Why do I love surfing? The reasons are many, but here is one specific reason: sometimes everything comes together to make for a perfect ride. Being in the right spot, the waves are just so, I’ve got the perfect board for the conditions, Jupiter aligns with Mars… Today I got one of those rides. (Though, I’ll be the first to admit this was a product of luck and not skill. I’ll also be the first to admit that this probably looked totally different to an outside observer. But here’s what I experienced…)
The waves were great today. They were good size, shoulder to head-high, sometimes more. Some were closing out, but some would roll down the line all the way to the beach. The take-offs could be steep, but ever since I started surfing the Harbour Electric, the steep take-offs have become more and more tempting. And today was a most tempting day, as if the devil himself were taunting me with these seductive waves.
One such sexy wave started rolling in from the outside. Everyone else saw it too, and I wrote it off thinking everyone and their mother was going to gun for it. Sure enough, the whole line-up started paddling out, so I decided to sit still and wait for the next one. The wave built higher and higher and started giving signs of being a close-out. People started to back off. A few dudes were still showing intent, but then it was clear this was not a wave to be trifled with and the rest backed off.
Suddenly the wave was empty and right in my wheel house. I have no idea why I suddenly thought that I could catch it, and catch it late for that matter, but we’ve all made those last-minute, rash decisions out there. I spun myself around and paddled like the dickens. Much to my chagrin, I caught the damn thing.
“Uh oh,” I though. I really hadn’t expected this to work. But I’d committed to the wave, so I was going to give it everything. (Bodhi Rule #1: If you want the ultimate thrill, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price.) I dug in the rail, leaned in and stuck my hand out to drag through the face (which was weird, I never do that). When I hit the bottom turn, I looked up at the face and it looked 2 stories high if it was a foot. (I’m sure it was head high at best, but it seemed to tower over me at that moment.)
I’d survived the drop-in; from then on it was a constant battle between me and the wave. It was trying to take me out and I was trying to ride it all the way to the beach. The wave would crash a bit and I’d eek out a bit more speed to get ahead of the curl again. Back and forth our tête à tête went on. Finally it was clear wave was done dancing with me and decided to close out all together. But I’d built up all this speed and thought it a shame to go to waste. So, at the last moment, I launched myself out of the wave. I was floating. I was giddy.
That ride was so absolutely awesome. And I immediately knew how long that wave is going to stay with me as soon as I was in the air. So I let out a great hoot to let the world know too. (And then I landed on my head in the water causing my triumphant hoot to turn in to a triumphant gurgle.)
Waves like that, the ones that stay with you, that’s one of the many reasons why I love surfing.