Thursday, January 20, 2005

OB - biggest wednesday

I probably rode the biggest wave of my life this morning... it was huge, the whole beach, the waves, everything about this morning was big. People tell me that I'm a size queen... they are right.

I was paddling out well before sunrise, and it looked a mess... there was not a single spot that really looked like a good place to paddle out. With every set, the outside would break like it was an outer reef, and everything in between was a reforming mess of waves breaking and choppy waters. Amazingly, I got out past the break much sooner than expected, and at least a couple hundred yards from where I entered the water.

A set started rolling in, and I was in perfect position, just in front of the shadow of this first incoming wave and so I turned and kicked in for my first ride and it was so fast as soon as I stood up that my body was falling faster than the board was moving underneath me and I slid down the face, and ducked under. I came up just in time to watch a much bigger wave behind it break about fifteen feet in front of me... it was huge, probably close to 20'. It's near impossible to swim down in a wetsuit because you're so bouyant, but I tried anyway and as it passed over me, I was easily pulled underwater, dragged by my board and spent some time down there, not knowing how deep I was or what to expect when I finally came back up. Once my board stopped pulling, I swim up, and got a breath of air, and just as quickly dip back underwater because I was swimming in chopped up, foamy water so I couldn't stay afloat... I got out of that mess, and grabbed my board just in time to duck under another monster breaking right on top of me. Fortunately, I was in a good spot to punch through the back of it, so it didn't drag me too deep.

At this point though my heart is racing, and I've been underwater for a while, and the only thing on my mind is to avoid drowning, knowing that I'm out there all by myself. So as soon as I'm up again, I'm paddling out farther to avoid getting worked by the next approaching set. The ocean settles down at that point, I catch my breath and watch the waves crash around me.

That was the scariest experience of the whole morning. After that, everything just seemed much more manageable. The winds were howling offshore, and each time I tried to paddle into a wave, I'm too far out and blinded by the spray. Often times I get to see down these steep faces, and most of them look about 12'.

I watch some of these rogue waves on either side of me turn into sucking pits-of-death barrels like 8' feet in diameter. Eventually, I manage to put myself into a spot in which the shadow of the wave daunts, and I get taken out by another rogue wave from the outside. As the current moves me down the beach, I'm paddling in and out, trying to get into a spot to catch a wave. Eventually, I'm thinking that I'd better ride one in as it's almost time to go to work.

Finally, the shadow is in front of me, the mountain of water is rising, and instead of heading for the shoulder, I point at the steep, dark section just about to break, and turn into it. The spray blinds me for a second, and then I'm shooting at an angle down the face... and this wave is breaking fast. I hit the bottom turn, and I look up to see this 15 foot (felt like 20) monster taking the shape, and I'm flying right through the epicenter of the energy that has culminated to create this magnificent phenomenon. Had I slowed down and tried to get into the pit of death, I probably wouldn't have made it out, so I rode through that section, and rode the rest of the wave out... and once I got off, I couldn't resist the urge to paddle back out for more, More, MORE!

Since I was already much further in, waves were just breaking everywhere, and it was absolutely thrilling, and so a 10 foot wave peaks up underneath me, and I just tear it up. After the monster, I feel like I can handle these small-kine waves with ease. I turn around to see how far I would have to paddle to get back out again, and decided it was done.

I walked humbly along the beach back towards the parking lot. A father and his son were among the only people out on this vast expanse of beach, and were eager to get my feedback. They were definitely European, probably German, and were amazed standing in my presence. The father just couldn't say "fantastic" enough, and I just couldn't resist saying "Hi Dzermans!"