35 out of 36 weeks of surfable waves.
The surf at the Wall on Tuesday morning was a surprise.
As in, a pleasant surprise. It was easily head high and bigger
on the sets. Everywhere else was waist high at best. And this
was Day 4 of this last Nor'easter. It was thumping.
I had wanted to ride my Merrick 6' 6" for this session
and couldn't wait to paddle it out. Of course, wanting and fantasizing
about a good session on your favorite board, and actually doing
it, are two different animals.
But I was unwavering in my approach. Hell, even Ed O'Connell
was there with his 500mm capturing the action. I was
stoked when I hit the water. It was not as cold as I had anticipated.
I was in my 4/3 with hood, but really didn't need the hood.
After all, we're not in California (where those guys wear
hoods if it goes below 70 degrees.) No, this had all the
makings of a good, fun session. Something to recharge my batteries.
guess I should of guessed how the session was going to go, after
my first attempt at catching a wave. Dropping in late on a set
wave, I couldn't get into the wave fast enough, and as a result,
I was behind the 8-ball. There's nothing more frustrating than
watching a wave go, winding down the line, with you stuck in the
white water. I can't recall if I cursed out loud or not. I may
have. Usually when I do that, it's not a good sign. And then to
add insult to injury,
I got caught inside by a significant set. I think I counted 8
waves on my head. By the time the 5th of 6th wave hit
me as I was completing my duck dive, I knew that this was not
going as planned. Duck diving a shortboard through a half dozen
or more consecutive waves, in the Fall, is not conducive to a
favorable session. And it was not. I was slowly unwinding and
becoming increasingly miserable.
With each set wave, came another frustrating move and mess up.
I can't really say I was "Kooking out" due to the fact,
that the simple definition of a "Kook" is clearly a
beginner. I am hardly a beginner. But I was struggling. And the
more I struggled, the more I messed up. And if that wasn't bad
enough, I had two friends (both of who were considerably younger
than me) paddle up to me, and claim that I was an inspiration
to them. One guy, my buddy Steve a Goofy foot who has young
kids, actually told me "Hey, if Ralph can still ride a shortboard
so can I!" I laughed. "Are you kidding me? Have you
seen me get a good wave today? I'm dying out here" I yelled
over to them. He and Chris laughed thinking I was kidding.
I was not. I was having a terrible session. It was not a good
At one point, I actually felt like I was paralyzed from the waist
down. It's true. I envisioned myself dragging my lifeless body
across a dirty rug , to get to my cold bowl of porridge. And there
on a dusty coffee table, was a whining old cat crying for food.
OK, so I have an active imagination. But I was feeling just awful
And then, just when I thought I couldn't do any worse, something
nice big glassy left popped up on the outside sandbar, and I was
in perfect position. I was expecting to fully mess this wave up,
as I had on the previous waves. But, I spun and swung into the
wave as it pitched and heaved onto the shallow sandbar. Miraculously,
I got to my feet and grabbed the outside rail, as I backsided
in and under the lip. A few fleeting seconds under the lip, and
I was rejuvenated. Then I hit a solid cutback. It was so solid,
that my damn fins came out. And yet, I pulled it off, bouncing
off the upcoming critical section in the hook. And then, I jammed
another semi bottom turn, and shot back out into the face and
did anther redirecting, freaking, jamming cutback and ...lo and
behold, I hit it just right. I had completed that whole section,
and then much to my surprise, (and really to anyone else who may
have been watching), I did it again. But hold on, I'm not done
here. I did one last big kick out and waved to the boys.
Three jamming cutbacks, with fins busting loose. I felt good again.
I felt like I still had it going on with a shortboard, even though
I only had this one good ride. But it was enough. I went in. The
way I figured it, it's better to end on a good note then going
back out and risking more embarrassing moments. I ended up going
back out on my Longboard with Alex and his friend Dave
at another spot. But, I could still feel the repercussions of
that bad session.
so I'm in a slump. A shortboard slump. Like other sports, Surfers
fall into slumps. I have fallen into a slump. And I know how and
why. And I also know, that the reality of me getting out of this
slump is slim. Very slim. Why? Look there's a reason why other
athletes retire from their game. It's just the facts of life.
We get older. We get less limber. We get less quicker. In other
competitive sports, there are younger, quicker, competitors that
will eat you up. And while I am not competing against other surfers,
we all are in a way. We're competing for position and wave choice.
No one is judging our rides, but we are competing with one another
out there. It's true.
But before you think this is a "woe is me story" you
all need to know, it is not. If you look back, I said I was in
a Short Board Slump. Not a surf slump. I can still ride my Longboard.
And while this is not a put-down on Longboards, I just really
wanted to be able to surf my shortboard like I used to. I
started surfing on a Longboard. And I guess I'll end my surfing
lifestyle on one as well. It's just that, I still really have
that desire to ride a board that is shorter than my 9'0".
And not just shorter, but significantly shorter.
I love Longboarding. I do not SUP and I have no desire to. But
I am still holding onto something that I know is slowly slipping
away. Riding my short board. So what to do? Winter is coming...and
it will be harder to get limber and loose enough to ride my shortboard.
I've had enough time to think this through, and what I plan on
doing is, riding my Longboard until I can get really back into
shape, and then slowly, but surely, work my way back down to the
shorter board. And by early next summer, I plan to be pushing
it hard on my shortboard again. But if this all fails, and I really
can't ride the shorter board, well, I will face this stark reality,
and ride my Longboard only. And I will have fun.
I have NOT forgotten what surfing is all about. It's all about
for some of my weekly Global observances:
it's true. The Balloon Boy was a hoax. The Parents did
it all. They confessed. Those poor kids had to sit there and lie
to the whole world because of their parents. Or rather, the dad.
They wanted to get their own Reality TV show. I still don't
get how having your kid go up in a Helium balloon, would land
you your own Reality Show. Do any of you see how this would
work? Am I that out of touch with the rest of the world? How do
you get a Reality TV show by creating this wacky hoax, claiming
that your 6 year old kid went 6,000 feet into the air in
a freaking balloon? How does that equate with a reality show?
What would the show be about? The crazy dad sending different
kids into outer space each week? I really don't get it.
honestly, I don't get half the damm Reality shows on TV. The
Real Housewife series for instance. I know plenty of people
watch them. I just don't get it. I guess I can't get beyond the
mere fact that, these people play and act for the camera. They
all seem conscious of the camera. Is it reality if they are playing
for the camera?
I could come up with a series of Reality shows that would have
The REAL SURFER HOUSEWIVES OF NEW ENGLAND. Ahhh on second
thought, maybe not. How about the REAL SURFERS of NEW ENGLAND?
Now that might fly. Though, who really gives a rats ass about
surfers? But are you like me and just a tad curious, as to what
most surfers seem to do for work? Seems odd to me, that there
are so many people who have jobs with a flexibility schedule like
most of us seem to have. Be an interesting concept. Seeing surfers
get out of jobs, commitments, and other important events just
to go surfing. The question is, would the general audience out
there, care to watch such a show.
guess is no.
will say, that I've always wanted to do a reality type SURVIVOR
Show. Where you are stranded on a deserted Island with man-eating
animals and serpents, and are completely surrounded by armed pirates
or Insurgents. Each contestant would be armed of course, and the
stakes are obvious. There is no Million Dollar pay-off. The payoff
is, you get to go home. I'll call it SURVIVE OR DIE. I'd
be gearing this for the UFC type crowd, ex military and
law enforcement types. Think there's an audience for this? Nah...probably
not. Maybe some day.
about them Patriots?
Whoa! The shellacking they gave TENNESSEE last week in
the Snow Storm was unbelievable! 59-0? Tom Brady
hooked up with Moss for three, Welka for two, and
Falk for one. It was insane. But were you pissed like me
when the Refs turned a blind eye to the obvious Safety
in the 4th Qtr? I mean come on! That was a 2pt Damn
Safety. Should of been 61 to 0. The winless Titans
did not want to play.
Sunday they play another winless team in of all places
Great Britain. Or...England! Hey it just dawned
on me...New England is in England!
Remember my old coaching motto
If you're losing - Don't Give Up. If You're winning -Don't
This just In. President Barack Obama wins TRIPLE
CROWN of SURFING after Playing Surf Video games on TV. His
Luck to the local Seacoast High School Football team the WHS WARRIORS
this weekend. Beat Merrimack! Friday Oct. 30th!
Happy Halloween October 31st!
Happy Wedding Anniversary to Tony and Lynne
Thanks to all who came out and saw my band last Thursday.
It's always fun playing for friends.
Finally GET WELL soon and a speedy recovery to my close friend
Lenny Dunn, drummer for the Nor'easters.
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my friends...Surfing Heals All Wounds....
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.