Monday, May 08, 2006

The Wipeout School of Surfing

Since Mother Nature has offered up flat to small waves for a while, I've been out of practice and had a niggling fear that I wouldn't be able to surf once a swell came through. Same worries that others have been having about being out of shape. My worry went a little further. I used to take steep drops on shoulder-high close-out waves FOR FUN. But in anticipation of this weekend's swell, I found myself afraid that I'd lost my nerve.

("That's because you have something to live for now!" said Little Miss N, referring to the boy.)

With less than an hour to surf, I paddled through a set of chest-high waves on Saturday morning. After I had a heart attack from exertion, I sat on my board and looked toward shore to get my bearings. I'd drifted almost two hundred yards north while paddling. It was mainly close-outs, but the water was glassy I waited for something with a little shoulder. I was testing my nerve. A slightly make-able wave popped up toward me and I took it. Speedy rail grab down the face with the wave cresting in front of me, so I made the split second decision that I probably would enjoy turning back to shore instead of trying to punch through the wave. I was thrilled, though, to make the first fast wave that came my way. The second wave was similar, but I had time to punch through. The third wave was probably my favorite... yet another left (south swells. oy.) and I popped up to my feet, the wave spit me out and the front of my board slammed on the flats. I was amazed that I managed to pull the nose out of the water by stepping back on the tail and I rode the rest of the wave to shore!

Sunday, the wind was already on it, but the shape was better and I had a GREAT time. Some really nice rides. But the best wave of the day was one I shouldn't have taken. It wasn't huge -- maybe chest-shoulder high -- but it jacked up and I decided to keep paddling. I knew it was a bad decision immediately and I ended up in a glorious freefall with my board. I whooped after I came up for air and looked for my board. That ol' black magic, that adrenaline rush, was back, baby!

There's nothing quite like coming out unscathed from a good wipe-out to get your nerve back.

PS. Whistling tune: "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah"

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