16 August 2005

Not Quite the Swell I Was Looking For

I know the swell is coming. My home break was closed out enough to make me veto any idea I had of getting wet there. All I could think of was LPB . . . and off I went (even though gasoline prices are at a level that I consider obscene). I checked the other breaks as I headed up PCH. Sunset? Flat. Topanga? Questionable. Malibu? A zoo. Upon arrival at LPB, I wasn't sure what to think or what to do. The tide was high, yet something was coming through every so often. Unfortunately, there was also a crowd. The old me would see that and leave almost immediately. But, I realize now, there's a new me emerging. Instead of worrying about the crowd (and being the only woman AND being black), I focused on the wave. The shortboards were having trouble, meaning it might be perfect for a longboard. I hemmed and hawed for awhile before finally approaching a guy for his parking ticket. It's kind of amazing that I even did that. So, I went through my pre-surf ritual. I put in my contacts. I put on my wetsuit. And then I put on my stocking cap and bandana. (I will be so glad when my hair finally locks!) The paddle out was perfect. Waves rolled through, but they weren't bombs and my timing was such that I made it to the outside without getting my hair, face, or shoulders wet. It's so interesting to me that any I even did any of this, especially at a break where no one knows me. I tend to be intimidated in situations where I'm completely out of my element. In my mind, being black and female means you stand out like a sore thumb in the lineup. What I've come to realize is that I am in my element once I'm in the water . . . and so is everyone else. As for sticking out like a sore thumb, I notice it more than anyone else does. People stare at me, but I don't know if it's because I'm a female, because I'm a black female, because I'm a black female wearing a fetching hair cover, all of the above, or none of the above. So, over the last few weeks, I've gotten over my issues. The guys out today were nice to me. Most of us weren't speaking anyway. We just sat there waiting for waves. I think, as with anything athletic, people watch you to see if you have skills. Race doesn't come into play with that. The impression I got is that these guys were waiting to see if I could actually surf. Once I got my first wave, I was just another person in the lineup—another person to contend with for the few waves that rolled through. Well, the waves weren't great. They had very little punch. I thought I would go out there on a longboard and clean up, but it was not to be. I couldn't quite get into the waves either. I did get a few and that was fine. On one of them, I did something I've seen others do and always wondered about. I got this wave, had it all to myself, rode it for awhile, and then noticed it was going to close out in front of me. Mind you, the LPB wave is a fat wave (my description); it seems to pick up more water as it rolls through. (The wave at my homebreak, by contrast, is a lean wave.) Anyway, I saw that this thing was going to close out and the last thing I wanted was about six feet of water to crash down on my head. So I went back up to thee top of the wave and bailed out the back of it. There was nowhere else to go without taking some punishment. Now I understand why people do that.

I can see that the swell is coming. I expect it to really show its face tomorrow. And I will be nowhere near LPB (since that's not a wave you want to tangle with when it's truly firing). I got out after an hour. I was freezing (in my long-sleeved springsuit) and I had to be home by 12:30. Before I left, I approached a guy who was watching the water. I asked if he was staying. It's moments like those that make me laugh. He didn't answer immediately and wore a look of confusion. I know his mind was trying to process the fact that here was a black woman at this surf spot and maybe she surfs, maybe she doesn't, this is all so confusing. It's a look I've seen before. Anyway, I approached him because I wanted to give him my parking ticket. When he saw that, he smiled and said, "You made my day."


At 8/16/05, 4:32 PM, Anonymous da latin flava brotha said...


I don't think people were looking at you because your a woman or because you are black. It could be that you are a new face, that's all. You should give LPB a go on a good sized day, the drops are coolio.

At 8/16/05, 4:57 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

I've been there on a good-sized day. That place rocks!! But I don't think a longboard is the right weapon of choice when that place goes off the hook. I'd rather just watch or hit a break with a slower wave (at least until I get a little better).

At 8/16/05, 6:27 PM, Blogger Whiffleboy said...

I'm salivating at the thought of hitting it up Thursday. It really is kind of a mellow wave even when its 4-5ft (thank God!) until you get too far inside then, like you said, it gets thicker and dumps you. It's a perfect training ground to get used to surfing bigger waves than you're accustomed too.

What's funny is that, every 20 minutes or so, I'd hit up the webcam to check LPB out. I was watching you the whole time, basically, and neither one of us knew it. :-)

At 8/16/05, 8:35 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Didn't you see me in my head covering? It took me awhile before I realized that from the webcam the surfers in the water are about the size of ants. I used to just think the place was always empty. Yeah, I'm a little slow


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