An excerpt from a Surfer's Journal masterpiece!
Any of y’all familiar with post-accomplishment depression? Like, you achieve a goal and just fucking hate yourself afterwards? Because now you’ve gotta figure out what to do next, and it’s gotta be better, and you don’t really know how to go about it.
So this month’s Surfer’s Journal, issue 25.1, has a piece in it by yours truly, about Dave Wassel, and you really need to rush out and drop $16 on a copy. Right now! Go do it!
Writing about Wassel is pretty much a gift. The guy is intelligent, eloquent, interesting, funny. And a total man’s man. If I didn’t prefer women our interactions would have gotten pretty uncomfortable. For him. Dude’s just amazing, total personal hero, loved by everyone. I mean, how the hell do you make it to adulthood without making any enemies?
Writing for Surfer’s Journal is a dream come true for a wanna-be surf writer like me. I know I should play it cool, no big deal, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen my words actual print, and for it to be a beautiful glossy work of art like this… my goodness. Pretty sweet.
They asked for three thousand words, I delivered seven thousand, which was then cut down to five by Alex Wilson. Kind of a kick in the nuts, but only because his edit was way better than my final draft. It’s both a blessing and a curse, getting edited hard and seeing a better result.
Here’s an excerpt from what I sent in, Mark Healey talking about a day with Wassel at an Oahu outer reef.
It was probably the craziest day I’ve ever surfed, and it was just me and him at the outer reefs. No inflation vests, no jet skis, just board shorts and surfboards. He showed up with this, like, huge 10’8 board that looked like a total piece of shit to me. But we’re out there and the waves are getting really, really big. It was crazy. I’d imagine, there’s no photos of the day, but just comparing to days I’ve been out and it’s been huge, it was all of sixty feet, and like, top to bottom freakin’ triple spit barreling, with just us out in the evening. And it was doing this underground, almost Teahupoo-esque, how it kind of drops and you can actually see the reef contour. This is way outside, like the actual reef ledge it’s breaking on is maybe forty feet deep, dropping off to about seventy. So for that amount of water to be moving and to be able to see the contour on a forty foot shelf is pretty incredible.
Dave, he turned on this wave that was like twenty five feet and absolutely scooping up and I’m losing my mind because it looked like the wave was gonna barrel over his head on the takeoff.
I remember it being a similar view to the one Andy got at Teahupoo, that amazing huge wave, where I was like, ‘Oh my god, it just broke right over him.’
The last thing I told him, I was yelling at him and the first thing that came to my mind was ‘I can’t save you!’ I had to get that off my chest, that, like, I couldn’t do anything at all. I hope he’s not doing this thinking I can help him. Because we could both die out here.
I watched this wave just unload, spit sooooo hard, go into another section, spit soooo hard, and then he pops out the back just screaming. And then gets sucked over the falls. I still can’t believe he made it that far. Clearly, the only way that he made it, he must have packed the barrel, like grabbed rail and got the fucking craziest 25 foot double spit underground barrel. And he got sucked back over, just screaming, ‘YEAH!’
Back then we chewed tobacco a lot, and that was our competition. We’d go out on those big outer reef days and see how long you could keep your dip in. And so, he got that wave and when he was punching though I could see, from like a hundred yards away, he’s all, ‘YEAH!’ and as he’s getting sucked back over the falls he pulls the dip out of his lip and holds it in the air claiming it, then puts it back in his lip and just disappears.
It was quite possibly one of the most heroic things I’ve ever seen.
Then his leash breaks, and we’re almost mile out at sea, and he’s still just screaming, ‘YEAH!YEAH!YEAH!’ and then starts swimming in. And it’s a sketchy swim.
So he just swam in and I was thinking, ‘I hope he made it to shore.’ We were so far away, it’s not like I was going inside there. I saw him later, on the beach at dark. I stayed out by myself until then, I didn’t have much of a choice.