30 April 2005

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.


At 4/30/05, 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, the best thing you can take away from your session yesterday is that you now know you can go out in that size again - and survive. Next time you will take off on waves. From what I recall of the few times I've gotten size at San-O, it seemed like you could stay on the inside and ride decent waves. The outside ones would not roll all the way through. But when I paddled on to the outside it was a different ball game. Twice as big or more. And, you are pretty far out so it spooks you a little more.

At 5/1/05, 6:53 AM, Blogger Whiffleboy said...

You're absolutely right, sister, it's all one big learning process. You can't surf bigger surf without being able to function (i.e. sit, position, dodge bombs, etc) in bigger surf. Yesterday was a lesson in functioning.

I guarantee that you will be a little more comfortable out in the lineup next time it's a little bigger than what you're used to simply because you were functioning in larger surf yesterday.

Being able to say to yourself "I've been in bigger surf than this" does wonders for my confidence and comfort. I imagine it will do the same for you.

At 5/1/05, 3:19 PM, Blogger puttzle said...

Anonymous, I believe you were at the Old Man's area of San Onofre as what you described fits. I'm not sure just where surfsister paddled out at, probably the Point knowing her, and the Point does not back off then reform. Also knowing what San-O can get like when it has size, Friday was one of those lots of walls days. Sneaker sets that pretty much close out and put the fear of you know who in you. Hard to make, lots of sections, truly not your great San Onofre, but still good. Surfsister, you MUST catch it when those sweet lefts are rolling through the Point. Only problem then would be the crowd.

One other thing surfsister, fear in big waves, to me anyway, has always been those times when you are scratching like a madman (or woman) to make it over a bomber wave and hearing the one behind it already breaking. Oh yeah, that's tons o' fun!

At 5/1/05, 4:18 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

We entered the water a little farther down, Puttzle. I'm not sure where we were, but we got in at a spot that had very few rocks. A French dude in an old VW told us to get in right there. Anonymous, part of what scared the shit out of me is that we were so far out. At least at our beach break at home, I know that when I get worked, I'll end up in only several feet of water. Then I can just stand up. But at San O, we were nowhere near the shore. We were way the hell out there. That was enough to make me think twice about going for stuff. Puttzle, I did paddle for some waves. The ones I almost got just mushed away beneath me. The ones I really wanted to go for were just huge walls of water. In the end, I didn't know what to do but be scared and be careful. Whiff is right though. My fears have definitely shifted. After what I saw on Friday, the big stuff I see at home won't be as intimidating as it once was.

At 5/2/05, 11:49 AM, Blogger puttzle said...

Good! It is a continuing learning process, as whiffleboy said. Sounds like you went out at around the Four Doors area, that French guy is called, would you believe it, "Frenchy", that's his nickname.


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