How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 25


Anecdotes and Personal Experiences - 15



"Nice angle, huh?"


Sunset Beach is oftentimes associated with a level of rawness and unruliness that stands out in stark contrast to most people's idea of "perfection."

Mention "Sunset Beach" to most folks, and the immediate mental image is this great whacking monster of a wave, torn by gale-force trade winds, crossed up with no end of side-chop, sharply-peaked, shifting around all over the place without apparent rhyme or reason, bouncing murderously through an inside section that's larger than the outsides that most people have ever ridden, and just generally the stuff of crazed nightmares.

And to a certain limited degree, most people are correct.

But certainly not always.

And every once in a while, the place will throw you a curve that's so delicious, so completely out of character, as to cause you to wonder if you're still looking at the same surfspot.

And in certain rare occurrences, when everything aligns "just so," the out-of-character aspect can only be properly understood in terms of Velzyland, of all weird places.

Despite the fact that V-Land starts washing through from outside and goes completely to shit when it's only a few feet overhead, the two places share a truly surprising amount of similarities.

And the fact that both breaks sit right there, side-by-side, tucked into small embayments in the coastline (more or less), only adds to the interestingness of those similarities.

In many ways, Sunset Beach can be viewed as a scaled-up Velzyland.

Both places break a respectable distance from the shoreline, out across a stretch of flat water, and both places are predominantly rights, but they both can offer really good lefts, too.

Both places start out as a peak that folds over and runs, kind of hits a place where things ease off a little, and then finishes up on an inside section that is not to be dealt with in a casual manner as it rifles across some pretty shallow bottom profile.

But Velzyland is crisp perfection personified, whereas Sunset Beach is quite a bit more ragged.

V-Land is tucked way the hell down into its little bay, and the tradewinds can roar for all they're worth, and it will never get choppy or bumpy as a result.

Sunset Beach..... not so much with the protection from the wind.

V-Land also will oftentimes do an absolutely perfect double-up across its inside where the two pieces that are coming together in the double-up are not quite perfectly in line with each other, and instead the two pieces cross one another in a zippering fashion that can easily make for a chest-high wave in there that throws as wide as it is tall, or even wider sometimes, and then sort of enters a miraculous state of dynamic stasis where that wideness is maintained without so much as a quiver to the lip, as it races across the far-too-shallow bottom in there (Don't fall off in there, ok? One day maybe I'll tell you a tale of New Year's Day, 1976, where me and that bottom had a little encounter, afterwhich I was given the moniker of "Bandage Man," but not now.) with absolute mechanical precision perfection.

V-Land can even, once in a while, do a triple-up, in the exact same fashion.

Just fucking flawless!

Nothing at all like Sunset Beach, right?

Well.....

Pretty big day.

Solidly north angle to the swell, nice and pure, no secondary swell, nice long period.

And glassy. Glassy like morning glass in July, in Florida. Sheet glass. Blemish-free.

But it's booming.

And standing there on the beach, looking at it, it has taken on the exact aspect, complete in every degree, of a hallucinatorally gigantic Velzyland.

It's folding over outside and running. All the way across. One long perfect wall. No dead spot.

And the inside section has decided to become an exact duplicate of the inside section at Velzyland, too.

Complete with the ever-so-slightly off-angle double-up which is zippering across that inside reef without flaw.

Even the rip was behaving itself, and there was no bounce or wobble being thrown back into the inside section.

The thing was just peeling.

It was an apparition as if from a dream.

The place bore no resemblance to itself at all.

Sunset Beach had been transported to some kind of distant dreamscape, and the transportation had also resulted in some kind of miraculous transformation.

Can't really even put it into words.

Really nice day at Sunset Beach.

We'll just leave it at that, ok?

And of course all the regulars, all the grizzled old veterans of many a battle, all the name-brand people, everybody who mattered, were all out there.

And back in those days, a lot of the hard-core low-profile people who could be expected to show up and school all the young upstarts in the particulars of how it's done at Sunset Beach, had this very understated mien about them.

These were the guys who would go out to certain places on certain days, no jet-ski, no leg-rope, no flotation-vest, no safety net of any kind, sometimes so far out there that you could hardly see them bobbing around with just a like-minded friend or two for company and nobody else around, anywhere, grapple with death bare-handed, and then come back in and either not talk about what had just gone down at all, or perhaps describe events with an absolute minimum of words as "no big deal," in some way.

Really low-key about stuff.

So I'm paddling back out, nice and leisurely, nice and slow, and I wind up passing by a couple of those guys (for the life of me I cannot remember who either one of them were, sigh) sitting on their boards, and I'm within easy earshot of them, both with their backs turned towards me, both looking toward the far horizon, on one of the most perfect days imaginable at Sunset Fucking Beach, and as I ease on past them, the one on the right turns his head toward the other and says in this very soft, very conversational, very low-key voice, "Nice angle, huh?"

And thereby summed up one of the best days that I ever experienced the place, in three short nondescript words.

Yeah. It was a pretty nice swell angle that day.

Pretty goddamned nice angle.

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