JOHN GREATHOUSE: As noted in “You’re Never To Old To Learn To Surf,” I came to surfing late in life. In the course of becoming a (barely) proficient surfer, I realized that surfing and venture-capital investing share some surprising corollaries—corollaries that I find useful as both a venture capitalist and a surfer.

Biggest set – No matter how flat the water may currently be, there is always another wave brewing further off the coast. The largest sets of wave typically appear after the longest lulls in activity. Patience rewards both surfers and investors.

Last wave – Novice surfers chase the previous wave, rather than anticipating where the next waves will break. Seasoned surfers develop an eye for swells which subtly build in the distance, just as experienced investors anticipate future trends, instead of following current ones.

Location matters – Some surf breaks are more consistent and offer more ridable waves than others. Unfortunately, investors and surfers can be lemmings, which results in good breaks getting oversurfed and market sectors attracting too much capital. Like surfers, investors should similarly be willing to invest off the beaten path.

All in – Once it is your turn in the lineup, make the most of your ride. If you bail on a ridable wave, you may have to wait an extended period for another opportunity and it is unlikely your fellow surfers will forgive the fact that you let a good wave pass by. Likewise, investors who quickly abandon struggling companies seldom prosper because the entrepreneurial community knows that they cannot be counted upon when the going gets tough.

Hard – Surfing is harder than it looks. Like surfing, investing done well looks easy in hindsight.

Luck – Beginning surfers point their boards toward the shore and randomly paddle when a set appears. This strategy occasionally works, when the timing and momentum of a wave allows the neophyte to get a ride. Although this is a legitimate way to learn basic surfing skills, catching a wave in this manner should not be confused with knowing how to surf. This is equally true in investing. Achieving sporadic success via a “spray and pray” asset-allocation strategy does not equate to mastering the art of investing.

Practice – Surfing is an experiential, not an academic, exercise. Time in the water matters. Trying, failing and trying again is the only way to improve. Investing is a similarly hands-on affair. Similarly, self-aware investors revel in their mistakes, knowing that each setback contributes to their ultimate success.

Harsh self-awareness – Understanding why you missed a wave is crucial. It is impossible to avoid future mistakes if you don’t understand why you failed or if you constantly blame exogenous forces (this board sucks, these waves suck, etc.). Correspondingly, in both surfing and investing, learning from your mistakes requires intellectual honesty and removing your ego from the outcomes.

Aggressive yet friendly – Mature, self-assured surfers exhibit a congenial demeanor with their fellow surfers, yet they also assert their position in the lineup and do not allow others to take their waves. In the same vein, investors should also work collaboratively with their peers, but not shy away from potential conflicts.

Once a snake – When a surfer takes off in front of another surfer and steals a wave, it is called getting “snaked.” In surfing and investing, if someone snakes you once, they will do it again.

Proprietary surf–Surfing is intrinsically competitive, as surfers often outnumber the ridable waves. This reality has fueled the creation of surf havens, like Hollister Ranch, which offer owners year-round, nearly flawless surf, while keeping nonowners out. Investing is similarly competitive, which is why savvy investors create trusting relationships with entrepreneurs to ensure a constant flow of proprietary deals.

John Greathouse (@johngreathouse) is a partner at Rincon Venture Partners, a venture-capital firm investing in early stage Web-based businesses. Prior to joining Rincon, he was a serial entrepreneur. Mr. Greathouse also is a tenured member of the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Technology Management adjunct faculty, where he teaches courses on new venture creation and entrepreneurial sales.