Surfin’ Like Fred Astaire

Even though it’s the middle of winter, today felt like a classic summer day here in Southern California. I’ve had many great sessions recently, but I feel like it’s been a while since I had such an amazing day surfing.

Offshore spray, leaving behind in its wake Lucky Charms rainbows. Totally sunny today, with no trace of clouds. Glassy conditions. Long wavelengths, perfect intervals, small crowd … it was one of those days where it seemed like I was a wave magnet. It’s a conservative estimate to say I caught 20 waves today.

Perfectly lined-up four-to-five-foot sets coming in every few minutes. I got covered up on one right. The lefts were equally fun. I rode one left for at least 100 yards. Several other rides I got held up till the very end, allowing me to carve back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and back and forth and so on.

Many other surfers have described the feeling of time standing still on a wave. I know I’m not the first one. But today, I felt it like never before. And it wasn’t even on the ride that I got covered up. Although that was an incredible wave I scored, I am more reflecting on the wave that forced me to totally relax.

It was a four-foot hollow right that I caught just next to the pitching lip. My face was tense, as I was concentrating like I was taking a trigonometry exam. I was trying to pump and generate speed. I almost lost my balance. In an instant, my inner voice told me to totally relax my face and let everything go.

Within a nanosecond of this thought transformation, I immediately turned from a spastic pro-wannabe shredder into a Fred Astaire-like wavedancer.

My girlfriend, who has only been surfing for a short while, also had an epic day. On the only wave of the day that I wiped out on, she actually caught it and rode it nearly all the way in to the shore.

On another wave, we both caught the same wave, a waist-high mellow roller. We were able to make eye contact for several seconds and share a few laughs and a smile.

Towards the end of our two-hour long session, there was only one other person surfing at our break. I heard him cuss himself out for missing a couple waves. After I caught the 100-yard left, I paddled up to him and asked him how his session was going.

The 50-something year-old man said he was having a terrible time because the waves were getting smaller and when he looked down from the top of the cliff earlier, it looked like there were great waves. He continued to complain how terrible the waves were and how short his rides were.

People have different perspective. Perhaps this sour salty-dog surfed many epic 8-foot swells and thinks that a 4-foot day is boring. But this guy’s attitude was sad.

I told him not to worry, that the tides were shifting and that soon another solid set would come rolling in.

Sure enough, less than a minute after I told him that, a three-wave head-high set lined up perfectly. I caught yet another long right, and the salty dog? Well, I guess he didn’t have too much fun because I could hear him curse again.

It’s sad to me when someone complains about wave quality. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was having a bad day. But you can tell when someone is generally a curmudgeon and has a negative attitude. To have a bad attitude and belittle the greatest creation on this planet – the ocean – that to me is just sad.

But I’m not going to let an ol’ bitter salty dog ruin my session. Today was one of the best sessions I’ve had in a long time. My laundry-list of errands I have to run is going to have to wait several more hours, if not days.

Back home I go for some grub and a siesta. Thank God I just had the perfect day….


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