I thought I'd share this with you. It really was an awesome night, so I thought I'd put it down in text so hopefully you could enjoy the stoke as much as I did. Oh well, almost as much! ha ha.
What is my secret for reaching a high that is far better than any drug can offer? If you’ve got a minute, let me tell you a little story which may inspire you to go on the hunt for this ultimate buzz as well. Just let me quickly set the stage for you before I give you the secret. This happened just the other night. It was just another night, I know, but this night was very different!
We were out surfing the most perfect three-foot right hander breaking down a sand bank. Now, this wave can be quite lame, but due to a recent swell battering, the bank had acquired very good shape. The first section of the wave commenced as the swell came off the deep water and hit the shallow sand bank. To make the first section, you had to pump the board down the line to develop enough speed to beat the foam ball of white water, which was consistently hot on your tail trying to run you down. If the wave worked in your favour, you could jam in a couple of solid top turns, that’s if you had your timing and positioning just right! After the first section, the wave fattened out a bit. This was the section that prevented the wave from being totally perfect, although, it did offer a bit of variety. During this section, you had to do a large sweeping cutback and then sit in the white water and wait patiently for the all important inside section to take shape. Just at the right time, you had to lean forward and execute three or four deep penetrating strokes with the paddle to put yourself in the right position, to get launched down the line. The wave dredged hard and fast along the edge of the inside sand bank. You needed to get everything just right to make it all the way through to the safety of the channel. Poor timing and positioning meant one of two things, you either were too slow and got caught behind the white water, or, you dug a rail in the pocket and got thrown over the falls onto the very shallow sand bar bellow. The inside section was by far the most exciting part of the wave as it was changing consistently. This was caused by the incoming tide changing the depth of water which covered the shallow sand. You had to watch the wave like a hawk at all times to anticipate these subtle changes.
It was an incredible afternoon!
The sets of waves were consistent enough and perfectly spaced.
Light winds fanned the ocean giving it an almost glassy surface.
The late afternoon sky was crystal-clear, not a wisp of cloud to be seen.
Across the bay to the west, the magnificent mountainous backdrop stood there in the distance like a panoramic oil painting hanging on your grandmother’s wall. The smoke from a pre-winter-controlled burn blanketed the valleys making the scene even more breathtaking. The peaks of the highest hills poked through the smoke and reached high up into the late afternoon sky. The mood in the water that arvo was great! The mixed crew of adults and kids were all in fine spirits and living the dream. Everyone was rushing around trying to get their fill of these incredible waves before the sun ducked behind the mountains and closed the day.
What I have just described to you is medicine for the soul. For those of you who don’t surf, this is why we surfers all run around looking for perfect waves as much as possible. This is why the work stops when the surf is on, which can be quite unfortunate if you are trying to build a new home! This is why, your partner can get a little hot under the collar when he or she has to look after the kids when the surf is pumping.
You probably know that days like this a quite rare, you must absorb as much of this healing tonic as possible whilst it is there.
So how do you turn this tonic into the worlds finest drug that has existed for tens of thousands of years that unfortunately only a few are lucky enough to find? Let me introduce ingredient number one……
My blonde haired nine-year-old son who has just kicked off his surfing addiction! He is riding a *Pressure System 7'4" Wombat. Yes, you’re right in thinking the board is a little high volume for him, but he has ridden one now for a couple of years and it is proving to be a fantastic all-rounder for him. Although this SUP is designed for adults, it’s short length and super buoyancy has helped my son’s surfing move ahead in leaps and bounds! * He has spent a lot of time, probably three years or so paddling on flat water, so the transition to the waves has been quite easy for him. He had already developed fantastic board control and technique before entering the surf zone.
I can’t really describe the feeling of having him out in the waves with me. It’s a combination of intense stress and insane pleasure. I’m always worried about him dropping in on somebody or bailing in front of someone, but so far, he just seems to be in the right place at the right time. I have tried to teach him enough to keep him and everyone else in the water safe, but if you have a nine-year-old, I’m sure you are aware of their listening capabilities. I’ve decided to just relax a little and let him learn from his mistakes. For those of you who have been in some busy line ups, you will understand that you tend to learn very quickly from these mistakes.
So, I guess you’re thinking, "What’s this ingredient he’s talking about? Is he just talking about his son?" Well, there is more to it than that. When I watch him paddling into a good size wave and he flies down the face with the intense look of concentration, I know he has just discovered a brand-new excitement in his life, an excitement that has the power to change everything for him. An excitement that has the power to shape the rest of his life. This has helped me uncover an emotion that I have only experienced on very rare occasions.
You’ve probably experienced this feeling as well at some stage. It’s an extremely positive feeling that is drawn up from your deepest gut and gushes down from your mind all at the same time, connecting in the middle and shooting out a rush of euphoria that engulfs your whole body leaving you completely marinated in pleasure. Yes, your probably right, I am getting a bit carried away here, but all parents will have experienced this. It’s one of those experiences that can really make you. It’s the feeling you get when you hold them for the first time when they are born, or when you watch them walk into school on their first day in their tiny school uniform, looking scared and anxious as they timidly step into their whole new world.
Anyway, well it’s one of those times and those times are priceless.
I guess, as he gets older and more experienced, he’ll be out there getting all the good waves and I’ll be the old fart on the shoulder or in the carpark glaring at him with eyes of jealousy! I’m sure I will be stoked for him.
Now back to the scene.
The sun was quickly nearing the mountainous horizon to the west. Everyone was hurriedly paddling around trying to get one last wave, or maybe two. As we all know, in our part of the world, when the sun ducks out of sight behind the hills, darkness falls upon us very fast.
Things had been getting better and better on the water. The light breeze that had been fanning the ocean surface all afternoon had totally disappeared, which resulted in a complete glass off. The sky and the ocean had both matched each other into a dark grey blue with the most beautiful sash of pink just above the mountains out to the west. It was becoming impossible to see the sets of waves approaching as the sky and the ocean, with its smooth oily surface, had blended into one.
But this is when it all started to happen.
The sets started to pulse.
The wait between sets seemed to have shortened and the size of the set waves had increased a little.
I yelled to my son "Hey one more! I’m serious mate, we have to get out of here it is getting too dark!" I had said that to him now about three times and he kept talking me into staying out for one more. Everyone disappeared very quickly to the safety of the car park. The sun had completely disappeared now and the pink glow over the mountains was quickly fading into night.
The four of us that were left in the water had been getting wave after wave and these were no ordinary waves, they had gotten better and better all afternoon and were running perfectly down the entire edge of the bank before extinguishing in the deep channel.
I grabbed another screamer all the way through! I was at the highest level of excitement. I yelled to my son, "Right this is definitely it! One more!" This time it was me extending our stay.
I laid on my board with my paddle blade under my chest and paddled as fast as I could the long distance back out to the take-off area, to try and snag one more. The wave was breaking like a machine at this point. Wave after perfect wave were pulsing in with hardly a break between sets. How was I supposed to go in!
Now to toss in the final ingredient….
I reached the take-off zone and stood there on my board in anticipation for the next wave. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be long judging by the rapid spurt of waves we had just experienced. I took some time to look around. I could just make out a few people in the car park getting out of their wetsuits and some sliding their boards into their bags for the very happy drive home. The green light on top of the channel marker, which is in place to guide the boats home, was flashing and reflecting across the oily surface of the water, giving the near dark conditions a very JAWS like feeling.
As I stood my heart raced.
I always get like this when I know the possibility of perfection is on offer.
I also get quite nervous for some reason even though I am just competing against myself.
* I am riding my Pressure System 8'6" Surf SUP. I trust this board with my life. I have put this board in some very critical situations. It has never let me down. *
It was very hard to spot the sets coming as the sky and ocean were totally blended, my concentration was intense. I was using all my senses to try and get some sort of indication when the next wave would be coming. As I stood staring toward the horizon I could just make out a lump on the surface of the water. It was an approaching wave, but was it the last perfect wave, the one I needed to finish the surf? I new there would be two or three waves in the set and only one of them could be the best, I had to get that one!
As the first wave approached the outer edge of the bank, I could tell it was one of the bigger waves of the day. The surface of the wave was silky smooth. The near full moon had risen over the headland to the East and the beam of yellow light it produced stretched across the ocean.
This was the wave! The excitement built fast.
So much to think about!
I must get my entry timing right as the wave had an impressive wall which informed my mind that it was going to be a very fast ride, possibly too fast for me to keep up with.
OK, it’s time to move.
Don’t muck up, take your time, and get in the best position.
I start to paddle, one, two, three deep penetrating strokes. I am now running parallel to the wave. I am a bit deep and need to head toward the shoulder, maybe just five or six metres to find the perfect entry point, if I am going to make this.
"Hang on!" My little voice says inside my head, "you are getting ahead of yourself, you have turned too much shoreward!" I instantly stop paddling, very quickly throw in a half back paddle on my right side to pull the nose back out toward the horizon slightly and pause.
My knees are slightly bent. My paddle ready to explode. My mind is in the place that we humans call the zone.
At this point my head is flooded with thought.
Is my timing right? Am I in the right spot? What am I going to do on this wave? Look at this thing it is absolute perfection! I can’t muck this up! This wave could make or break my surf! So much pressure. So much focus. At this point the magnificent yellow beams streaming off the near full moon are reaching out across the water in my direction.
It’s now time. I am in perfect position. Time to move. The brilliant beams of the near full moon engulf my whole body. I start to take long deep strong strokes with the paddle. One, two, three, the board is turning in the direction I need with precision.
Here it is, it is right on me. I feel the wave pick me up and with one more powerful stroke, I am launched effortlessly along the face of the wave. Steep and fast and perfectly clean.
One pump, two pumps and I set my line mid face. As the wave speeds through the outside section, the wave gathers more and more pace. I’m just managing to keep ahead of the white water which is racing along the face behind me. Then I feel it, the gentle slap of the peeling lip tapping on my left shoulder. WOW this one’s even throwing out a little! I am in perfect position. I feel the lip smacking me harder and harder on the shoulder as the wave speeds up. It’s time to move or it will finish me. I drop to the bottom of the face and give one hard deep pump and then move back into the same position on the face as before and set my line. There it is again! the gentle tap of the lip on my left shoulder.
The two of us, me, and the wave, are working together in perfect harmony. The wave is giving me everything I need, and I am doing exactly as the wave commands.
For a second, I allow my concentration to relax a little as the wave face slows slightly. This is the end of the first section. For a couple of seconds, I stand a touch more upright and stare at the superb clean wave face that lay ahead. I am totally lost in a trance. Now it’s time to power into the long sweeping cutback which will link me to the sucky inside section. To my amazement, half way through the cutback, I notice the face of the wave is not slowing as much as the previous waves had, and the inside section is starting to take shape quite early. This wave really has hit the bank at the perfect angle! I pull my cutback in a bit short and stare with anticipation down the line. I envision where I need to be to launch myself down this beautiful creation, in perfect position, as to make it through the complete inside section. You need the tide, the swell angle, and of course your performance and timing, to be right on the money to get this inside section just right.
OK its game on!
I’m in position. One deep hard penetrating stroke and I’m rocketing down the line. My speed is rapidly increasing, and the wave is sucking hard off the bank.
I’m right on the edge the whole way. Two of my four fins just gripping into the beyond vertical wave face. There is just enough inside rail grabbing the wave, holding me in position, but not enough to dig and throw me over the falls.
The wave gives me a slight opening and I drive the board off the top into a very tight tucked in snap, and then its tuck in tight, and lock in back down the line.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can sense a couple of young guys standing on the shallow bank watching me as I race past, with just enough space as not to hit them. I don’t have time to think about collisions, I am totally locked in both mentally and physically.
Now it’s very fast! For the first time on this magical ride I think this is it, it’s over, the wave has got me! Then the last little bowl opens. I race through it with knees bent and super speed. I am shot out into the deep channel. The wave is done. It has served its purpose. What a beautiful thing!
My body is drenched with a saturating rush of dopamine. My mind is tingling. The extreme concentration and steely stare gradually dissipates, and a huge smile swallows my face. The young lads that were on the sand bank are hooting with appreciation for the wave they have just witnessed. My son is standing on his board in the channel, I look at him and say, "let’s get out of here."
I had just travelled the magical path that weaves between a collection of factors, all working in perfect balance at that pinch of time. When everything lines up like it did that night, your life reaches a new height, a new level of meaning, a kind of enlightened experience, when you as a human being are in perfect flow with the universe. The perfect high.
Like a junkie who has been hunting all day and finally gets the perfect hit, everything is complete. I am fixed. We drive home salty spent and content. What an experience to enjoy with your son.
Now, there is one more part to this tale that could possibly be the best bit.
I know that sounds hard to believe but here it is.
That night after we finished our dinner, I am sitting on my comfy Ikea lounge chair by the fire with my feet on the coffee table enjoying a cup of tea. I glance across and my son is sound asleep on the couch. His long blonde hair is still damp and all stringy, his blood shot eyes have finally been covered by his heavy eye lids. As I look at him I wonder what he is dreaming about. What a lucky kid. How lucky am I to have him, and how lucky are we to be experiencing this amazing life together?