How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 15

Anecdotes and Personal Experiences - 8

A Little Wind on the Water

Sometimes you fall off and surface, and the board's right there (Remember, this is back in the olden days when Grandpa used to surf big waves, and there were no cords, ok?), and sometimes you fall off and surface, and the board's right there.

Which happened so fast that I almost missed what had actually happened, but not quite.

Big Ol' nine foot gun. Red. Nice boxy rails, plenty of thickness through the part where your chest lays when paddling. Nice rocker in the nose, which had downrails and a bit of vee up there. First board I'd ever owned with vee in the the nose, which struck me as exceedingly peculiar when I first laid eyes on it, but its usefulness became quite apparent soon enough. God but that was a nice board. I still miss it.

Anyway, the wind's blowing, and I came up following my mistake, and in the space of what had to be less than a full second, I shake the water out of my eyes, facing shoreward, see the board laying there upside down, nose to my left, maybe ten or fifteen feet away or so, and before I can even properly form the thought, "Cool, I don't have to swim," and also much faster than I can possibly react to physically, the goddamned wind picked the board up, and hurled it at my face at high speed, maybe eight or ten inches above the surface of the water, horizontally without flipping it or rolling it in any way, and that nose and rail fucking whooshed just over the top of my completely exposed and uncovered face and skull in the blink of an eye, and I don't think it quite touched me as it flew by in a red blur, but it may have, and whether it did or not doesn't really matter, because either way, it was close.

Landed twenty feet or so outside of me, and I swam over to it and hopped on, and that was that.

But if that fucking board had been flying so much as a hand's width lower than it was, it would have fractured my goddamned skull or smashed my face in.

Pretty near, as misses go.

Fucking wind.

Some More Wind

Yeah, Sunset Beach is a windy place, a lot of times.

No doubt about it.

And sometimes it does funny things to you after you've come to your feet.

Medium-size day, more or less.

Maybe eight or nine feet or so. Not really big or anything, but it's breaking. It's waves.

It's clean enough, even with the wind, but it's one of those mixed swells where it's peakier than usual, and it's not really focusing on the peak like it can, but instead it's kind of soft, or whatever it is that passes for "soft" at a place like Sunset Beach. Whatever the hell it was, it was allowing for entries in a more forgiving manner than usual. You could get in and get up and get going, before it just unloaded. Maybe instead of "soft" I should use the word "forgiving" instead? I dunno. That's not really the right word either. And it was kinda fat, too. Short rides. A drop, a turn, and not a whole lot more, after that.


So here we go, stroke into it, nobody around, and it's a really nice early entry, with plenty of time to get organized and consider what you might want to do next.

Into the stance, on my feet, way up at the top of things. Very top edge of the wave might have been at my waist, or perhaps my chest. All the way up on the very top of the wave, looking down.

And it's a nice forgiving setup, and there's plenty of time, and plenty of nice sloping face all out there ahead of me and below me, and so I figure I'll "do" something.

Why not?

So what I do is turn the board immediately, still way up at the top of things, without bothering to take the drop first.

I have a vague recollection of maybe wanting to get in to trim really early, go way out there right off the bat, and then maybe get in a nice solid cutback on a fattish day that wasn't really allowing for any cutbacks.

I dunno.

So ok, so pull the nose of the board around smartly to the right, not carving or anything, more like just some kind of mechanical redirect.

At which point the wind decided that I needed a little reminding of where I was, what I was doing, and what the hell are you trying to pull here, anyway?

I wasn't traveling very fast yet, and the entire left rail of the board was now presented perpendicular to all that wind roaring up the face of the wave out there in front of me and below me, and the board instantly hopped up sideways into the air, completely clear of the water by a good foot or three, with me still on top of it.

At which point, by some bizarre combination of twitches, contortions, and gyrating extremities, I somehow managed to get the lead rail down a trifle while twisting like hell to my left, and as the left rail dipped just a little bit, all aerodynamic lift was promptly extinguished, and me and the board plummeted back down onto the surface of the water, with the nose miraculously pointed directly toward the distant shoreline, and the landing was stupidly smooth, centered, even, and easy.


The wave remained fat and forgiving, and from that point, I wisely decided to take my drop like I was supposed to, and then do my turn afterwards, also like I was supposed to.

And it all worked! Perfectly, in fact.

But boy, that wind!

Never again, back in those days, did I attempt anything similarly foolish with turning too soon, way up at the top on a windy day.

One of those was plenty enough, thank you very much.