Friday, 4 November 2011

Dues paid... in full

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.

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