Last weekend, like any other day recently, I checked the surf report – brilliant it says 2-3 feet and glassy (a beginners heaven), jumped in my rustbucket and headed to the beach with my trusty board in tow. At the beach, the excitement in the air was palpable. Something was wrong. The type of surf I like is fundamentally different from what experienced surfers froth at and so if these surfers were frothing, I was going to be struggling. And frothing they were.
In my year of surfing, I’ve started to notice that on big swell days, surfers (that is the competent ones, unlike myself) get this look in their eyes. I call it the “Cowabunga look”. It’s that look you get when you know you’re going to do something incredibly stupid (like throwing yourself into overhead or double overhead waves armed with little more than a fragile fibreglass flotation device), but the sheer potential for fun and mayhem is just too hard to resist and is not offset by the said potential stupidity. Think Michelangelo from TMNT:
Usually if I get to the beach and it’s too big for me, I will press down my primal, survival-instinct driven fear, and paddle out to the lineup. It will usually take me a good 5-10 minutes, but I can at least do that now since I have built up some paddle power from my daily surf sessions (and to my growing horror, I’m starting to develop “guns”). I will then unashamedly be that stalkerish girl who floats around observing all the other surfers and not-so-subtly shadowing the good ones. However, today was beyond my ability to get out. In fact, I didn’t even try. My survival instinct kicked in and flatly said “no way”. It wasn’t just big per se (it looked 7 ft to me, but I’m told beginners are notorious bad judges of size). It was also pulsing with strong pushing currents and lots of closeouts and the only surfers out there were not just competent, but clearly exceptional.
So, instead, I swallowed my pride, and sat and watched from the beach, and dreamt of one day too getting the Cowabunga look too.