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Beach Grit

Quiz: What was your greatest surf moment?

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Come to daddy and tell a little surf story.

One thing about surfing: to know it is not necessarily to love it.

With the possible exception of golf, there ain’t a game as able to deftly erase a man’s esteem, confidence, identity and sense of athleticism like surf.

How many times a week do you surf? Once, twice, every day?

All those sessions over all those years. The bad, the very bad, the ok, the sorta ok, the kinda good. Onshore, onshore, a little wind swell here and there.

Around it goes until…

Those moments.

I estimate that I’ve surfed 3640 times, each session around an hour long.

And isn’t it just surf to think, how many of those precious moments have I gathered, how many waves do I remember?

I’ve got a handful: surfing a wavepool at midnight under a full moon in the Canary Islands, dropping in on a pal and landing one of the five straight airs of my life, a tube in front of Little Groyne Kirra that was clocked by a former top five pro surfer who told me, on the beach, he thought I was dead.

And, another tow moment, a ten-foot day at a Sydney reef near Narrabeen.

Bigger than anything I wanna be near or, given my big-wave experience, anything I should be near.

I let go, the wave throws and all I want to do is straighten out.

It’s too big, too round, requires too much commitment.

But I don’t want to be cleaved in two by the lip either.

With legs that are quivering and a feeling of such aloneness that I might actually cry, I turn into the tube. It throws further than anything I’ve ever seen. I’m screaming and my arms are thrown instinctively above my head. I fly into the channel, pumping my fist in the air like an alt-right hooligan. My two buddies on the ski are nowhere, gone hunting peaks around the headland.

All that drama, and such a potential story, without a witness? Can you imagine the desolation?

And after all those sessions? Travel? Money spent, time squandered? That’s all I got? One shit story?

And you?

All your sessions? All your travels?

What do you remember?