Tapping the Soul
Today I became one of the very few people in the world to go to the dentist's to pick up a surfboard. CP has very kindly lent me a log for a few days.
This is the eve of my surfing anniversary. It's a year ago tomorrow that I walked into Surfed Out and left with a board, some wax and a leash. And so it was with immense satisfaction that thanks to a generous dentist, a quiet afternoon and a few likely waves I enjoyed one of my most rewarding surfs ever.
I have never tried a longboard before and lets straight away sweep aside the fundamental assumption that I had: that it's gonna be easier. Since there was only one other surfer out and the waves were 0.5-2ft I decided not to use a leash. Exciting times! I put the board on my head and walked. A few yards later I tried under my arm. A few yards later again - on my head. They're not called logs for nothing. So far: harder!
Once in the water I started to the paddle out. In my mind's eye I saw Joel Tudor paddling while kneeling and gracefully popping out over little waves. I got to my knees. And fell off. (Harder than I thought.) I eyed a wave and tried to turn for it. (Harder.) Must have missed a ton of waves trying to 'three-point-turn' this long-vehicle into position. Contrary to my belief: it didn't seem easier to catch a wave on a longboard, because it's different. You can catch waves earlier once you're used to it but it still takes learning (or re-learning) the timing, balance and feel. The one thing that is easier, however, is popping up.
(Now I know exactly why it is best to learn on a Mini Mal - I had imagined it would be fine to learn on a longboard - a Mal has exactly that right balance between manageability, forgivingness and stability.)
And then I caught my first little wave and it was unbelievable. The difference was immediately clear: a log kind of joins in with the wave. I don't think I'm wrong? It seemed like a moment of clarity: a shortboard is you-and-board on the wave. A longboard feels more like you on the board-and-wave. It's a beautiful difference. As I sit here typing. Dry. Hours away, I doubt myself. But I know that at the time this felt palpably true. After that feeling of the first decent little wave I felt so good that everything felt ok. Y'know: that the world makes sense. I sat in the water fully feeling how surfing taps the soul because of the glistening, sliding, attachment with nature and ephemerality. Tap. Tap-tap...
I tried my first effort at getting to the nose. It sank - too slow - all wrong. But a nice feeling just to have the idea of heading that way.
The last wave I caught, I squatted as it flattened, got over the hump, it reformed and as I looked at the wave I knew the board was in the right position: I went towards the nose and got both feet near the tip, felt it ride for a couple of seconds before falling. Can't describe it, just, just fantastic.
A different feel, different aesthetic - a new place. Just like when I walked into the water a year ago...
Thanks CP - consider your board officially "log-napped"! (Only kidding...)