There's been a bit of swell around here lately.
The day before yesterday I made the run down to help out Maurice Cole with an interview of Nick Carroll, with a view to adding it to the webisodes I'm doing. Naturally you time these things to the waves and boy did the waves arrive.
As part of the process I had committed to filming Nick riding his six one by 18 1/4 by 2 1/4 MC. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that it was one of the biggest swells of the year, plugging in at a solid 8-10ft with the odd 12ft bomb. I stood on the Bells headland filming, and I had Luke from Nalu Productions kindly covering it too. Out there as well was Derek Hynd, finless as ever and having no problem at all holding highline drives from Rincon all the way through the Bowl.
A screaming offshore made things pretty sketchy on the takeoffs, with guys missing heaps of waves as they failed to crawl into the thick black walls, though the successful entries resulted in some hell beatings and a few great rides.
Also out there was Kye Fitzgerald, ripping I must say on the single fin Hot Buttered Bobby Owens rode in the big swell of 1981. The moment had a great synergy as the board was originally Nick's. He and Derek later had an hilarious moment of nostalgia as Derek theatrically recalled Gabe Callahan's epic ride of that year. Below Derek acts out the moment of astonishment the guys in the heat felt when they realised he had made the wave they all backed off from in horror while Gabe spun and went the drop.
An hour or so later it was my turn to give it a go, the swell still holding but carnage on the inside as guys were being swept towards Winki and the infamous Button. Two near catastrophes as I was suiting up and it was down to luck and the surf gods giving me a little window out. That at least one guy had been vomiting on the sand from the flogging he just got didn't do much for my confidence but I did get lucky and had a pretty good run out. Age and cunning (read luck) has its rewards.
Out the back and I managed a solid wave pretty quickly, a big drop and a few turns, not as long a wall as I'd have liked but still fun. I though it was a pretty good start as I was only on a six seven when most of the guys getting waves were on true guns heading into the 9 ft range. Nick was the anomaly on his six one, but was struggling too with the takeoffs. You had to be right under it and stroking down to get in.
That was the mistake I made on my next wave. Not Stroking Down. I thought I was into a big one, paused a little taking a look down the line and as I stood up it did too, big time. I started dropping but it all came unstuck. After a long time enmeshed in god knows what I hit so hard I got the flash of yellow and white light in my brain, a severe chiropractic from C1 to L256 ( I invented a few new vertebra), then did the gurgle gurgle thing for quite a while before coming up and readjusting my hat.
My mate Jamie had a big grin on his face as I paddled back out, calling it "one of the more ambitious takeoffs" he'd seen in awhile. The "cartwheeling in the tube" had him chuckling though I find little humour in it myself.
That the wind was blasted from my sails is putting it lightly, as I was looking for those little grooves in that help one on a little board, but age, weary arms and not enough talent conspired against me. I felt like I needed the Queen Mary to get into them, that and arms like Nick. The delightful gorilla managed five or six waves though even he was admitting he'd never missed so many.
Kye Fitz called it quits too, and I think in my view honours go to about to turn 60 Hellman Russ McConachy as he had two damn fine sessions on a very sensible 9 foot six that had him gliding into some biggies. The man has the heart of a lion.
As the light began to fade, I still had an interview to do so I skulked in. And I mean skulked.
Of intense interest but also of utmost secrecy, somewhere else in Victoria Ross Clark-Jones and Maurice were towing into 25-30 foot bombs. I've seen the photos but alas localism issues prohibit publication or spot identification. For the moment.
Yesterday was smaller, in the 6-8ft range with the very odd biggie. I did manage a couple of good ones finally, though this time I was on the 6-3, the wind still strong but dropping. At the end of it the one really good wave I got was enough. The full Rincon drive through, racing all the way, with the only thing missing being a grin as I was concentrating too hard. My highlight though was watching Derek as I pulled into the carpark, driving into a series of power drifts and spins on a beautiful wave, leaving no doubt in my mind his finless journey is much more than a diversion. His surfing is a unique dance.
It's still pumping today, but I have school sport to deal with.
And I need a rest.
So the shots: A few line up shots of Bells (look for the dots, those are surfers), Derek and Nick, and a shot sent to me by my mate Rod, of a place called Sherbrook River. Not a surf spot, but a spectacular place with a great cliff top vantage. It ain't small.