BeachGrit almost loses (another) much-loved writer day before yesterday.
It happened. I’ve done it.
Fallen into that whole finless trap, by way of an 8’4″ special I happened across.
You know my type. The thing’s ugly, thick, heavy.
A regular dreadnought with a fat ol’ ass and rails so sharp you could shave with them.
It was intended for paddle fitness and small wave fun, plus maybe a crack at some juice if I could avoid having to duckdive. But the homemade fin system was crying to be fucked with. So I took ‘em all out and went in for the spin, dedicated follower of fashion that I am.
And now I’m hooked on the thing.
It’s like learning to surf all over.
Difficult. Humbling. Levelling. Stupid, mainly.
But it’s re-teaching me a lot of fundamentals that are helping with my day to day, and when you do connect an edge and get that friction free glide, oowee. Plus I come in from a forty-five minute surf feeling like I’ve been worked over by a personal trainer.
Couple of months of this and I’ll be saying goodbye to the dad bod for good.
That’s not my story though.
Today the waves are small, playful. Our dearth of local banks continues, but the odd two-footer is still presenting on the stretch out front.
A perfect day for friction free.
I’m still terrible/dangerous at it –a lineup liability, a twirling mess – so I’ve been deliberately avoiding crowded situations. Both for the safety of others, and the avoidance of shame for myself.
I find a right down the beach with no one around.
A small rockshelf hidden under a cliff, offering a ledgey take off before rolling into the shorey. There’s no clear shoulder line though, and many of the rocks sit separate to the main shelf and are barely submerged.
Tricky. It’s barely two foot, though. I can manage.
After my last couple of surfs on a gentle beachie, the surging takeoff is messing with me. I’m having trouble connecting the rail and am spinning and falling on most of my waves, frustrated by my apparent regression. But it flashes just enough panty line at me to keep me going.
I dodge rocks, and the board.
Fuck, the stacks are comical. Learning how to fall all over again. I briefly consider ditching the leash to avoid an awkward collision but I’m a lazy creature and my fall rate would require a lot of swimming.
I continue for a good forty-five mins. More spills, a few spins, one or two fleeting moments of pure bliss.
As I’m thinking of heading in, another set shows on the outside bank. I go deep on the ledge, maybe a little too deep, but this one is sitting up real nice.
If I can connect on it, even for a bit, I’ll happily call it a day.
I position myself for it, turn to the beach to start paddling, and then…
I don’t know.
All I remember is coming to under water, a splitting pain in my head and horrible ringing in my ears. Whether I hit my board or a rock, I couldn’t tell you.
But, I’m a few feet down and everything is dark blue, black.
Immediately, I realise I need to get up, up.
I don’t know how long I’ve been under and whether or not another wave is coming. I’m struggling to move, like one of those messed up dreams where you’re trying to run as fast as you can but your body is stuck in some horrible, invisible sludge.
I will myself to paddle, paddle.
Finally some receptors fire up and I’m able to break through. I find I’m mercifully close to shore. I get to the beach, though to be honest right now I still can’t remember how.
My feet and hands are tingling and everything seems slanted as I rip off my leash.
What the fuck just happened?
I look up the beach, down the beach. There’s no one within a couple of hundred metres of me, on the sand or in the water. Immediately the ringing in my ear intensifies and everything, the midday sky, the sand dunes, the cliff face with its running, tangled coal seams is all washed out in a strange blue haze.
I collapse on the beach, running my fingers over my head to check for any gashes.
I find blood, but not much. Just a long scratch across my jaw.
Is this where I copped it?
Or did I graze myself on a rock after already being knocked out?
I don’t know. I don’t know.
I look back up again to the closest peak and the dozen or so people on the shore nearby it. If I was under an extra twenty, ten, five seconds, nobody would have realised until it was too late.
If at all.
It’s a week before my thirty-sixth birthday, a week before my daughter’s second birthday, and I almost just went out like a sucker on a two-foot day being a stupid groupie dork and thinking I was invincible.
Fucken surfing, eh.
So uh, yeah.
Moral of the story?
If you want to try finless, maybe get a softboard first. Or maybe just don’t do it at all, if you’re a kook like me.
I don’t know.
Fucking surfing, eh?