Friday, February 18, 2011


       Painting by Karen Lang
        Story By Olaf Mitchell  

The parking lot isn’t empty but there are a lot of vacant spaces.
Walking through the kiavi trees out to the beach I get my first view of the ocean.
I’m wide eyed and I have a lump in my throat as I stare into the winter swell.
With my binoculars I watch one wave after another close out completely .
The waves are so big that I question my sanity for even thinking about paddling out!
I am preoccupied and I don’t realize that my friend Dave has arrived at the scene.
Dave looks at the conditions and says, “ Olaf, this is dangerous!"
I reply, " It could be Dave, but lets paddle out, we don't have to drop in on any of them!"
Having surfed this spot many times we are fully aware of how the hydraulics work over this section of reef.
The size and direction of this swell has changed the character of everything.
The main peak is much further out than normal and there is a breaking wave in the channel.
There are also occasional sneaker peaks popping up in odd places.
I manage to catch few smaller waves on the inside left and started to calm down a bit. In fact I was having fun.
On the horizon I see this "macker" rolling in and Dave and I both start paddling for our lives, were paddling up a dead vertical wall of water! Our timing was good and we both made it over that one.
I say to dave,"That really got my adrenaline pumping!"
Dave says, "Humm! Olaf, that one was big!"
I reply, "Yeah Dave it was, but take a look at this one!"
The next wave of the set comes out of nowhere.
It totally creams us!
All that I have time to do is take a deep breath, relax, and hang on to my board.
After tumbling in the torrent for a while I surface and I think, WOW! that one wasn’t so bad.
I look to make sure if my board is still in one piece. I find it’s still in tact.
Thanks to the long intervals between the larger sets the paddle back out side is casual.
Back in the line up, I notice each surfers face is sporting a serious expression and there is relatively no idle conversation. There isn’t a defined line up, the waves are erratic and the current is so strong that it’s hard to hold any kind of position.
It's every man for him self.
If some fool wants to role the dice and drop in on one of these waves, every one wishes him well and gets out of the way!
While I’m patiently sitting out side what appears to be a perfect peak comes my way.
I turn and paddle for it.
My timing is late and I am sucked over the falls.
I take a long freefall followed by a violent thrashing!
Next, I get to walk on the reef for a while, and my only thought is that, I need air!
Pulling hand over hand on my leash takes me to the surface. I’m careful not to pull too hard. Once in the past, I actually pulled my board right into my face. That proved to be way more dangerous than the wave.
I’m shaken from the violent pounding of the last wave but paddle back out. I sit the outside the breaking waves for a good long while.
After the last thrashing, I’m not eager to put my life back on the line right away.
.It’s some time before I able to relax.
Eventually my thoughts turn to idle daydreaming. Thoughts like what I want to be when I grow up or that bonehead thing that I wish I hadn’t said last night replace the tension and terror of my last wipeout.
It’s a lot of work to hold my position where I think the wave will peak.
Some of the other surfers are sitting inside and left. They’re trying to surf in the safety zone created by the left shoulder section. This strategy often works but today the left channel is closing out.
A very steep board-breaking wave takes its place and is catching the unsuspecting surfers off guard.
Then low and behold the most perfect wave manifests right before my eyes. I really don’t have to try to catch it. It is just that perfect.
Two strokes are all that it takes and I’m on it! I’m dropping down the face of this magnificent wonder of nature. It is a perfectly pealing left hand wave with a steep shoulder that goes on forever! It feels like some three star intermediate groomed run at Vail.
With total commitment I set my rail and initiate the bottom turn. I then climb back to the lip and cut back to the peak. With the peak crumbling just inches behind my fin, I smack the lip and then repeat the aforementioned, seemingly interminable drop, rails digging and fins threatening to break loose but still holding their track I glide into the channel!
I hear “hoots” from the other surfers! I know that I have just dropped in on one of the best waves of the day.
I spend another hour getting clobbered without getting another wave.
It ‘s a long paddle in but I have had enough of this brand of fun for one day!

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