Friday, December 28, 2007

Yesterday Afternoon

Yesterday was pretty evil. The first real overcast day that didn't dissipate instantly via tropical storm. Instead the gray clouds sucked the vivid aquamarine from the waves and they took on a troubling-steely look as they grew to magnificent shape, one after the other, slapping down surfers throughout the day. Too beat up from the morning adventures for an afternoon pummeling, Nic and I took a driftwood seat and watched the show.

We noticed a few things:
1. there are some really, really great surfers who have that magical ability to tame the worst of the giant waves with finesse that's just mind-blowing.
2. much to our surprise, there are some not so great surfers here too. We've been so amazed by the great ones, we've been overlooking the now obvious fact that maybe we weren't the worst surfers out there.

We decided to focus on #2 for the afternoon. We picked a couple characters, dubbed them with nicknames and then watched...

Mareka - our new Hawaiian surfgirl friend -- she paddled out, duck dived with decent skill, once outside [we held our breath in anticipation of a great ride] she sat there. Perfectly balanced on the board, facing west, long hair draped over her shoulder, waiting and waiting as the afternoon sets rolled in. She caught a couple rides. One was an obvious, embarrassing dropin on this other dude. So she bailed. The second was nearly a repeat (with the same dude!)

New Girl - while huge sets come smashing on top of her, she stood about shoulder high in water, her board drifting, upside down with the fins up, as she'd alternate between walking and dragging the board and a half swim and drag. We watched her labored attempts to get more than 10 feet off the shore against the rip and waves. We strike up a conversation with an oldtime surfer from New Jersey -- he tells us more people drown in Hermosa than you'd believe. She shouldn't even be out there. We talk while one rescue alert.

Newbie - by far the favorite. On such a burly, big day, this guy haphazardly paddles out on a 8 foot rental. With each whitewater rush, his board goes flying up, but he pushes on and in a strange lull -- he makes it outside. Newbie is completely and dangerously oblivious. We're cringing on our log as he lays flat on his board, sometimes facing the shore and giving the thumbs up to his friends, sometimes facing sideways and falling off the board...meanwhile overhead, double-overhead sets roll by. The heartless rip seems to feel sorry for this guy, it pulls his careless barge down the coast, across the backs of giant waves where better surfers are pummeled for trying, never quite letting him inside enough to get smashed....until he heads in from the floatilla, and, in ankle deep water, a 5 foot tumbler sneaks up behind him and pummels him in the sand.

Boyfriend and Girlfriend - gave us hope. They paddled out together and we kept score for them. Rides vs. Failed attempts. Neither were epic riders, they missed about half they tried for. But they were a reasonable step up from where Nic and I were at. Compared to the few supermen/superwomen in the lineup catching 80% of the waves like it's nothing - these two had an attainable track record.

At the end of the day, we gave ourselves credit for trying, and slowly but surely making some bit of progress here and there, all under challenging conditions....and smiled, like catty junior high girls, with the realization that there really are some people out, at Hermosa, who are absolutely worse than us.

No comments: