Saturday, December 10, 2005

Let the ecstacy catch up

Slipped out the back of the condo with my 9 footer tucked under my arm first thing this morning. I practiced some tai chi to warm up before hand. For me this is the ultimate warm up for surfing. It opens the breath, relaxes me and gets me centered. Believe me, when you are surfing the North Shore during the winter when there's a swell, you want to be centered, relaxed, balanced and ready to hold your breath.

The walk over is uneventful, cut along the edge of the golf course, wait for a golfer to hit a ball off the tee, switch the big board from postition to position, walk along the entrance road that leads to the big hotel and then walk down the public access which goes underneath the "Gilligan's Island" walking bridge that only "guests" can walk on.

I watch the waves break for a few minutes. They're bigger than yesterday. Swell's in the same direction. I wait for a set to come in and then paddle out. You cannot duck dive with a 9 foot long board if you weigh 130 Lbs. Trust me. The plus is that with such a big board, one can travel quickly and power over the rushing white froth. I am able to get outside fairly easily. There's about 5 of us out there from what I can see. Maybe 10 folks inside and then maybe 5 more out towards the middle. It's nicely spread out. The waves are doing the same thing they've been doing all week: jacking up and then backing down. It is such a tricky wave to catch. If you are too much in the middle, the peak flips you, if you are too much on the side, it leaves you behind. And then there is the strong wind blowing out to sea which tries to blow you off the wave. Despite all this, I manage to get a nice ride rather quickly. The drop was rough/bumpy/choppy. My board chattered with the speed. I stayed relaxed and let my weight sink into my hips. The ride took me almost 200 yards in 10 seconds. When I finish, I let the ecstasy catch up and let out a "WHOOOOO!!" I think to myself: "That's why you got this board!" Moments like that are pricelesss. i paddle back out to the line up. End up catching 3 or 4 more waves but none like the first. I spoke with one of the surfers. He was on a fun board - probably an 8 footer. "I rented it from the hotel - $10 an hour." He says: "I'm from So Cal, these aint California waves."

I smile and say: "I'm from there too. I was on a 7.5 short board the first 3 days and could not get a decent ride. It's curved and thin. I just bought this big board from Costco."

He tells me that he normally surfs Malibu. He keeps on trying to catch a wave but I never see him succeed. The conditions are big and tough. Some of the waves are as big as a house. A few of them crash on top of me. I use the leash to pull my self to the surface, happy that I didn't get smashed on to the reef.

The best surfer out there by far was a long haired local. He wore red and was carving up the waves with a short board. "These waves are more forgiving here."

"That's why I'm here." I smile. He laughs.

Very friendly, cool guy. Was cheering me on to go after waves. He'd yell "Paddle! paddle! paddle!" as a likely canditate would come my way.

The end of the sesh came when a huge wave kept me under for 20 seconds. I pulled myself to the surface with my leash. The back of my head still felt the waves impression. I waited for a wave to take me in and was shortly obliged. The kind wave took me all the way to the shore and that was that.

I had planned on surfing in the afternoon but I ended up taking a 4 hour nap. The waves really did put the hammer to me.

Tonight's excitement invloved two games of Scrabble. The first one was a tight race. Some how, I managed to win it, barely. The next game was not as close and I won that one too. We pulled out the egg timer for the second game but in the words of Mom: "We need two."