Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Surf Diaries
# 4 Hang Time
I'm on the way back from an interview and product shoot - something I'm doing for Brainstorm magazine - when I cruise past the beach. These days everywhere I go I've got my board on my roof. I've managed to wrap before peak hour traffic and as I mosey along the road I see a wave curl and curl and curl - and I'm sold.
While I'm getting the board off my car a cute blonde coming from the beach walks by and gives moi - a surfer - a smile.
On the beach it's not very warm. It's a grey day, the sea is grey tones of green and the sky looks like it's borrowing a palette from Eyjafjallajokull.
The beach has two schoolgirls dressed in black and white sitting in the sand discussing bunking exams and which boys to bonk. A few homeless dudes are smoking dagga near the toilets, trying to decide whether my flipslops have a retail value on the streets equal to another zol or more. Out there are a few more container ships than usual - probably because the harbour behind me has been locked down.
I suit up and head out. Today there are no dumpers de lux, the sea is full of dark changing patterns but otherwise quite calm - even the seagulls are beyond the breakers, a bunch of over sized ducks kicking it on the world's largest pond. One stretches his neck: "That wannabe Gautenger is back. Yawn."
"I'm from the Free State asshole!"
"Same difference. Any one of yoose do a fly-by, shit on the boer; he even makes one legged surfers look bad."
This stings. My name's not Jean-Paul Veaudry but give me a break. On second thoughts, the gull has a point.
I'm trying to do my thing. The waves are hanging nicely. Not exactly right, but hang time isn't bad - like I say, big but not dumpers de lux - which means my hang time isn't too bad. I'm probably extending my stand time to just short of 2 seconds. I don't have a problem getting up. Problem is once I am standing, what then - WTF? What am I supposed to do? The wave velocity is crap which means despite getting up I'm going nowhere slowly. I seem to get up but shoot in front of the wave, slow down and fall. How do I get up, stay on track and then do the simplest thing - just fucking surf?
I'm also starting to realise that you have to go from being up and your feet pointing forwards - towards the beach - to having your toes and feet pointed towards the wave. You don't just stand around, you have manoeuvre, use your feet, swing back, to regain momentum.
Another iota of insight that's making its way into my cerebellum [at the speed of a snail in a spacesuit on the moon crawling up a crater that's been smeared with sexwax] is that the best moment to catch a wave and stand up is at that moment when your acceleration hits maximum. As the lip propels you downward. As you get lifted up to maximum height and start sliding forward. Ever tried throwing a surfboard in a swimming pool and just standing on it. Tricky eh. That's what I'm doing. Standing on a board and expecting the world to do a little dance around me. So you think you can stand. Headline news pal: IT'S. NOT. FUCKING. SURFING.
So if you want to call yourself a surfer, get your ass on the board, one leg will do but preferably two, and do something, anything, in the water besides just standing there. You're not Mandela and you're not in Sandton Square. Does that compute? Now do you can do that big shot? Because otherwise you're just writing about what an idiot you are and we can laugh and go home. What's it going to be? More time wasting, or some guts next time, some glory? What's it going to be?
Go to # 1 here.