The Politics of Surfing -- 10/22/00
For some reason, my buoy reading source was not accurate. What I thought was a lack of surf was actually a full-blown swell event, with the North Shore pounding in at over 12 feet. Time to head west.
Due to scheduling, I settled for a midday surf, so I ended up chasing down the crew who had left earlier. After driving up the coast, I found no surf and no crew. What the...
I decided that of all the places, Tents look the best. In the parking lot, I saw a familiar car, but wasn't quite sure. Headed out anyway.
Despite the scary shoreline layout, paddling out was cake. Soon enough, a familiar face greeted me--it was Buddy! He was looking for some open faces, but mentioned that Rich and Makani were fooling around at the shorebreak. Back with the boys!
The surf was kinda up and down. There were some decent sets, but it wasn't very consistent. The crowd rather quickly built up to ridiculous proportions, with one crew of about ten nonlocals flocking the inside lineup.
Coming out at around the same time as the big crew was this one local with paddling gloves named Ricky. He was a friend of Buddy from young-kid-time (who wasn't, on the Westside). Such a funny guy! He immediately pinged on some very interesting surfing issues.
First, Buddy jokingly told him that he thought he was part of that large crew. Ricky immediately countered saying that he almost always surfs alone and never brings out a big crew to a local lineup. Not cool, he said.
He started chiming about "boogieboards" (what I was riding at the time) and how that's what he knew it as. Someone one time tried correcting him, saying it was a bodyboard--Ricky told him where to go. No need being PC.
Ricky also talked about always being late for family functions, and hadn't even seen his already two-week old nephew. He was the surf bum of the family, and they accepted it.
He talked about the way it is at Sunset, and how everyone rides long 9'1" boards out there. Just not fair surfing with people with such a decidedly big advantage.
As for the surf, it was pretty fun with some solid overhead ones. We all caught some really long ones all the way to the reef.
Ricky was a very solid surfer, with a good backside attack on the lefts. He was definitely the alpha male in the water, commanding a bit of respect from the out-of-towners.
Buddy was doing his thing, making some big carves on the walls. Couldn't see Rich and Makani in the distance, but found out that they had a fun time of it where the waves heaved over a flat shelf.
For me, I was scoring some good ones despite being on my "boogieboard." Did a lot of carving and trimming through the crowd. Ricky and I sat the furthest out, anticipating the bigger sets.
It was inconsistent, but then a lull in the surf really knocked the session cold. It lasted so long (almost an hour) that Buddy actually paddled in without catching a wave in (the rest of the crew had already gone in).
I hung out longer with Ricky, getting more than a couple of earfuls of his philosophies. It was actually fun listening to his spin on the surfing world and life in general. Despite his outward appearance, Ricky was really in tune with life issues, and had a lot of good things to say.
When the swells finally kicked back in, he and I were on top of all the sets. I personally caught a very sweet righthander that did not allow for a break in trim--just a heavy speed run in the hook that felt sweet.
Finally, I had to bail, so I gingerly made my way out of the water on the rocky shoreline. Showered off then I said goodbye to Ricky as I drove off.
Only after I had left did I realize that the success of my session was due in part to my dialoging with Ricky, the alpha male. The politics of surfing can be a good thing.