Looks like it’s gonna be big and nasty, just like I like it!
Monday am actual buoy readings:
Some nor’ Easter blew waves up for some fun today. They were BIG yet well- formed. I paddled out with difficulty but finally got out to where I was no longer bombarded by the strong white water.
Getting out through the white water is easy if you time it right and find a rip current to help you. Rip currents kill LOTS OF PEOPLE- people who have absolutely no business being in the ocean... but rips are surfer’s friends. Where there’s a rip the waves are either non-existent or much smaller. Easy to paddle through. When it’s big though, rip or no rip, it’s REALLY HARD to get out, such was the case today.
Panaramic pic, albeit not a great one of where I was today. There’s surf to the left and right and straight ahead. Room for everyone. I’d say there’s about 3/4 of a mile of surf to be had.
The sky, the wet sand, and the glistening fish scales on the water offer bedtime memories that keep me alive. When I’m on my death bed, these views will be in my heart along with the sound of the wind buffeting my clothing and the sounds of the waves exploding. Everyone needs something to keep their heart pounding for more life, and these experiences are my lifeblood. Without them, I would die inside.
When I get out past where I’m no longer a victim of attempted homicide by water, I get to rest. I have a self-rule:
DONT TAKE A WAVE TIRED!
I am the sole enforcer of this self-imposed speed limit. When I paddle for a wave not-yet-recovered from the last one, tragedy usually ensues. I slip, I stumble, I crash and burn. Never paddle for a wave until the heart goes back down to...110, 120, etc. Break this rule, and you’ll be really sorry. Other surfers might think I’m being polite:
“Go ahead, dude, it’s your turn- I just got one...”
I’m not that polite nor charitable usually (although I really am when there’s just a few people out there). It’s pure self-preservation that I let perfectly great waves go under me unridden.
When I’ve recovered from any extreme exertion, it’s time to start the hunt. You don’t want to be where everyone else and their brother is- too much competition. I like to see my wave coming and take it, which takes experience, attention to detail, knowledge of wave behavior, and a great deal of luck.
You need to look for a wave that is going to jack up in front of you or close to your right or left. You also need to be in front of where it’s about to tilt forward and flop over, to use land-lubber terms.
I almost always align myself with the four telephone poles on the street next to the parking lot. Usually it’s a great spot. Distance from shore depends upon how big it is. I’ve been out there during some storms in HUGE waves with one or two or no people. Huge wave trains can be seen on the horizon (I’ve always called them “BLACK MUMBAS), and when they get closer, you better paddle out as fast as you can or you’re gonna get CRUSHED. Black mumbas are rage-filled angry demons, spirits of the undead who want your body so they can live again. Not wanting that of course, I always keep my wits about me and I always remember another rule of mine:
NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE OCEAN.
Assuming you ain’t scanning for preservation of life and limb, it’s time to surf. Surfing is a slowly-acquired sport, learned incrementally one size wave after another. Thresholds are attained and passed repeatedly.
Sizes increase every year. Desire for improvement never stops, ever. It’s a never ending search for bigger and better highs. You find yourself saying “wow, I really CAN surf big waves.” Or, “Wow, I’m pretty good at this.” Cocky statements like that can get you in trouble but they also give one the confidence needed for sports like this. You must know what I’m saying from your own experiences, from whatever sport you have chosen to sustain your life.
When I see a decent wave coming towards me, I look left and right for others who might want it also, and if nobody else is near me or going for it, I grab the tip of my board and swivel around on the tail then look behind me to see when to start paddling.
Usually by then I know if I’m going to the left or right. You can see by these pics that good waves have a peak in the middle and slope off to both sides, lowering down nicely. Shitty bad waves are straight and flat on top and flop over all at once (close-outs). NO BUENO!!!
Im goofy-footed, right foot front, chest facing the wave going left... back facing the wave going right. I like either way, but it’s a superior sensation going left as a goofy footer, fingers on wave face, the whole world in front of you... going really fast.
Assuming I’m in the right spot though, for my chosen wave, I need to be narrowly focused. I check again for other surfers so there aren’t any collisions, then start paddling like hell for speed.
This is where my lifetime as a competitive swimmer kicks in. I was a butterflyer and a freestyle sprinter, and know how to hit the gas. I see a lot of people out there who never had that experience and that’s my edge on them when it comes to competing for a wave. It helps to have a kick ass surfboard also. Check mark in that box too.
My wave lifts the back of the board up feet first then I’m on top of the wave, a literal tipping point.
Slow paddling down, and the wave keeps going without me(DONT stop paddling!). The heavy winds create a salt spray that stings the eyes, and heavy blinking enables me to see barely well enough so I can tell if I’m in the right spot for descent down the face.
Sometimes Im totally blinded, yet put my faith in myself and keep going. In the old days when I did that I just KNEW that I was going to fall, and I always did, that lack of confidence turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy of total failure. Failure gets old eventually, so one time I shouted to myself-
...and slid down the wave totally blind... and made it! I’ve been doing that ever since when blinded by forty-plus mile per hour wind/saltwater spray eye drops paddling for a wave.
Back to my wave- if I've done my job right, I can feel my speed increase and something similar to G-forces affect me and the board. I stop paddling and grab the board for the quick jump up onto the board.
This movement HAS to be done in one smooth hop. Anything other than an instant upright stance results in loss of balance and crashing. Don-wanna-do-dat.
If I am positioned properly on the board, it kinda looks like I am in a crouching pooping stance- feet spread, knees bent to absorb irregularities in the wave face.
AS SOON AS IM UPRIGHT (and I mean immediately), I need to do a sharp, perfectly executed bottom turn so I’m going sideways along the path of the breaking wave instead of heading towards shore.
Assuming all of the above occurs in relative peace, it’s a wave well-chosen, well-paddled for, well-ridden. Enough of those, and I can go home high as a kite with endorphins coursing through my veins- mixed with a little blood.
Hi, my name is
David Benjamin and I started swimming in Chappaqua, NY., swam for Badger swim team, Mercersburg Academy, NC State University, then Westport YMCA masters. I got bored of the ol' back and forth of competitive swimming and the high cost of skiing. Surfing took over and I never looked back.