Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Surf Diaries


The last time I surfed, before today, was in Port Alfred.  Or maybe it was Pipe, I remember surfing just before a triathlon and having no arms in the swim the next day.
Cut to today.  I'm in Betty's Bay for a buddies wedding, and I've brought my mini-mal.  There's no excuse for not surfing, my bed is perched right over the beach, and the waves beckon all day, and at night they roar through your dreams. 

Here the water is colder, and the whole spectrum feels...bigger.  Mountains roar upward around me, and chunks of kelp float beside films of transparent, red filamented jellyfish.

My legs are moeg from running and walking, activities that have become alien of late.  The fitness of my fingers and ability to spot a comment or a URL or to write a pitch isn't tested out here.  Instead, water pitches itself repeatedly at me.

The water may be colder, but the day is warm, so I head out for the first time, naked.  Well, without a wetsuit.  The water is brisk, but the sun creates a fire in the neat of my back.

The problem, once again, is simple.  To surf you have to be strong, co-ordinated and FOST.  Not FAST.  FOST.  Fost is quicker.  You have to pop, not paaaarp.  By the time you paaaaaarp the wave, and your required momentum, has moved on and left me behind. Simple but not easy.

I feel a twinge in my back as I manage a partial stand as water rises and hollows in front of me.  A reminder that surfing isn't for fatties.  I'm encouraged that there is also such a thing as muscle memory as it applies to surfing.  There's not much there, but there's not nothing.

The next day, after photographing a nearby penguin quality, I'm at it again. This time I am ensconced in my wetsuit, although it's bright and warm outside.  A large bulbous man, similar to me, is out here too, doing a credible job. There are a few bodyboarders further down the strip.  Later a longboard joins us, doing slow motion carves that make me suddenly feel as if I'm living in a different time, in full color.

At one point I go for a ride on an enormous monster, and feel my hammy twinge, the leash break loose, and the darkness windmilling around me.  I have to fetch my board on the beach.  Later on I manage I half decent stand, and even experience a moment where I feel like I am influencing my route moving water...

When I return to my car I find the spot where I've left my plakkies.  They're gone.  But whoever took them can probably feel the gravel through the now paper-thinsoles.  As for Betty's Bay, it's probably the finest section of beach I've surfed so far.  I'll have to come back, and soon.

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