Surfing Fail

Night surfing
Originally uploaded by apes_abroad.

Today I (Sarah) hit surfing rock bottom. Or at least, I had the worst surfing day so far, and oh how I hope this is as bad as it gets. The high tide has been getting deeper and deeper and the waves have been getting bigger, faster and more powerful since we arrived. Four days ago I swapped down from a 10′ to a 7’10 board which is much easier to navigate through oncoming waves but also much harder to surf on. An interesting tradeoff in these high tides which hit me like a punch in the chest on the way out, and a tumble in a giant washing machine on the way in. I’m covered in bruises and cuts from my encounters inside said washing machine with one large plastic plank and its three sharp fins, so the smaller the plank the better.

On the same day I changed boards we started catching real waves, which for me provides an unpleasant mix of boredom and terror. These waves are not big in terms of real surfing; five or six feet at most, but I am easily frightened by this kind of stuff. Seriously. I am petrified by heights. I stopped driving because I get panic attacks behind the wheel. Riding a bike in traffic or even down a fucking hill scares the shit out of me. I am a terrified, pathetic little piece of shit who quivers at the thought of cruising along a six foot wave on a surboard. So why the fuck am I learning to surf? Beats me.

Oh right, Colin.

Colin of course is incapable of fear when it comes to such mundane things as speed or height, and he can’t imagine (or believe) that it frightens me. True, he gets annoyed and exhausted when he gets thrashed by a wave, but never scared. Today he caught a rogue wave, one of the biggest we’ve ever seen and well over his head, and he cruised right down it like it was nothing. Well, not exactly nothing, since he was too busy thinking “holy shit I’m actually riding this thing” to turn and surf along it. But it was spectacular nonetheless!

As for me, I went out with the usual butterflies in my stomach, fought my way through a nasty incoming set to get out in position, tried to catch a couple waves and missed them (too slow), then tried a third (too fast) and got tumbled. Heels over head over heels over head, surfboard behind me then above me then in front of me, bonking me on the head on the way through then pulling me underwater by my ankle. Water up my nose, down my throat, in my sinuses, then I’m plugging my nose with one hand and trying to cover my head with the other while curling into a ball. This is the usual drill, it happens several times a day to both of us because we still suck at timing waves. But for whatever reason that first tumble today just did me in. I headed back out but I couldn’t stop shaking, I couldn’t calm down and stop being scared. I paddled way out and tried to focus on just sitting on my board (I still lose balance and fall off occasionally) and watching the pelicans. But I couldn’t stop shaking and the thought of turning around and giving it another go made me cringe and moan. Since we switched to smaller boards and bigger waves I haven’t stood up on mine for more than a second, and I was starting to suspect it was fear that made me bail as soon as the going got tough on steep waves. So this was my surfing fail. I spent the next hour trying to steel myself to surf again then collapsing and crying, while Colin bravely got his ass kicked (with occasional triumphs) by wave after mean fucking wave.

Let me tell you I needed a drink after that experience, so we showered off and had dinner at El Ancla on the beach. We watched the better surfers with their shortboards surfing in the last few rays of the sun. The big afternoon waves made today particularly good surfing for locals. We’re planning to go out again tomorrow morning in the waning tide, so the waves will be getting smaller rather than larger. We’ve passed the highest tide for the month so it will gradually go back to the wimpy baby waves I feel more comfortable with. Until then, Sarah mo ganbatte ne!

Oh yeah, we’re watching anime at nights; Macross of all things.


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