Who among us could ignore the siren call of empty four-footers spinning down a down a tropical point like a mirage?
Yesterday, we celebrated the eighteenth most influential artist in history, David Carson’s solo session at Cane Garden Bay on the Caribbean island of Tortola.
As the joint bunkered down to fight the spread of Covid-19, Carson flouted its six-day long twenty-four hour lockdown law to ride empty four-foot CGB on Sunday, March 29, posting the event on his Instagram page, and, eventually, losing his surfboard to the local cops.
I asked, who among us could ignore the siren call of empty four-footers spinning down a down a tropical point like a mirage, its endless beckoning enough to drive any man mad.
Carson, who is sixty-four years old and whose surfer bona fides are proved by the fact he was once invited to the prestigious Smirnoff Pro Am in Hawaii, felt as restless as a ship pulling against its mooring.
I asked him, today, about the experience.
How good was CGB in the grand scheme of things?
“Best day of the year,” said Carson. “It can get bigger, but rarely as clean. I’ve been here twenty-three winters now and I’d rate this as one of my top two go-outs. It’s one thing being the only one out, I get that every season, but it’s a whole different feeling knowing no-one’s even coming out.”
Carson said he was surprised no one else had a swing at what was always going to be a one-day swell.
“I saw it coming on the charts, right after they had announced the island’s lockdown. The night before I read online that they had just announced a five-thousand dollar fine and possible twelve-month jail sentence for ‘anyone who violates the curfew’. Ugh.”
Carson, whose own property extends, theoretically I suppose, fifteen yards into the water, knew it was firing from the moment he woke up.
“There were long lulls between sets so if you quickly had a look, you might’ve thought it was flat.”
Thing was, Carson could hear it.
He took a morning coffee, watched a few sets, then figured his strategy.
“Get one wave, then get back in before the cops come. I wanted to know I had at least ridden one wave during what truly was ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ but then I decided after the first wave, ok, maybe three and then I’ll go in. Two hours later, I was still out there.”
Figuring he’d save a little energy for the late sesh, the joint aways pulses right before dark he says, Carson came in and sat beneath the same tree he always sits under after a sesh.
“Just to relax, do some breathing exercises and reflect on what just happened. Then I saw ’em.”
“Two police officers walking up the rock on the point to where I was sitting. Oops. Well, I had kinda been expecting them all morning and I was surprised it took them over two hours to show up.”
Carson said, “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” replied the cops, who then asked Carson for his ID.
“I was still dripping wet and I told him I didn’t have it on me. Kinda without warning, he grabbed my surfboard which I was holding on my knees as I sat, they took my name and they were gone. He told me to get it at the local police statin when this is all over.”
When was the last time Carson surfed it solo like this?
“Well, living right here, the property goes right to the water, I often see the first rideable set come down the point. So it’s not that unusual. I’ve had solo sessions a half-dozen times just in the past couple months, but not like this.”
How did he feel about the episode with the cops?
“Overall, the cops were pretty decent about the whole thing,” says Carson. “I understand they were just doing their job in unprecedented circumstances. I think we both showed mutual respect, which goes a long way in disputes. We’re still in lockdown here so I haven’t heard much about what people think, though no doubt some of the other surfers were kinda jealous or pissed. I would be. There was a news conference where they talked about how many people had been arrested since the curfew started and someone asked, ‘What about that guy who went swimming?’ That’d be me.”
I ask Carson for his response to people who snitch and the narcs who say nobody should surf.
“I walked down my own property that actually extends fifteen-yards into the sea and jumped of the rocks. It’s two acres. The gate was locked and I never left my property. There wasn’t another person in site so no one was in any danger… the new two-week lockdown here specifies that you are allowed anywhere on your own property. The police couldn’t see me around the point from their offices and I suspect never would have seen me…”
“But,” says Carson, “there’s an old guy here who used to surf, who lives up the hill. The police told me he and his wife called to complain that I was surfing. As my gardener was opening the gate for the cops to leave, one cop said, ‘Look, she (the wife) is up there filming us now.”