Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Surf Diaries

Disclaimer: expletives may be littered throughout the text below.

# 11 Shark

Every night I fall asleep to the sound of the sea; each morning I wake up to the Big Blue. So the temptation to surf is always there, and difficult to resist. Today when I walk across the road the wind tugs hard at my board, pushing me over my own feet. As I am stepping onto the beach at Pipe I see a fin knifing through the water. Obviously my first thought is to make a u-turn and go home and watch Knight Rider.  I stand and watch and wait for other fins - it's probably a bunch of dolphins, like I saw just a few days earlier.  I've been itching for this surf and the surfers - about a dozen of them out there - aren't perturbed, so I decide to hit the water.

There are 5 fatal shark attacks in the world each year. And guess which day shark attacks usually happen?  Sundays.  Today is a Friday.  BHEEP!  Error!  Game on.
Despite these factoids it doesn't change the fact that I continue to see a dorsal fin, about a foot in all, slicing through the water.

I have given up on the theory that it's a dolphin because you don't see solitary dolphins.  I do two things.  One stupid, the other relatively smart.  The stupid thing I do is I see a shark and go and surf anyway.  The other thing I do is something I haven't done before since I started surfing; I surf close to the big boys.

Okay, that's not exactly accurate.  The big part.  These surfers are tousle haired teenagers.  They make surfing look easier than getting out of bed.  But any shark looking for a snack is bound to think twice about lunging for my boep when plenty of  tender sirloin is on the same menu. WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP.  Okay, enough already.  I spot the dark sickle again and say to a bodyboarder beside me: "Have you seen that fin in the water?"
"No.  Where?"
"'Bout hundred metres behind me."  He looks over me.  Shakes his head.  "Dunno if it's a dolphin, just see one fin."
"We saw a bunch of dolphins the other day," he says.
"Ja I know.  I saw them too."

The sea is crawling with small dark triangles.  The offshore wind scoops up some sick surf, but it's tricky.  Because the wind is blowing hard at the waves, away from the shore, I keep overestimating the speed of the sets.  After half an hour I've barely caught two waves.  I'm not in the best spot; I'm where the surf is so unsick it's almost healthy.  Waves here look like they're turning into edges, then fizzle.  Down the strip the okes are picking up one edge after the next.

A few spectators pitch up and sit on the edge of a makeshift concrete pier.  Maybe this makes me extra stupid with a dose of moron and a small sprinkling of imbecile.  Next thing I catch a monster and slingshot my board vertically, drink a salt and soda milkshake and as I come up for air I see a large guillotine in the shape of a surfboard aiming for my head, nose first.  I hold out my arm to protect my skull, and feel the board whack against it. 

I continue with this suckage for a lot longer than is healthy.  Arms get a workout though.  I start to hope that a shark does chew me in half.  Maybe that'll improve my form.  I find a slightly better spot away from the guys and in the exact spot where I first saw the dorsal fin as I was walking down.  No shark and no improvement.  I walk back, the wind slapping the back of my head. 

WIKI: a shark attack is one of the rarest ways for humans to die. On average, there are a minuscule 5 fatal shark attacks per year worldwide. Elephants and tigers together kill 100 people every year, execution takes the lives of 2,400 people, 22,000 people die from drug overdose, traffic accidents kill an average of 1,200,000 people per year, and starvation kills 8,000,000 every single year. In 2009, more people were killed from being crushed by soda machines than were killed by shark attacks.

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