Sometimes the runes just don’t fall for you. Surfers call it paying your dues.
South Coast Surf Championships on the Island last weekend. That’s not me in the photo; the only wave I caught in my 15-minute heat, I dropped in on one of the other surfers, which explains my third place in a heat of three.
Early that morning I’d surfed the Bay. So much water moving out there on a big swell, the waves are thick and heavy and dark. As I pulled on my wetsuit someone else came in and sat on the kerb just staring ahead. As I walked by I noticed his snapped board lying on the pavement.
You never know how serious it is until you’re in it. First duck dive, driven back about 5 metres. Second wave, bailed and tried to dive under it. Dragged back 5 metres. Just scratched over the top of the next one. Another set swings in: got to get into one of these before I get the yips. Paddle paddle paddle. It pitches me, and I come up gasping halfway down the Bay. Suddenly aware there’s no one else out. Paddle for an inside wave, scramble to my feet, bottom turn, hit a bump and I’m off. Again.
This time I’m under a while, and the surface is a long time reappearing. First it’s dark, then the water goes light; I start thinking I’m up, but there’s another 10 seconds before I break the surface. 10 seconds that feel like 30.
Catch the white water in, by which time I’m a quarter mile down from my start point and it’s next stop the rocks.
Punch my ticket. I’m going home.