How to Surf for Six Hours w/ Cory Lopez

Corey Lopez is fit and ready to grind out a marathon session when the waves beckon. Photo: Fernandez

If given the opportunity, we'd all jump at the chance to surf perfect waves for hours on end. The only trouble is, when the elements finally do converge, our bodies begin to falter on us after a few short hours. So how do you pull off a marathon session and survive to surf another day? We consulted Cory Lopez, a man notorious for surfing eight-hour-plus sessions, to gain some insight. "I regularly surf for three to four hours, and even up to five or six when it's really good," says Cory. "I once surfed for 10 hours in Panama with no more than a few 10-minute breaks. My session only ended when I broke my board."

Fill Up the Night Before
"If I know it's going to be completely smoking and I'm going to be surfing all day, I'll have a good dinner and pound a lot of water the night before. In the morning, I'll have a big breakfast--maybe eggs, toast, fruit, and a smoothie. I honestly like to paddle out completely stuffed, even to the point where the first hour I'm kinda hurting. You know when you kinda paddle a little slow just because you're so full? That's what I like to do. Just be careful you don't over-paddle in the beginning and give yourself heartburn."

Paddle Smarter, Not Harder
"The key to surfing for six hours is to be smart about how you use your strength. First, don't paddle hard just to paddle hard. You don't have to beat the guy next to you out to the lineup. Save your energy so you can use it when you need to. After three or four hours, you're gonna start getting tired. This is when you really need to slow it down and conserve what energy you have left. Keep your paddling smooth and calm, and stay mellow. Even just hooting for your buddy at the end of a long session can start to really take it out of you. But if you do it right and conserve your paddling throughout your session, you really can surf all day."

Stay Hydrated
"Drinking a lot of water the day and night before a big session is really important. If you're dehydrated going into a long session, you're not gonna last. If you're surfing a spot near the beach and are doing walk-arounds, just grabbing a quick sip here and there can do wonders for your session."

Know Your Limits
"Eventually, your body will quit on you. My body quits on me all the time. I'll start to cramp up. Lots of times my arms will just give out when I duck-dive. And sometimes, the backs off my legs will just go out in small waves. And no lay backs at the end of the session. That's a guaranteed leg-killer. Just know when to call it quits."

Prep for Tomorrow
"Sometimes after an all-day session I'll feel like I'm dying I'm so tired. Just the thought of doing it all over again tomorrow feels like it will kill you. But, you've got to stay committed. Good waves only come so often and you have to get back out there. The best thing you can do the day after a long session is to rehydrate. Water, Gatorade, a big feed, and plenty of sleep should be at the top of your priorities if you want to do it all over again the next day. That and committing to a game plan will keep you in the water."