For all sorts of reasons last weekend I missed out on a decent surf even though I was on the coast.
Family, friends, too bloody stupid not to read the wind properly. Sunday night, back in town and I check Swellnet and nearly have a coronary when I see what it had been like that morning, while I was gazing out the window and thinking it was too south west. Very grumpy for the rest of the evening so I decided to do an early and get some waves Monday morning.
Slightly bumpy but cleaning up as the morning progressed, glassy, light offshore 3-5ft Winki with some bigger set (one or two pushing 8ft) and not too crowded (for Winki). When you got one, a lot of fun.
Enter the Mick Magnet.
Now if you've ever surfed Winki, it's a very busy sort of line up. Most guys paddle out from the corner of Bells, around the Button (the old jump off spot until John Pawson was killed attempting to paddle off it in the very early 80's...another story I'll tell you later) and into the lineup. This puts anyone paddling out into the head of the line up. It is good manners to not take the first wave that comes through when you've arrived there and to pass it up for guys who had already been waiting.
No one's infallible with this, but most guys do try to be good. Of course when a really deep peak swings through it is understandable, as you'd imagine.
Once on the wave, it's a long run down the line, a good wave taking you at warp speed from Uppers, through Middles and into Lowers and the Valley (300+ metres and rare).
All the while spread through the lineup some very hot (and not) surfers are watching for an opportunity to pounce on a fall, or failure to make a section.
My session started a bit slow, a couple of short rides behind guys, a closeout, a fat one, all fun and not much bother as I could feel I was surfing ok and just needed to hook one that wasn't going to shut down and manage not to have someone in front or behind.
Sat out the back at Uppers for awhile, biding my time, let a few waves go to other guys and finally on the inside spot at and alone(ish) when a bunch of guys paddle out from Bells. Just as they arrive in the lineup a medium size set arrives. I'm paddling hard, and can see out of the corner of my eye a guy paddling up the face on the inside of me. As I'm pushing up into my take off he spins and takes off inside. One side of me is going "fuck it, he's snaked me", while another voice is saying "nice take off" and I decide to clear the section and get off.
As luck would have it I almost clear the section, pull too tight coming round it and get knocked off by the whitewater. Goose.
Not to worry and it appears the guy was too far inside anyway.
Shortly after, again out the back, waiting, waiting, a lovely one comes through, take off as it looks clear to my left, great wave, clean face and that perfect taper that spells fun, fun, fun!
Off the bottom, swing into a nice hooky top turn only to see the same guy (I think) coming 'round the whitewater.
Bugger. Out I get.
Five minutes later, out the back, paddle for another, definitely no one inside me, and I'm staring down at the same guy paddling towards me up the face in one of those "will he go left, will he go right" situations that ends up with me going straight over the top of him. I bailed (points for style.. zero) as he duck dove under me and no damage done. As I'm paddling back out I see him doing the stare and shaking head thing, which pissed me off.
I couldn't let it go as I'd intended to say sorry to him, but he clearly had the aggro's.
"What's with the shaking head, mate?"
"You're an idiot, pal. You're dropping in on everyone, you jump off in front of me (ouch) and now you nearly run me over.. you're a menace!"
Forgive me, but I saw a little red at this.
"Mate, the only dropping in I did was on you, and that was when you spun on me as I was taking off.
When I paddled out I let the guys that had been waiting get their waves before I paddled for one. You didn't have to spin on a wave I was obviously into just when you hit the lineup."
At this point it degenerated into essentially "It's the way of the world, blah blah, blah, blah...and that makes you a local I suppose", until I said " look mate, they're only waves, just calm down" and paddled away.
I sat out the back stewing for awhile, a couple of the real locals (ie live in Torquay) I know were smiling at me, and I told them what happened. One said, "That fuckwit, I nearly ran over him on my last wave myself"..
Shortly after I got a run of lovely waves that made up for the aggravation, and the guy disappeared from the lineup. I kind of hope he'd seen one of my later waves, seen I could surf (a bit) and decided to pull his head in, but that may be asking a bit much.
Which brings me to the "local" thing.
As a Melbourne surfer, I've driven (or been driven, before licence) one and a half hours for every non holiday/travel surf I've had since 1970, and I surf every week. I surf on four coasts, (West, Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, Down South) and have friends in the line up on all. There are very few places that do the "local" thing, hardcore.
What I'd wanted to say to my friend (after I'd cooled down) was that we're all locals. If anyone can be bothered to get up at six am to have a surf, they deserve a place in the lineup. Play by the rules, and be tolerant if they're broken, inadvertently, or not. We're spontaneous creatures, mistakes happen, accidents happen, shit happens.
A deep breath and a thought before reacting could make the water a happier place when something like this (me) happens again.
Oh, and this is what the waves were like.
PS: In a later post I'll tell you about sharing a wave with Miki Dora.