I arrived at my break and sat watching the waves. I went back to my car and gave my caddy a thumbs up. I can do this. There’s the odd huge set coming through but I can deal. I can surf the 3-4 ft. waves. I can do this. No more dallying in the white-water. I’m ready to really move on and upwards. 3-4 ft. waves are perfect for my skillset.
We got down to the beach and I looked out at the waves. Small set, lull, massive set, small set, lull, small set, lull, lull, lull, small set, lull, gargantuan set, small set. I pulled my wetsuit on and tried talking myself into believing I could recreate what I was doing on Saturday in my lesson. Pick the right wave and surf it. How simply easy is that?
‘Those waves aren’t big. They’re fine,’ said my caddy. Easy for him to say. He would be sitting comfortably on the sand, armed with the camera so I can see my mistakes and correct them.
‘Yeah. They are,’ I said. I picked up my board and paddled out. I arrived at the line-up and said, ‘Hey; how are you going?’ to a nearby man.
He looked at me with piercing eyes. I waved slowly and said even slower, ‘Heelllooo. Hey. Hi.’ (Come on man. Don’t be a dick.) He grunted at me and turned his back. Well. All righty then. I know who I’m going to be snaking waves off in the future. Jackass.
I paddled a bit further out. I hate, I hate, I mean I really hate, how nervous I get when a big set comes and I have to take it on the head. My board is not duck-diveable so you can understand my trepidation of taking big waves on the head. So I put myself further out so to definitely be clear of breaking waves. I paddled over the forming walls and took some time to study the incoming swell. Even though I was further out in the line-up, when a gargantuan set came through, they broke earlier…on my head. I didn’t count on how big they were when I took a breath (bailing from my board). It tossed me around and I felt my lungs burning. Well. Darn. I finally managed to get some air and guess what? Another big wave. Bigger = bigger breath. Found myself singing la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la in my head as I waited for the rollercoaster to end. Got some air again. Oh damn. Another wave. Back under I went. I ended up on the complete other side of the line-up down the beach. I paddled in. Paddled back out. Tried again.
I got pounded. I wish I could duckdive my board. The crux of it is that you have to already be competently surfing big waves before you can step down to a size board that you can duckdive. Oh the hard work that is surfing.
I ended up having a really good surf. I just had to admit on those massive sets (they were 2-3ish metres/6-8 ft.) that I’d only be able to do white-water. (I am so sick of white-water.) The unbroken waves are easier to ride because they’re faster and cleaner, and you can really work on turns and actually controlling your ride. The white-water is just white-water. Fun, yes, but kind of boring now that I’ve had such success with unbroken waves. So I’d spin my board around when faced with dumping closeouts and just ride the white-water. Still fun, yes. I managed to catch a couple of unbroken waves on the times when the swell was actually the size it was predicted to be (3-4 ft.).
And heading to the shower afterwards, Nikki Van Dijk (WCT surfer) came trotting past in a bottle green wetsuit. She was on her way to Express Point , a heaving reef break just on the edge of my local break (which is also Nikki’s local break).
‘Hey Nikki,’ I said.
‘Hello! How are you going? How was your surf?’ she said.
She ran past, her blonde hair loose and bouncing. She is so down to earth and friendly. Now compare her attitude to the guy earlier. Nikki’s just come back from a 5-month jaunt around the world, surfing incredible waves and scoring well in International heats, and she stops and chats kindly to me. That guy caught ONE wave and tanked it the rest of the time and he was “too good” to say hello to me. Yep. Surfing. Where the pros are friendly and the kooks are jerks. I don’t think it matters how well you surf. If you’re a jackass, you will always be a kook.