05 April 2009

"Shaun Tomson! You're Goin' Down!"

How many people can yell it, mean it and have it come true? Not many, right? Well, I'm one of the few then. There's no way I was going to let some former world champ on a shortboard beat me at my home break!

I know what you're thinking. That chick must have attached her leash in the parking lot, tripped over it on the way to the water and hit her head. Kook! No head-hitting here, my friends. Instead, I was competing in some form of relay for a charity surf-a-thon. We were split into teams. The rules were a bit confusing to those of us who were competing. The gist of it was that we would compete in 15 minute heats. The goal was to catch five waves (or as many as you could). If you caught your five waves before the heat was over, you could get out and tag your teammate. If you got fewer than five waves, you got out once the heat was up. Somehow, this was supposed to be a race. And a surf contest? All of that was unclear. Since it was for charity, who cared? I figured I'd paddle out and have fun.

I was in the first heat. So was Shaun. (My god, that is one gorgeous hunk of man!) As we waited for the horn to start the heat, that's when I turned and let him know how it was going to be! I knew I had the advantage, hands down. He's a world champion who has surfed some of the best breaks on the planet. He knows what to do with a good wave. Well guess what, Shaun? My home break is not a good wave. Nor is it a particularly well-shaped wave for those who ride shortboards. I suppose I thought he'd be waiting for something rideable to appear on the horizon. I knew better than to wait for that. This is the spot where I learned how to surf and still surf on occasion. I could see our home break closeouts were in full effect. The horn eventually sounded. About six of us paddled out for the heat. Four of them paddled too deep. Two of us stayed on the inside. I wasn't necessarily trying to get the longest waves. I was going for my five waves. If this is a relay then time matters.

I am, by nature, a kind of shy person. I still suffer from performance anxiety even though I've spent a lifetime as a competitive athlete. I'm especially prone to performance anxiety when I know a lot of people are watching me. For some reason, I didn't care today. I didn't even think about all of the people on the beach. I was focused on the waves, on the fact that I was not going to let myself get embarrassed at my home break. I can surf those shitty waves quite well. Katy caught one. Then I caught one. Then I caught another and another and so on—four lefts and one right. Before I knew it, I was bellying/paddling in to tag the next person on our team. And then what happened? I have no idea. Eventually the horn sounded and other people went out. Shaun Tomson came in. What about the other people? I wasn't looking at them. I only had eyes for Shaun Tomson. He is the first surfer I remember seeing on TV. Back in the days before Fuel TV, there was something called ABC's Wide World of Sports. Hell, this was back before cable television. There was no need for a cable box when the only channels you had were 2,4,5,7,9,11,13 and a few on UHF. But I remember seeing a lot of Shaun Tomson. I also remember that he took my breath away. Some 30 years on, I finally meet Shaun Tomson and I can't even make eye contact with him. When I told a teammate that I'd given Shaun Tomson a little gift today, she said, "What was it? Your tongue?" Is this how polite ladies speak to one another?

It was a fun day. I got to talk trash to Shaun Tomson. I also got a hug from Shaun Tomson. What a nice man, he is. Because I've had a crush on him since I was a teenager, I didn't say much to him. What was I going to say that didn't involve a lot of flustered conversation and drool?

I also happened upon Rob Machado. I got a hug from him too! I remarked that we have the same hair. He directed me to look in the back of his hair; he thought there was one bone fide dreadlock back there. When I paddled back out a little later for a free surf separate from the event, I got to spend some time in the lineup with Peter Townend. He was freezing. He'd just gotten back from surfing in Australia so he was not amused by the water temperature here. He, like Tomson and Machado, is a nice and gracious man.

This was a surprisingly great surf day. I hadn't expected to have this much fun or see all of these great surfers there. I'm assuming a good deal of money was raised to support the cause. The relay was still in full swing by the time I left (with the spouse, the child and the dog in tow). Perhaps if I ever see Shaun Tomson again, I won't be afraid to actually have a conversation with him.


At 4/6/09, 7:42 AM, Blogger Alan_M said...

I made a complete ass of myself when I met Gerry Lopez, and I didn't even have a crush on him.

At 4/6/09, 8:11 AM, Blogger tres_arboles said...

Sounds like you got a piece of the awesome this weekend, Sister. Although I find it pretty easy to avoid worship of the leaders in our sport, I really do admire the Stylemasters/Bustin' Down the Door gen. They lead at a time when I was a full surfing wannabe back in Connecticut, and I am not embarrassed to admit I bought surf magazines at least ten years before I ever paddled out for the first time. Frankly, I find it inspiring that guys like Tomson are still in the water every chance they get.


At 4/6/09, 8:30 AM, Blogger tres_arboles said...

About your knees: would you mind emailing me at tres_arboles at comcast dot net?

I played 19 years of rugby, have had both ACLs done and fixed, and and presently trying to treat my full blown osteo-arthritis with viscous injections. They seem to do nicely for a few months but then the benefits rapidly dissapate.

Since my insurer will only authorize this stuff twice a year, I go half the year in pain. But because I am 46, my Orthopedist (who I love) really doesn't want to do my bicompartmental replacement for another 5-10 years. I could probably convince him to do mine next year, but I need anecdotal support.

So what's your story? Age (if I might ask), sports and injury history, technology you're gonna use, etc. Any little bit of info will help me.

Yours in knee issues,


At 4/6/09, 12:25 PM, Blogger Jamie Watson said...

What a great read! I loved this story! You are too cute. So glad you got to meet Shaun and Rob.

At 4/6/09, 4:39 PM, Blogger Esteban Pumpernickel said...

'Back in the days before Fuel TV, there was something called ABC's Wide World of Sports. Hell, this was back before cable television.'

I tied explaining that the other. The joy of seeing surfing on TV!! Every grom in the neighborhood would be calling each other freaking out. There was no Tivo, or even VCRs in most homes- you had one chance to catch it. Nice post, even though ST makes me want to rip out my eyeballs when I see him at the 'con... Still nice post!

At 4/7/09, 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shot super 8 home movies of surfing off the tv when it came on Wide World of Sports.

Believe it or not, the film came out watchable!

At 4/8/09, 1:07 PM, Anonymous j said...

Shooot. This made me laugh out loud because:

1) Shaun Tomson IS nerves-inducing beautiful and I can't imagine being on a board near him. I feel like I'd involuntarily roll off or something equally embarassing.

2) You BEAKED Shaun Tomson!? And then caught a wave?! Style. Points.


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