Ever been caught inside?
A two hundred yard wide swath of double overhead, pissed off white wash rolling at you like a subterranean tsunami death surge? A pitching blue wall stalking you and holding, holding, holding... until it's locked on and singled you out for termination. Been there? Know that feeling?
Friday's swell peaked in one solid set that caught most of us with our pants down. Kelly Kraus sent me this:
"THAT set was epic. I had actually caught a wave just before the set came through and was far over inside, safe in the channel, paddling back along the shoulders of the whole batch with the best view possible.
There were so many good waves in that set I lost count. Maybe 6 or 7 beautiful rolling rights with no one anywhere near clear water. Mike G on a SU and Dave Lopez on an old windsurf board (being used as a prone gun) were the farthest out but on this set it made no difference. Both guys had no leashes and lost their boards. The rest of the prone pack were positioned well inside of them and all got mowed by healthy whitewater.
With no one for reference it was hard to gauge the size but it was probably close to double OH. I saw MGs board bouncing in doing those ten foot high leaps that SUs take. The set was so long I made it back out half way and tried to hook into a shoulder on one of the last ones but positioned a little too deep and got nailed by whitewater. Pop went the leash but the board only went about 50 feet.
The really classic thing was Serge Dedina’s son Israel after the set with big eyes and a strain in his voice saying something like “Kelly, do you see any more big ones coming?” He had that “oh man, I don’t need this” look going but as a testament to his grom courage he stayed out."
Kelly once told me, "Guys get caught inside out there and just don't come back". I know that feeling, I'm the guy. A deep winter smack down courtesy of an icy, black Aleutian monster left a mark on me, changed me. When the place is really solid, it's creepy; you're the hunted. There's no set take off spot, and, for me, the fact that socks you right in the gut is this: there's no top end. On the right swell you could scratch over the top of what you think is the worst of it and face an absolute nightmare- and you are totally trapped. It could happen. The place can hold it. And that seed of possibility roots in your mind, it haunts you until you shake it free or you give up.
Really, it's one of surfing's purest moments. You're caught inside, what are you going to do? Some of us never come back, some laugh like maniacs as the axe falls and some put their heads down and paddle back out for more. Like Israel Dedina, eleven years old, shaking it free- and charging.
Top Photo: Kelly Kraus, at the tail end of a fun right- heading for the relative safety of the rivermouth.
Bottom Photo: Synched up: Serge in the background and Israel in the fore, pre-cleanup and ripping!
All Photos: Spidey