My Heart Belongs to San O
Now that I've had time to contemplate yesterday's session, I realize that San O did me a favor. I had never been in conditions like that before. Ever. This was something new. And instead of trying to charge waves I didn't understand—waves I also feared—I listened to my instinct and watched. I was not necessarily in a negative space. I was in an unrealistic space, kicking myself for not having a wave count. Now, over 24 hours later, I get it. The wave count doesn't mean shit in the long run. Surfing isn't only about standing up on a board. It also involves learning to adapt to the conditions you're given. If you're in conditions you've never seen before, the only way to adapt is to watch and learn. I recognize now that this is what I did. The San O that greeted us yesterday was not the San O I was expecting. When San O gets big, it gets serious! That's when you have to get serious too.
I was talking to the manager of the Rip Curl store in Santa Monica tonight. He surfs at my home break and I told him I was mad at all of the shortboarders for not telling me that San O could get big like that. He said, "Oh yeah! You can drown out there." Yeah, that was a distinct possibility yesterday. When you've been surfing for decades, the conditions I saw yesterday won't necessarily spook you. But I haven't been surfing that long and what I saw yesterday was new to me. So I think I instinctively knew that these waves were something I didn't want to tangle with. The combination of adrenaline-sucking fear, constantly paddling to get past the outside waves, and jacked-up walls of water made me instinctively say "no" and shut myself down. That was probably the best thing for me to do.
Now, let's talk about that final wave I saw. In all honesty, I think the thing was at least 12 feet tall. It was monstrous. It was beautiful. If I were a religious person, I would swear I saw the face of God in that wave as the sun shone on it. It was an amazing sight. And it seemed like I watched it for minutes. That wave, believe it or not, changed me. I don't know that I can articulate what I mean. Still, I can feel that something is different. And so, my love for San O grows. I can't wait to go back.