TOP DOGS; Called-Out Twice in Eight Days

I’m not even saying I don’t deserve to take some grief for paddling out at a spot with a tight and critical takeoff zone on my big-ass SUP. I am saying I won’t be taking it out at this one particular spot again; already made that promise to one of the other surfers, one who didn’t say that, if he got injured because of an encounter with me and/or my big-ass board, “We’re going to have a problem.”

It’s not even like this was the only collision or near-collision yesterday. If there’s a takeoff zone of about fifteen feet, max, and five surfers angling and jostling and jockeying; well; there’s going to be some… issues.

The waves at this fickle spot break very close to big rocks, with a minimal amount of time between waves. So, imagine three guys in position, one takes off, the next guy misses the next wave, takes the next. That leaves two guys paddling out, and the takeoff is between them, or, maybe, right toward or over them paddling back out. If you wait for a turn, politely, as if there’s some sort of line in a lineup, you, might not get a wave. If you miss a wave, you’re in the impact zone. If you’re on a big-ass board and someone makes a last second decision to go, late drops… whoa! Bail and hope for the best.

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I should say five highly competitive and skilled surfers (and, yeah, I’m including myself), each of whom is capable of performing on the right wave, are just too many for the spot. Add in that the rideable waves only show up occasionally, and disappear quickly; and the competitive nature that only gets, let’s say, ‘enhanced’ by the competition, and someone’s going to get burned. And someone did. One surfer got frustrated and left; I persisted, and after the call-out by the surfer I’d have to say is the top dog in this neighborhood; and after he left, and another competitor got out; I remained until the tide shift shut it all down. It was two of us for a while; mellower vibe. Another guy, who had never surfed there before, came out; still not hostile/dangerous/hyper. Oh, maybe he thought it was an acceptable level of competitiveness.

Well; again, sorry for getting in the way. And, again, I did say I wouldn’t bring the big board out there again. [DISCLAIMER: Maybe if it’s just me.] I’ll finish glassing my stripped-down and thick 9’4,” now a thick-as-possible 8’6″ wavecatcher. That should work. Or, following the advice of another surfer out that day, “lose 50 or sixty pounds and go back to riding short boards.” Yeah, it was a hurtful comment, but I may have given him a pass when I said “I can’t do anything about getting older; I could get thinner.”

I suppose another option would be to quit.

No. Oh, I’ll be riding the SUP at the proper (determined on a case-by-case basis) spots, gliding between… Again, sorry, SBA; you do rip!

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Don’t Challenge the Locals, unless…

…I was just about to leave, anyway; after my third trip onto the rocks (boulders, really); but I figured I’d paddle a little farther up the point, just to see… what?

That was my mistake. It’s clear now; but it wasn’t at the moment the white-haired guy started yelling at me. Yes, he had been silent when I was surfing the next peak down, though he had given me the stink eye when I sort of approached the main peak, a glare in response to my nod (and a nod, unreturned… ooh, that does say something).

But this time, I had paddled past him, farther up the point, taken the ‘inside’ position. This was, at any break, and particularly at a notoriously localized Oregon break, criminal. And I was on an SUP. True, bad knees, a bad ankle, and way too much weight (confirmed by photos my sister Melissa took) tends to keep me from standing on any but the longest waves) and these barrels all ended up on those boulders.  Stay too long over the boils, or get caught inside, it’s, well, difficult; but (this guy, probably my age, was on a short board- and I never really saw him make a wave- irrelevant, I know, but…) I was on a big board, pushing to the head of the pack (three other surfers, pack-wise), the point of the spear. It was like I, the non-local, was making a statement. He had to say something.

“Why don’t you… those things… one of our guys had to be airlifted outahere…geez… why don’t you go over to…” he nodded (unfriendly kind of directional nod), toward the miles of mushy and/or closeout beachbreak to our north… “those things don’t belong…”

“Yes, they can be dangerous,” I said, and paddled north, catching one more barrelling rock-roller, careful to pull out the back over the outside boils.

I had some time to think about the little confrontation, that, obviously, the local won, on the long paddle back, (catching another couple of mushburgers in the kook/non-local/SUP-allowed area. “One of our guys.” This wasn’t me. Only a little ironically, I had a discussion earlier with a guy in the parking lot on how locals “get all butt-hurt” when someone they don’t know makes the trek or paddle over to this semi-sacred spot.

Butt-hurt.

Another surfer, over at the showers, said a sponsored shortboarder he knows had to walk past the fire on the beach, in someone’s yard, where the locals sometimes hang, got heckled; then ripped it up enough that he was ‘nearly embraced’ on his way back past the same fire. The next guy in line for the shower (and I gave way) actually was the guy who was hit by some SUP A-hole’s board, suffered a concussion, and had to be airlifted out. Was that a lot ironic, or merely a lot coincidental?

He was nice, 68 years old, thin, formerly of the Sunset Cliffs area of Ocean Beach, San Diego. “Luscombs; that’s where I cut my teeth.” “Yeah, I’ve surfed it; mostly when I lived in PB.” He knows the guy who asked me to leave. “Yeah, well; give him my best,” I said.

I immediately went back to thinking about the confrontation. “I’ve never run over anyone,” I had said to the SUP victim, not forgetting (but not mentioning) that I had once run into Archie’s board. And I told him about my worst-ever, non-self-inflicted injury, a full-body hit by a guy on a regular longboard. Still, he had to mention how SUP’ers can catch more waves, overwhelm a lineup. No, that hadn’t been me. Not that day, anyway. I did wait my turn; I did sit ‘down-wave’ from the main peak.

Melissa told me that no one owns the ocean, and I shouldn’t help carry someone else’s garbage; and, when I didn’t, she said “just get over it.” I’ve had more time to think about it. Maybe a couple of those locals might show up to a beach I frequent some time. Thinking, still thinking. I’m back home on Surf Route 101 now, another spot on my list of places surfed (next to Luscombs, maybe); but I am going down to do some work on my Dad’s house soon.

Thinking, just thinking. Oh, and now I’m wondering if the victim, who hadn’t been out at the sacred spot on this day (though he said he reached his quota- 15) was hit over in the main break. I mean, wouldn’t that kind of suggest it wasn’t the board, it was the paddle-past?

 

Washed-Over, Wiped-Slick, Popping-Up

My computer blew up. Won’t boot up. Black screen. Stuff is lost. Not everything. Most of what I’ve written, all my work stuff is on thumb drives. Other things are adrift in the cloud. My wife’s s computer sucks. She’s getting a new one. Soon. Meanwhile, you could check older stuff. Just keep; scrolling. I can’t, for example, read what I’ve just typed because her screen is filled with a bunch of… check back or read on. Meanwhile, I’m still scamming, studying forecasts, maybe, if the system that blew out our power rotates a bit farther north…