A Moment Before The Swoop

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At the height of a projection, the speed of the original drop used to get to this point, down the line and up into the thinnest part of the wave, hanging, suspended, the right hand holding nothing more than a level, the left hand only holding balance when and where there is none without the speed itself…hold that weightlessness… hold it.  When the hand opens…

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The drawing is based on (as opposed to copied from) a photo of Keanu Asing competing at Lower Trestles during the recent Hurley WQS event. I looked through eighty photos supplied by the World Surfing League, airs and rotations and cutbacks and… at this moment, on this ride, there are choices. Were choices. I can imagine an adjustment that allows a freefall from the lip, even a tuck into the pocket. I can imagine a cutback into the whitewater.

High-Lining Down The Line, Edited, with Illustration

This is the drawing I didn’t have ready for “Down The Line.” I can’t seem to figure out how to make it larger on the page. The photo is of Black’s Beach by Matt Aden.

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You have to love the waves you don’t think you’ll make, ones on which you’d like just a little more speed out of your board. You’re trimming high on the wall, focused only on the wave ahead and below you, and it’s only getting hollower; and you know that section ahead, that last pitch before you can glide; it breaks, explodes, really, on river rocks, round, smooth; no oversized chunkers; cobblestones; and you’ve already been caught in that shallow trap, board dropping out and down as the lip hit you; you’ve already pirouetted and half-twisted and leaped toward the open ocean, and been thrashed, bounced off that reef, your board going over you in inches of water.

And you made some. Easy. Too easy; you must have been too far out in front.

Blacks photo by Matt Aden

“Again” is really all you’re thinking; “This time…” Maybe you’ll crouch, hand in the wave face, tight, ready.

This time you might make be in that perfect spot. More speed. You take off at an angle, too far over, probably, project out of a down the line bottom turn, and find that high line again. Speed; you need more. You see the ribs of the wave ahead, the already-pitching lip. More speed. You don’t tuck in; but you move your weight forward, subtly pumping, just tweaking the angle. If you weren’t holding your breath, you are now. No, you’re ready to scream, success or failure; this is where you always wanted to be; that high line between… between frightening and thrilling.

The board skitters, no way it would hold in the thin lip; it side slips down the curve, you in the curtain, trying to stay on, your back hand pushed farther behind you, focus still on the deep water ahead, and…

…and now you’re laughing, and not thinking of anything else but… “Again!”