How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 18

The Power of Backed-off Whitewater

When it comes to whitewaters, Sunset Beach is a funny place.

Not "ha ha" kind of funny. More of a "holy shit" kind of funny.

Some of what goes on at Sunset Beach involves floppy, backed-off stuff that to all appearances is some of the weakest mush you'll ever encounter in your life.

And yet that floppy backed-off stuff will kick your ass in ways your ass has never been kicked before.

If a backed-off whitewater at Sunset Beach so much as touches you, it will generally knock you off your board, and it will generally do so more or less instantly.

BANG, and you're gone in the twinkling of an eye.

A backed-off whitewater at Sunset contains hidden power within itself that must be experienced to be believed.

So of course these words are completely useless, and I guess all I'm doing here is fixing things so that later on, nobody can come staggering up to me, half-dead, out of breath, and whine, "Why didn't somebody tell me?

Consider yourself, hereby and forevermore, "told."

As an illustration, give a little attention, if you will, to the curious fact that hardly anybody ever does floaters at Sunset (and no, we're not talking about Sunset Point or any of the other stuff inside of that), even on small days, and even when they do, even when it's the best of the best that's doing them, the completion percentage is low.

Why might this be so?

It's those fucking whitewaters, of course.

Come down off the top, reach the bottom, attempt to reset some damn kind of line..... and BOOM!


And of course this is only done on the weaker elements of the inside section. The stronger elements of the inside section are left strictly alone when it comes to doing floaters.

And yet it still manages to kick everybody's ass, anyway.

Even the little weency hardly-overhead ones.

Just one more card in the well-stocked deck of ways that Sunset Beach can get you I suppose.

A Standard Day at Sunset Beach
Small mush. What could possibly go wrong?

Why Contests Have Caused Sunset Beach To Te Perceived As Quite A Bit Less Than What It Actually Is

I'm sure the people who surf the place on a regular basis are quite pleased about this little turn of events, but really, you have to wonder about it sometimes. The Carnival has packed up all their tents and flags and trumpets and clowns and departed for greener pastures on down the road a bit.

What, exactly, is going on here?

Of course, one must keep uppermost in mind that once the odious word "contest" has entered into the discussion, all manner of corporate wire-pulling, herd-instinct group stupidity, dark-triad psychology, marketing evil, and god knows what else, all gets tossed into the stew-pot and does its dead-level best to render things either completely opaque, or tries to paint a nice, clear, easy-to-read, picture which is completely false from top to bottom.


Let us press on anyway, shall we?

In a nutshell, Sunset Beach does not submit to schedule pressure, and it neither submits nor obeys on two levels.

Level 1 is obvious, and consists in the fact that hard calendar blocks, picked literal years in advance, have little to no bearing on what the ocean may or may not see fit to deliver within the confines of that calendar block. Swell size, angle, period, and purity, as well as the local wind field, loom large in the affairs of all surfspots, and Sunset Beach is no exception. Hard-angle norths are not particularly common. The inside section dearly loves hard-angle norths, and this becomes an issue when looking at Level 2.

Level 2 revolves around the business of what may, or may not, be expected to arrive in the lineup during the course of the half-hour or so that the hapless victims of a surf contest are restricted to, for any given surf session. Sunset is vast, and it is vast in scope of time as well as distance, and a half hour just ain't gonna cut it when it comes to picking up multiple bombs on the outside peak. Contestants know this, and are therefore forced, for the most part, into sitting in the middle somewhere, dodging wash-throughs, trying to grab enough waves in their allotted time to do things like "build a house," "get a good backup score," "ditch that three-point ride," and lots of other contortions that have more to do with pencils and paper than they have to do with world-class surfing.

There are times when I sort of wish that the powers that be would create some sort of demarcation line, outside of which the regular crew could sit patiently and grab the bombs, even as the jerseyed scrabbling went on, farther inside. The contestants are never going to go for sitting patiently way the hell outside for a period of time that exceeds the length of their heat, which means anything that came in out there would be fair game for the regulars, who would not be interfering in the slightest with things as they came screaming down from out of the sky with the jerseys all scattering for safety before them and beneath them. Not only that, the cameras might even manage to pick up a ride or two that would perhaps give the wider world a somewhat better glimpse into the real workings of the place.

But it would tend to make the paid performers look bad in comparison, and it's never going to happen, and I'm sure that in the end, it's better that way, all things considered.

The net result of all the foregoing is that those who can only participate vicariously, via webcast or whatever advertising platform is being used to also, occasionally, provide a proper look at what's actually going on out there, are forced into seeing a bunch of distant brightly-colored jerseys bobbing around, grabbing at suboptimal dead-zone backoffs, futilely attempting to get something, anything out of a relentlessly uncooperative inside section, and dodging occasional cycloptic whitewaters that come steaming in from the side of the picture, destroying all that lies before them. And they think they are seeing "Sunset Beach."

They are not.

What they are seeing is something else altogether.

Which, as I've already mentioned, in the grander scheme, is not such a bad thing at all.

There is nothing enticing about any of it, it looks hopelessly disorganized, inconsistent, untrustworthy, and occasionally quite dangerous.

And so, contest days excepted, everybody winds up going somewhere else, and the crew that works Sunset on a regular basis every winter laughs up their sleeves, and life goes on, uninterrupted, uncorrupted.

Seems fair enough to me.