A good surfer has to listen to what the ocean is telling them. The waves are out there if you know where to look. The sea can act as a guide but will only provide the pieces — the weather conditions, the wind, the direction the swell is coming from. It is up to the surfer to put the puzzle together.

“There are so many things that go into succeeding and becoming a medalist — becoming a gold medalist — in surfing,” Olympic surfer Kanoa Igarashi tells The Japan Times. “You’re going to have to basically read the ocean, something that’s nearly impossible.

“At the end of the day, I feel like surfers are also weathermen, because we’re out there and we’re putting in all the variables in our heads — this is the wind, this is the swell direction, this is my strategy based off that. You’re trying to predict when the waves are going to come and which kind of waves you’re looking for.”