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jettygirl school of sick tricks - junk surf motivation by lexi vonderlieth

Lexi VonderLieth talks about junk surf motivation in the jettygirl school of sick tricks.

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JettyGirl School of Sick Tricks: "Junk Surf Motivation" by Lexi VonderLieth
- Photos by Chris Grant/

lexi vonderliethLexi VonderLieth and I have been trying to meet up for photos over the past couple of months. Our schedules finally gelled and we agreed to meet somewhere between Los Angeles and San Diego, ending up on the shores of Newport Beach. As luck would have it, we were greeted with cloudy skies and less-than-ideal surf. It's always interesting to me to see how surfers respond when faced with non-photogenic conditions. Lexi falls into my favorite camp, the type of surfer who wants to hit the waves no matter what it looks like. Special thanks to Lexi for sharing a few of her junk surf tips in this new segment of JettyGirl's School of Sick Tricks. Enjoy! --Chris Grant

High expectations of good surf in California begins when you wake up at the crack of dawn, stop by your favorite coffee stand and begin your trek to check the waves. The excitement builds as you imagine barrels at your local beach break, groomed with a perfect morning wind. You have the anxious feeling creeping through your body because you want to get to the beach before all your friends. You think about all the peaky barreling waves breaking without you.

You round the corner to your beach, full of ANXIOUS EXCITEMENT. Then, your heart sinks and your energy drains out of you when you see 1-3 foot surf... that combined with a dead low tide and onshore morning sickness from the winds last night. GREAT!

So what do you do? You're at the beach, it sucks, you're all alone and your jacked up on coffee. You can't just go back to sleep now, so you sit and watch and hope magic waves appear, but after 30 minutes of checking the waves, you have a decision to make.

Go out and surf? Or go home?

I was always told that if I could learn to surf well in junky, small surf, then I would be able to surf well in anything. I do believe that.

Now, how do you get motivated to have fun in onshore, low tide, junky surf?

Concentrate on one move. A lot of times when there's junky surf I will try to work on one move, like trying reverses or airs. If there’s onshore wind, airs can sometimes be easier depending on the wind direction. If there are quick corners, reverses will be the move to try. It seems whenever it's good, I'll just do a lot of carving turns or snaps, but when its junky, trying moves I wouldn't usually land doesn't seem as much of a waste.

It can't get any worse. There are a lot of days where the waves look so fun and so good, you put your wetsuit on, throw on sunscreen, wax your board and run down to the water. Somehow, it's timed perfectly that right when you hit the water, the wind switches and it turns to junk. Well, if it's already junky, you have nothing to lose.

It's a great workout. I hate going to the gym, so any chance I can surf I will because it is a great workout and beats being in a gym. You work out so many muscles in your body when you surf and you burn a lot of calories.

Practice. If you ever want to get better at surfing, surf in junk. It only helps you. Plus, if you ever want to compete, contests are held in junky surf a majority of the time.

Go leashless. I feel naked without my leash, it's weird. However, I love surfing without it because I try that much harder to pull turns or moves. This is because I don't want to swim in. We rely on our leashes a lot more than you think and it's fun to challenge yourself.

Go Finless. This was new to me. I saw a feature on Surfline where a bunch of guys went finless on a small day in Hawaii. So one day I was with some friends and went to try it. I honestly felt like a little kid because I had so much fun trying to do 360's. It's like learning to surf all over again.


I honestly felt like a little kid, because I had so much fun trying to do 360’s. It’s like learning to surf all over again.

I also feel when I surf every chance I get, that I keep a rhythm with the ocean. I start to surf more consistent. Paddling out when the surf is junky keeps me connected and my surfing has a steady beat. Plus, the rest of my day is that much better because I got to surf.

Lexi VonderLieth is sponsored by O'Quinn Clothing, Channel Islands Surfboards, Smith Optics, Freestyle, Santa Monica Surf Shop, Creatures, and Red Bull



Additional Resources:


O'Quinn Clothing

Channel Islands Surfboards

Smith Optics


Santa Monica Surf Shop


Red Bull




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Caption Index - Photos by Chris Grant /

1. For a split second we had a glimmer of sunshine and Lexi VonderLieth lit into it on her first wave.
2. Releasing the fins with a layback snap off the closeout, LA girl Lexi VonderLieth shines in the heart of OC.
3. Lexi digs her K2.1 fins. I don't own the glass ones but after watching Lexi on hers, I'll be standing in line for mine soon.
4. Bumpy conditions require quick direction changes, Lexi hooks it back into the pocket and stokes out her sponsors at the same time.
5. Even in onshore conditions, there are sections that momentarily smooth out. Lexi VonderLieth sneaks in an unexpected roundhouse.
6. With her eyes set on a section down the line, Lexi VonderLieth whips a turn and releases a bit of fin in the process.
7. The onshore wind was blowing and the clouds were covering the sun. Still, a few fun Newport rights snuck through the lineup.
8. Aim for the top, hook it, throw some spray and drop back in for more down the line. Lexi VonderLieth has the system wired.
9. One last look at the mixed-up onshore peaks. Not perfect, but fun nonetheless. Lexi knows that even junk surf holds a few gems.


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