Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Surf Amnesia

I've heard people talk about getting in car accidents- they almost always say they heard some tires screeching or a horn blowing but most of them don't remember what really happened. A lot of it gets blanked out. Your brain gets so overloaded with intensity that it just shuts down the conscious part to focus on the cyclone of catastrophe swirling around it.

I was there today. The gnarl swirled around me and I don't remember all that much about it. A wave came to me that was so nasty- and perfect- that I really wanted nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on where in time you look at it, I was in the perfect spot to catch it. The wave was setting up to break so far outside of the pack that I had the only real chance at it. I was the prime option and the pack was howling for me to paddle in.

I'm sure three quarters of those jackals just wanted to see me get pitched. They'd love to see me launched by the lip and gutted by my paddle. It's not that they don't like stand up paddlers (in fact, by paddling away from the most popular peaks and by informing newcomers about where to paddle without killing someone, we've kept it pretty cool down here) it's just that watching a fellow surfer get stuffed is part of the fun. In this case getting skewered would have been a safe bet; the take off here is no joke.

On hard south swells the wave crabs through the pilings moving sideways and forward simultaneously. The peak sucks and pitches right across the shallow sand bar that tapers northward. The hot surfers hang out the laundry as they drop down and across the wedge, desperately stalling for the tube. The good guys then blow out of the barrel, pump hard off the bottom and rip to shreds the steep wall that follows. Like I said, the hot guys do all kinds of cool stuff, I just wanted to make the drop.

There are a few things I can recall: I remember the surfer sitting on the inside calling me into the wave. I remember dropping my stance and inching forward, trying to get as much of my weight forward and into the wave as possible. I remember seeing it start to wedge up and push away from the pier. I recall thinking that if I didn't just concentrate and put the pedal to the metal I'd blow the wave. There was a very late drop, impossibly late I thought. I remember thinking about how my tail was grabbing at the steep wall of the wave and I recall thinking, with satisfaction, that the pulled round tail is such the way to go on these boards. And then... nothing.

All I had, after I finally pulled off the wave a hundred yards down the line, was the feeling that something really heavy had just went down. I pulled out on rubbery legs, jittery enough to make me sit down on my board. Everything else was just a blank. Surf Amnesia. Give me some more.


Anonymous said...

hair-raising story beautifully told, with a perfectly placed ending. thanks for writing it down -- made my morning!

John Ashley said...

Thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed that.

It really was a great wave- I think it blew my mind... I think.

Michael Ashley said...

That pisses me off! You can't just leave me hangin like that. I want to see a picture or a video, hear a first-hand account. All I have is that sick feeling in my stomach like I know exactly what you mean and I wish I could have been there to see it and hoot you on!

srfnff said...

Adrenaline cocktail anyone?

cat said...

That was so well written that I actually believed I was there - How many fingers am I holding up, Bro?