Garrett McNamara Rides 90-Foot Wave…I Poop Myself on 9-footers

No matter how many times I paddle out on a bigger day, I tell myself that if someone like McNamara and other big-wave hunters can drop in on a skyscraper-high bomb, I should have no trouble paddling into an inconsequential slightly bigger than overhead wave.

But fear prevents me from going out on double and certainly triple overhead days.

I always assumed that big wave hunters have no fear but in reading articles and interviews with them, they do have fear and that’s what keeps them alive and human.

So what’s keeping me from conquering my fear of riding waves that are one-tenth the liquid monsters that McNamara recently rode off the coast of Portugal?

For one, where I surf, we barely get head-high waves. It requires several years of training on big waves to master 20-foot beasts, much less being towed into a 90-footer. For every swell we do get that’s head-high, it seems to fade away after a few days. Overhead surf, when not occuring regularly, takes a few days to get dialed in.

I guess I can take it easy on myself and not think self-defeatist thoughts: “I’m a wuss, a failure, a kook, a pansy…”

Admittedly, I don’t enjoy surfing big waves. I’ve successfully ridden some amazing 9-10 foot face waves in the past and was amped from the adrenaline, but after studying natural health and realizing that flooding your body with adrenaline can prematurely age you, I now think twice about exhausting my supply of adrenaline and stressing my body.

Or to put it more simply, I have more fun riding 4-6 foot surf and getting really long, cruisy-carvy waves as opposed to riding the high line of a screaming overhead bomb and fearing getting crushed in the whitewater soup.

It’s not so much taking off on an overhead wave that scares me; it’s the duckdive in the impact zone.

Any surfer who has been out in overhead conditions has no doubt been held under for what seems like an eternity. If you don’t properly execute the duckdive–and on an overhead wave that pounds right on top of your head, that will often happen–you’ll end up in the spin cycle, feeling like being stuck in a washing mashine.

This is the part that scares me the most about big waves. Again, it’s not the paddling into a steep wave face and wiping out, but the eternal hold down.

Some surfers are wired to feed off adrenaline rushes. But a DivineSurfDesign surfer lives the middle path, no extreme highs or lows, just fun surf.

You have to know yourself. If you’ve ever felt insecure about your manhood or surfing ability based on the size waves that other surfers or your friends have ridden (or claim to have ridden), be honest with yourself. If you’re truly someone who thrives on conquering new heights, go for it, but if the thought of having your life end and leaving loved ones behind frightens you, then stay out of big surf.

As The Big Lebowski’s sidekick, Walter, says, “You’re out of your element.”

Leave the big wave surfing to the adrenaline junkies.

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