doing it because she said from her perspective she had to do so much more than she wanted to or thought she could because of the environment. All her friends were around her. These these junior lifeguards were not that much older than her.

And so it was like, they're doing it. And like, it pushed her to do so much more than she ever thought she could. And that dynamic doesn't have to be between parents and children. It's like, you go experience this and figure out how much you actually can do. And that same thing that she just loves, loves the ocean. We surf together a little bit. It's not her main thing. She might come back to it, but just that connection to the ocean. They are amazing. So that's great. You're, you're doing that. You're, you're a.

Your fathers and parents must love that their kids are taking that over.

Greg Finch (02:03:02.638)
Yeah. Yeah.

Greg Finch (02:03:10.318)
They're like, it's still happening. JG's is still benefiting. We get to show up and see it all. And yeah, yeah, totally.

Greg Finch (02:03:25.454)
That's one of those things, just like that prone paddling, that feeling of doing that, like we can do it in the Bay here, which is great. Cause it's just, you know, you don't have to, you just get the, you can get the miles in and like having a paddle board right down there. So nice. You don't have to cart it, you know, those little things it's like reducing fresh friction in your life. Right. Like, like, I could just go back. Yeah.

Hey, thanks so much for joining us on surf strong show, man. It's been great. We could, I could talk to you for hours more about all the stuff you got going on, but congratulations on performer of the year, two years in a row. it's going to be fun to just continue watching you and Luca just grow and pursue more. And you know, thanks for being on the show.


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