Sweet. (And a new surfing goal...)
Saw the swell coming and thought it time to test myself on a shorter board. Booked a 6'4 Webber Afterburner from Tiki's test centre. 30 litres (12.5" - 20" - 14.5" x 2.5"thick) of paddling hell and duck-diving pleasure. Smaller than I thought: even less volume than Webber's "The One" shortboard, not as 'fishy' as I expected (its supposed 'fishiness' was why I chose it). My friend Steve and I paddled into the water towards the Puts end of Woolacombe.
The board just had too little volume for me. I was nervous about how small it felt and slipped on my first couple of pop-ups. Then I dropped into a juicy, clean, overhead wave and it fekkin' flew! Had the ride of my surfing life. Made sections I didn't expect to with a little pressure on the front foot. Was surprised to like my back foot's comforting little 'home' on the tailpad. The the speed, the liveliness, the noise, the lip was right by my ear as I spent the whole ride right in the pocket. It was like being chased by some kind of terrible sea-monster! At one point I saw the lip curling over in front of me and was surprised to make it past, the wave sucked up foam, I cut out and nearly blew my own ears out shouting & hooting.
I can't tell you, all surfers will know the feeling - that wave's gonna live with me for a good long while. The swell was great this weekend. Bet I was one among many who had a best-ever-wave-day.
Had another, smaller session at Combesgate on Saturday - my 'catchment area' was drastically reduced by the slower paddling and as a result was catching about a third of the amount of waves that I would on my 7ft Diplock. More volume would have been better - but I loved the feeling of it when riding. Going shorter is clearly all about trade-offs but at my age I can't afford to knacker my shoulder muscles within half an hour of paddling out.
Friday's wave was - as I think about it now - more than I ever thought I'd surf when I took up surfing, at 40, sixteen months ago. I now have a surfing goal that I originally thought so impossible that I never before even considered it: before I die I want to get barrelled. Maybe this is a fancy of a deliriously stoked surfer. Very probably, but we'll see.
On the way home I found a packet of Starburst Sours in my pocket that I'd forgotten I'd bought (while I was in a sweet shop with my daughter earlier in the day). Perfect to blast the salt off my gums! I've never enjoyed sweets more in my entire life. Had to keep pulling over on the way home to unwrap the little devils like an over-excited crack addict.