Thursday, June 23, 2005

Emotion in the Ocean

Wednesday, June 22 - Surprise evening sesh at Short Sands!

The experience of surfing in Oregon is one of tranquility and harmony with nature. Whereas our surfing brethren in Southern California pride themselves on how "aggro" they can get in and out of the water, "ripping lips" and "boosting sick airs," the Pacific Northwest surfer is more of a soulful creature. Even walking to the beach lends itself to the meditational, spiritual aspect of our sport.


That's why it always boggles my mind when I run into teenage surfers up here who seem to think that they need to profile like they are surfing in the Op Pro with only seconds left in a heat. This is how I felt for the first hour of when we got to Shorty's Wednesday night. I entered the ocean in a peaceful state, making my way out to a peak where nobody was that might offer a chance for my first trip into a small barrel. It was 6:00 and there was only a handful of people in the water, but before I knew it two kids were flanking me on either side, one giving me a stink eye that contrasted with his rosy red cheeks. Suddenly, only about 3 yards away, he took off on the next set wave that came through. He was a decent surfer, but not much better than me. As I waited for the next wave, he paddled back out quickly (low tide made it easy), parking himself directly to my left, closer to the peak where I was waiting. A few minutes later, another set came through and he paddled into the first wave. I caught the second, which closed out. This pattern continued, with him placing himself inside of me after every wave until I almost said something, but decided against it, riding the next left that he wasn't on and moving to the peak at the middle of the beach (pictured below). I caught a few decent rides there and even got kudos from an older surfer who was just paddling out. We exchanged set waves for a while, cautious not to drop in on each other. After about 15 minutes, who shows up? Mr. Cheeky again, but this time he's with 4 other kids, all of whom seemed to have missed the part of their surf lesson about etiquette. It's a big ocean, boys, with plenty of waves to go around! I didn't even wait around this time, but paddled even farther north, back to the peak where I surfed on Saturday. This turned out to be the best decision I could make.


My first wave was shoulder high and much more powerful than the ones I had been jockeying for all evening. Two paddles and I was in. The face was green glass as I slipped right down into the pocket. This time I consciously tried to get low, bending my knees more and leaning my shoulders toward the wave's face. I dragged my left hand and could actually feel the lip spraying above my head. A second later the steepness of the surface propelled me forward and I shot out to the shoulder, where I leaned back, applied pressure to my back foot, and turned right (spraying a little off the left rail) - back down the wave, which had caught back up with me during the turn and was steep again. Then I repeated the process until I made it to the inside section, which was steeper. I pumped up and down the smaller, bowlier reform until it finally closed out and I did a little turn off the foam. I only realized how far I had ridden afterward, when I started paddling back to my line-up spot where I took off. It must have been 100 yards away. I let out a coyote howl as I ducked under a wave.

Four things of note this session:

1. Stayed low and tight to the wave's face.
2. Kicked out of the wave properly after riding, like a top turn off the back where you don't re-enter the wave. (landed on my board a little hard, though).
3. Continued keeping my eyes open under water during duckdives. Much more tranquil when you can see!
4. I started feeling like a crusty old man when those "groms" invaded my space. Bad.

So the moral of my story is that although I faced some slight challenges in the first two places where I tried to surf, it was only because of those challenges that I found my perfect little wedge. Harmony was achieved again.

Good night and Namaste!

Music: Architecture in Helsinki - "Tiny Paintings"

No comments: