spring and the joy of crowds

was in the water by 6:30 on Saturday morning. would've been there earlier had I not checked some spots for which my hopes had been too high considering the tide and receding swell. there were two kids walking down along the path to the point when I was suiting up. normally I make the paddle through the bay to warm up as it were but I chose to pick my way along the rocks instead with the high tide lapping my feet. out at the point there was some morning sickness and all around weakness. the lefts coming off the point were short but steeper and probably a little bigger since they were heading right into the headland over the shallow weed covered rocks. after an hour of grovelling and small kine turns I thought the better of it and headed in.

the lot was almost full and scores were suiting up. I said hello to a couple of friends and made my way to the blue flame to take off my wetsuit. as I looked out over the boardwalk I could see a little left reeling off some secret sandbar and crashing right on the dry cobbles. I figured I'd give it a try since it was still only 8 am and damn it looked rideable. stepping out through the impact section reminded me of Spanish House or Wabasso -with a heavy wall coming fast and impacting on the shore. after that though the paddle out was minimal. I picked off the first one and popped up and just pumped and raced down the line as the waist high take off turned into a chest high vertical wall. the quad held like it does and each little pump coaxed more speed out of her. (I should give her a name fitting of her prowess.) finally I kicked out over the closeout before I was deposited on dry cobblestones. a guy watching from the stairs say my first wave, ran back to get his board and sat right on top of me the whole time. "this is beach break" I thought as I tried to push him a little deeper each time knowing that he wouldn't make the drop. didn't hamper too much to have him there and he took a few on the head and eventually went in. after a few more the tide filled in and the left became a closeout. should've been here an hour ago.

Saturday was the warmest day since last September signaling the end of winters grip. I have now completed three years of winter surfing here in NS. my shoulders and back have gained paddle stamina. my wave sense is as good now as it was in 2001 when I lived in Kona and surfed Pine Trees each evening after work. most importantly though my confidence has improved which sometimes can make the difference on a late take off. I'm as stoked on surfing now at 33 as I was when I was 17.

each spring it's become increasingly crowded in the lineup -even on early mornings during the week. it's easily noticeable here because mostly we have points and reefs, waves which tend to have a maximum carrying capacity. I must admit that I underestimated the surfing population before I came. but there has been a core surf community here for a long long time and they especially must be feeling the pressure of the increased crowds.

I was thinking about how to feel about crowded surf since it's been a long time since I've experienced it. there's really two ways to look at it. I can allow myself to get salty and jaded about a bunch of beginners letting go of their boards in the lineup or I can transcend it, focus on the horizon and work on improving my surfing. I learned how to surf in Brevard County on the shores between Cocoa Beach and Melbourne Beach. It wasn't uncommon to be in the water with fifty plus surfers, many who could surf better than I ever will. when crowds are all you know it's not a bother. so as look forward to riding my 9'6" at the reef or my quad at the beach break I have to remind myself that the original heads should get priority and that my outlook on the situation can make my surfing life fulfilling or less than half-empty. as always I got to give thanks for this life of riding swells upon the sea.

now I'm off to work.

had to steal this one from Crooked Arm as it's perfect for today's thoughts.


pabs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pabs said...

You'd think that surfing in an environment that is as cold as your East coast location can get would help to deter the crowds...NOPE. I surf with a 5/4 wetsuit year round in NORCAL, and despite the cold water, crazy swells, and sharks...it still gets unbelievably crowded!

Anonymous said...

Cool insight Ras and you got the good idea with just focusin' on your surfing. And then that folk fest clip, holy shit rad!


Jamie Watson said...

That was very refreshing to read, I admire your attitude. Boy you sure have lived in a lot of places. What made you travel so much? Was it wanderlust relating to surf?