Saturday, July 16, 2005

Winter in July

Saturday morning, Shorty's. It was one of those days where long rides were few and far between. The lips were moving so damn fast and closing down so dang quick that the majority of rides consisted of popping up, pumping hard, and looking down the line to see how many seconds of glide bliss you had before the walls came tumbling down. Sure, the easy way out would be to slide into the turquoise trench, push and release, crouch like a cat, then kick out the back, unscathed. But that wasn't me today. Today I was a glutton for punishment.

I guess my inspiration for this water masochism was a ride that Gee and I witnessed from the shore as we were suiting up. A guy popped up and slipped right under the lip, effortlessly, gracefully entering the inverse green universe like a ballbearing in a 7-Up bottle and shot out just as smoothly, pulling a rudimentary cutback at the end. It was his simple cutback that got me thinking that maybe you don't have to be all that skilled to get shacked. Maybe it would happen naturally if you just happened to make a right-place-right-time drop and tuck.

The waves weren't big - probably shoulder high - and the paddle out wasn't too long. But the thing Gee and I noticed immediately was the water temp. It was cold enough to give you lockjaw on your first duckdive. I caught a couple rights to start things off. I had just been given some valuable advice about how to surf backside better, and I was tripping on how such a small thing like "grabbing your rail" could make such a world of difference. It was then that the crowds started arriving...

"No problem," I said. A few Bics and a sponge or two wouldn't ruin my chances of finally getting my first tube - or would it? I found myself in perfect position on a head-high peak and stroked into it, going left again and feeling the familiar comfort of facing the wave. Just as I made the drop and let the board find it's way from the trough to a sweet spot under me, I looked at that beautiful sight that is a hill of water sliding backward over itself only to spot a pimple on its flawless face. A bodyboarder was kicking down the shoulder, into my line.

"Hold it!" I yelled, incredulously, having suffered near frostbite for the last half-hour waiting for this moment. Alas, it was too late. She didn't even look right, but skidded into my flight path, causing me to turn straight and lose the wave. Adding insult to injury, she didn't even ride down the line but went straight ahead in the whitewater. And she was mauled by the heavy froth a moment later. Sputtering after the wipeout, she said "Sorry!"

Ah well. I paddled away from the crowd and found a longboarder parked on a decent peak to the north. Sidling near him, I caught a smallish wave and zipped down the line, turning off the top, cutting back toward the foam, and turning back onto the smooth face again. I finished the ride by trying to punch through the wave. It felt pretty good. When I paddled back out, the longboarder nodded at me. "Nice left you got there," he said. "Not many long waves out here today!" I thanked him for the nod.

After that, the beatings began. The first one was on a shoulder-high left that I could see closing out soon after I stood up. I thought "Why not?" and tried to squat and hug the wave's face without actually touching it, hoping for a moment of clarity before the crush.

Boom! There was an instant where I could feel the vacuum around me, but no sooner was I aware of it than I was pitched backwards, head first. It wasn't the initial knockdown that hurt, but when my body turned over again and looped through the turbulent cylinder, I knew I would regret my bravado. I was kicking out of instinct, probably trying to paddle through the wave or down to the desperate safety of the deep, but I was nowhere near either of those goals. I could feel my flailing feet in the air as I headed over the falls again. I cradled my dome in my arms, knowing the sandy water was only waist deep on the inside. I popped up a few seconds later, spewing water, checked my that my board was still in one piece, and stroked like hell before the next wave could crush me.

On my next ride I took too high of a line as the wave closed out and I landed on the side of my board. It knocked the wind out of me.

So here I sit at 1am, anesthetized by wine, but not so numb that I don't feel a sore spot on my lower back as I type this. And I smile as I imagine what it will be like on a weekday with a little more swell and a little less people.

Music: Broken Social Scene - "Stars and Sons"

To our man in Amsterdam: This entry goes out to you. Can't wait to have you as a central character in these adventures soon!



Gee-whiz said...

Chum -

I can't tell which swells look better: the watery ones with all the mammals or the mammory ones with all the water. The photos make it look like a much better day than I remember it being - maybe the frostbite paralyzed my brain. Great blog my chum. I applaud your artistic effort, whether it be surfing the waves or surfing the internet.


Chum said...

Word to the bird turd. I thought it was pretty good Saturday, but not as good as the pics. Yeah, all the swells look better in the photos... heh.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rick,

Much of this is foreign language to me, yet I still enjoy your blog. Good luck with all that you love.


Connie said...

May gave me the link to your blog. Hope you don't mind! Felt like I was reading a good novel. You have quite a way with words. Makes surfing sound like something I would try (without the big belly, of course!) Miss you guys!

Chum said...

Thanks Connie,

I have been reading yours and Candi's too. I didn't think mine would be too interesting to the family, so I didn't raise the flag. I'm really glad you like it though and I hope we can catch up really soon!

Candi said...

Yeay! You have a blog! I need to pour mysel a good red wine and sit down with your's a good read. You have such a descriptive way of writing that really pulls the reader matter the subject. I am really loving that. Surfers are hot. :)

Anonymous said...

I think his writing sucks. Stupid kook.

Chum said...

Thanks for the feedback, Anon.

Candi, great to hear from you! Coming from the blog master herself, I'm flattered - now where's that vino? Surfers are pretty hot - not the motley crew that I hang with - but I have seen some decent ones in those magazines. Hope to talk to you guys soon...

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