08 March 2005

Paying Your Dues

Today was one of those days when you paddle out knowing that you're about to pay your dues. You don't expect to get out of the water smiling. I believe you have to work for everything in life; things will not simply be handed to you because you show up. This applies to surfing and every other aspect of life. If you want to be a better surfer, you have to be willing to go out on days when you know you'll get worked.

I went to my home break today. There are days when I will suit up without ever looking at the waves. This was not one of those days. I went down closer to the water to take a look. Frankly, I didn't like what I saw. There were some shoulders, but for the most part, the waves were jacking up and closing out. Still, it didn't look too dangerous and I did need to surf (since my last time in was that kooky Sunset session from last week). I didn't know what to do. Finally, one of the other female members of the crew said, "Just go in." Then she pointed out an unoccupied spot with a smaller peak.

So I went in. The paddle out required a lot of push-ups. (You know what I'm talking about. It's the thing you do on a longboard because you can't duck-dive—you push up and let the white water rush between you and the board.) That was tiring in itself. Nonetheless, I made it outside unscathed. Then I had to figure out what I was doing. I was on the longest board I've ever had (the 9'6" log) in conditions that were a bit dicey. I distinctly remember that first wave. I don't even know how I made it. The take-off was extraordinarily steep, so much so that I had to lean back and keep the first third of the board in mid-air in order to keep from getting dumped. Somehow, I made the drop, straightened the board out, moved to a better position, and then turned. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the wave. I was truly amazed. See, last year, I didn't understand following the line of the wave and achieving trim. I would just catch a wave and take it straight into the beach. So I never got a good look at the bigger waves I took. Today, I saw the wave. It was way over my head. But before I could think too highly of myself, I got dumped. Then I got caught in the impact zone . . . and got worked. In fact, I got worked a lot today. I caught probably four or five waves and I'm quite proud of that, especially considering the board I was on. I went for waves knowing that if I missed them, I was doomed. This is the part of surfing that isn't fun, and it's not supposed to be. So although I did not get out of the water smiling, I did get out satisfied.


At 3/8/05, 6:36 PM, Blogger beachgirl said...

how do you get over that "uh-o, I'm gonna pearl!" feeling when you know the wave is jacking you up and that if you miss, you're doomed? Do you just say "F!#@it, I'll just get worked?"

At 3/8/05, 6:41 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Yep. Eventually, you'll get worked less and less. What I went through today is nothing compared to what I went through over the past two winters in the water. I've cracked a board, almost drowned, etc. That's all a part of surfing. You should, however, not get in if you think the conditions are more than you can handle.

At 3/8/05, 9:49 PM, Blogger Alan_M said...

Way to go! You have to push it to get to the next level, and to conquer the fear. It's ok to be afraid, it's not ok to back out once your commited. If you think you're not going to make the drop, you probably won't. And if you pull back, then you just kick yourself for the rest of the day. If you have the attitude that you're are going to make it, even if you don't, you're better off, and sometimes you can surprise yourself. Keep giving that new board a workout!

At 3/9/05, 9:49 AM, Blogger RuggerJay said...

From the confines of my desk, in my windowless office, I give you a heartfelt (and jealous!) "WHOOP!"

Agree completely with Alan - it's easy to psych yourself out. Looking back on some of the nastier wipeouts I've had (my worst was on a 10 foot wave that snapped my first board, my cherished Brewer, in half), I've realized that the mental "blink" at the crucial moment is what sent me to the washing machine.

At 3/9/05, 10:39 AM, Blogger gracefullee said...

As one of the dawn patrol at that break, I can tell you it was super-fun earlier. High tide, mushy. Yes, there were walls, but there were shoulders if you were patient. I wish I'd seen your wave! It's such a great feeling to crank back on that tail and make the drop of a steep wave... and it's better when the wave doesn't totally close out when you make the bottom turn!

Today, I don't know if you went out, but it was dicier at high tide. It was fun when I first got in at 7am. Walls, but I caught three slopey waves with shoulders right off.

Then, it started getting funky around 8:10. I know the time because I caught a wave and rode it almost all the way to shore and wondered if I should just head home or paddle out for one more... so of course, I looked at my watch and said "just one more." (It's like my brother said about gambling... "You always coulda left sooner!")

I sat there with Archer John and kept paddling for waves that wouldn't break, and pulling out of waves that jacked up at the last minute when the strong high tide backwash hit it. It honestly became ridiculous!


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