Diamonds in the Rough.
By Dan Dobbin.
Cover photo @in_sl
Hands up if you got pitted over the weekend?
Hands up if your over the fucking crowds?
This new Covid life of closed schools, flexible working conditions and job lay offs has seen a reported surge in the number of bodies at all breaks right around Australia
I stalked my most favouritest wave in the world last week as the East swell climbed upwards with the day.
Tuesday morning, up early, drive and arrive. Carpark full. Headland full. Reef ledge, packed. Slow, occasional 3 footers with a gagle of early teen surfers fantasizing they were surfing Teahupoo, hooting and hollering each others every ride.
I don’t need this in my life at 6.30am before a day at work.
The next day saw an uptick again, with 15 or so pack into a take off area slightly bigger than an average bathroom space.
I slept in the next two days.
With the weekend forecast looking about as good as it gets, to say I was pessimistic about the prospects of having to share would be understating my bleakness.
Saturday morning I made sure I got there early. Carpark filling by the minute.
4-5ft east swell, with a concurrent south swell of the same size in the water. High tide. Offshore breeze blowing for the second day straight. It should have been perfect.
But it was, funky….
The mixed swells were creating little eddy’s that would run through the line up, adding lumps and warbles to wave faces. A fairly small tide and a long period swell meant the waves were heaving onto the shelf, making the take off a game of commitment, go and see what you get.
Not perfect, but maybe perfect for bodyboarding. Paddle in hard, scoop the drop, flex and twist over the lumps, race the pit.
Accordingly, those willing to give it a crack dropped to just 7, all bodyboarders with the exception of newly minted WSL tour competitor Morgan Cilibic and his mate.
Surf Journalist Nick Carroll once wrote that bodyboarders had to start riding slabby reefs because they had been chased from beaches and pointbreaks by surfers.
In a similar vein, I once had an grizzly old local tell me that the local surf community had bequeathed bodyboarders this rock ledge to surf, like some benevolent benefactors we should show gratitude to.
The constant creep of surfers pushing into waves that were previously only inhabited by bodyboarders proves neither statements are true.
We surf the waves we do, because bodyboards make it accessible and functional to do so.
Think about some of the waves bodyboarders have pioneered over the years. Shark Island, Fronton, The Zone, The Box, the myriad of South Coast slabs. Hardly what you would call ” perfect” waves.
Then next day I away visiting my daughter for her 21st birthday, but, like the addicts that we all are, couldn’t help but find out what I was potentially missing from a friend.
The swell had dropped slightly, but conditions were apparenly all time he reported. According the numbers filling the line up of the reef ledge also swelled again.
He went elsewhere. Surfed another spot not quite right, not so perfect, but did so with just one other, and still scored enough to come away stoked and satisfied.
So that’s my plan for immediate future. Avoid the current crowds by seeking out the imperfect. The not quite right tides, the onshore afternoons, the wrong swell directions.
In reality, it’s often the challenge of attacking and overcoming the difficult that makes a wave rewarding, that makes it memorable. Taking off deep, air dropping ledges, backdooring sections.
Kelly Slater’s wave ranch was engineered to be what was thought to be the ultimate waveriding experience. When it first debuted it seemed almost magical in it’s flawlessness.
The main critisism now levelled against it: its boring. It’s too perfect. To predictable. It’s not that interesting.
As Tom Hank’s character Jimmy Dugan say’s in the movie” A League Of Their Own”:
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great”.