Monday, January 23, 2006

Walking the Plank

That's what it felt like every time I tried to drop in on a wave yesterday. We should have stayed at The Cove, which was overhead and somewhat congested in terms of other surfers, but we were fairly certain that Short Sands would also have good waves, so we drove down to Oswald West State Park.

The only person who was kicking and screaming about leaving fairly perfect conditions was Slim, who had just spent the last several months surfing in New Zealand and was tuned up for the Cove's steep faces and the surly faces of Seaside "locals." He also just so happened to be out of town when there was a great white shark attack at that break.

After we made the walk down the trail to Shorties and checked the surf, it started to look like we should have listened to good old Slimmers. Ten minutes after I made the paddle-out, it became painfully obvious that we made the wrong choice.

The waves were about the same size as the Cove's, around 6 feet, but they were much less organized. They would crest and crumble way outside, then reform very quickly, while the swell still had most of its power. When they would hit the first sandbar, they would flip over and explode, most of the time closing out.

On my first wave I tried to go right but didn't pop up fast enough and found myself crouching on the deck of my board, looking down a dropoff of about 5 feet. What to do? Walk the plank. I couldn't pull backward, since I was already this deeply committed to the wave, so I dove down the face into the trough, trying to get as far from my board as possible.

Anybody who surfs knows the feeling of "going over the falls": You hit the water and penetrate the surface, tumbling with the surge of the wave, but that's not the bad part. Just when your mind says, "That wasn't so horrible," you feel your body rising up, an insignificant part of the back of this massive cylindrical roll of tons of water. You might as well be a piece of debris. Then, you go weightless for a split second as you head back down again, this time at the epicenter of the wave's power. BOOM. It's like being hit by a liquid grenade. You don't know which way is up, you don't know how long you will be down there. Even through your clenched eyelids you can tell that it is pitch dark. And it always takes longer to get back to the surface for air than you think.

Anyway, that happened to me like five times yesterday. I didn't get a single ride. It feels like I haven't reported on a good session in ages. My stoke meter is dipping dangerously low. And these winter blog entries are scaring my mom to death.

All I need is one good session to make things right again... c'mon springtime!

Split Endz - "Shark Attack"


Patch said...

No way to look graceful pitching over the lip of the wave. Hey, at least it wasn't a rail sandwich, going over the falls and having the surfboard find its way between the legs.

You get the musical two 'fer. Time to think about Cabo!

Music — Del Shannon — Rag Doll
Music — Surf Cinema— Ricko Suave

diane said...

You are so right. You are scaring mom to death.

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