Monday, January 31, 2005

You Shouldn't Have Been Here Today

Out in the water today I had an unpleasant thought.

"I just shouldn't be out here."

It wasn't big or heavy or even super crowded. It was just...I don't know...just wrong. Well, wrong for me anyway.

This has been a really weird winter in HB so far. Today was a perfect example. Usually, even if it's junky, it's fairly manageable. Peaks here, a few double-ups over there. Unless it's completely unrideable (which is almost never), I usually get it. I know what's going on and how to lock into a few good ones.

Today was junky, windy, doubled-up, mushy, backing-off, dumping, and lots of other contradictory qualities (if you've surfed HB regularly over the past few months, you know what I'm talking about). And on top of everything else, the current was heavy and the waves were sweeping in from the north, breaking at 90 degree angles from the beach on the southside of the pier (the northside was full on dumping closeouts).

Your basic full-on hassle session.

Unless of course, you were one of the other 10 guys scrapping for waves with me. All of whom were just killing it.

This is the kicker...and essentially the reason I just threw up my hands and went in.

Obviously there is usually a heavy concentration of young guys who rip in HB, especially near the pier. But this was ridiculous. I'm not sure if it was the HB high school surf team or what, but probably 85% of the guys in the water this afternoon were just freakishly talented little shredders.

If the waves had been perfect, "Who cares?" You know what I mean? Some 17 year-old NSSA star drops in, hits it, smacks it, turns, stalls, pulls in, etc. Big deal. Because right after him, YOU drop in, hit it, smack it, turn, stall, pull in, etc. Maybe it's not as pretty, maybe your spray doesn't fan half the lineup, but who gives a shit? You're both surfing well and to the average bystander on the pier, you're interchangeable.

But crummy waves change all that.

These young guys out in the water today...fuck. I'm fighting the current, panting, feeling the burn, and looking every bit a 31-year old corpo softy pushing two hundy, wedged into his Ultimate Elasto (size: L) like pork in a sausage casing. And these high school kids are just floating above the water as they paddle, talking, looking around, moving effortlessly back towards the pier after every wave.

Watching them catch waves is even worse. I'm scratching...digging into these waves. That's the only way I can describe it. I literally felt like a dog digging in the sand - no dignity, shit flying out from between my legs, tongue hanging out. Just pathetic.

But not them. Nope. They pause from their conversation, flip around, take two strokes...and they're gone.


Oh, but that's not even the half of it. What they do once they're up...that's what blew my mind the most.

They'd paddle into some backing-off, closing-out, blown-out, rippled, waist-high piece of shit, and then sort of coast along on their stomachs for just a second...then hop up with the grace of a gymnast. And no, their boards don't sink into the water like when I stand up. When I get up to my feet on a tiny, mushy wave, it's like a giant fat guy getting on a tricycle. Everything just sinks down and all forward momentum slows down to a crawl.

These's like Clark Griswald on his snow saucer with the "secret lubricant". They stand up, their boards planing across the water like Jesus, and suddenly they bottom turn and WHACK! They tear the absolute top off of a wave that had no top. And it's not like they're done either. I mean, once in a very rare while, I'll manage to get up on just the right spot of a crappy little wave, find a bit of speed hidden somewhere in my board posing as a Ford Fiesta stuck in the snow, and I'll get in a little smack or a turn. But then I'm REALLY done. No speed left whatsoever. My only momentum remaining is down into the water.

These fucking guys...they tear the top off the wave and then it's like they have MORE speed. Big cutback, big fan, and then a big re-entry as it finally dumps on the inside.

Anyhow, after about 30 minutes of participating in today's humiliating illustration of gross class-separation, I threw in the towel.

As an added indignity, I had to walk all the way back to my bike parked at 6th street, carrying my longboard up the beach directly against the wind. Then my chain fell off...not once...not twice...but THREE times on the way home.

I shouldn't have been out there.

It's an unpleasant thought, but sometimes it's just true. The big, perfect days are for everyone. Today was a day for the little HB rippers. This was their day.

The Colonel says, "At ease."