A description of my perfect dayMonday 8 September 2014
I’m up early in the morning when the light is turning from darkness into morning. I’m aiming to get into the water just as the cracks of light begin to pour into the emerging day. Preferably, I’m in a country with warm water and air, although this isn’t essential to my enjoyment. The sun is just beginning to peak over the horizon or over a far away hill or mountain.
You can smell the salt in the air that has been created by the hanging water vapor from the booming surf. The air is fresh, yet thick with the smell of the sea, sand and the reef all merged into one collective clean, yet pungent smell. The smell is intoxicating and always different where ever you are in the world. It is specific to that beach, like a signature and always acts as a reminder of a previous experience that you have had there if you are returning to the same spot.
As I get into the water my mind switches tact. My senses alter from land to sea. And I start to look closer at the rhythms’ of the sets that are rolling in. Subconsciously I have been observing this from the minute I arrived at the beach. Always observing and searching, looking for the window of opportunity between the sets as well as the rips in order to get the fastest and safest route out beyond the crashing impact zone of the waves.
The surf is up around the 6-8ft range and it is perfect. Silky waves clean offshore winds about 5mph, and big enough to really get the blood and adrenalin pumping. The waves are not life threatening, but certainly could cause injury and require all of my focus from now until I get back out of the water in three hours time. The waves are consuming my every thought, I am literally thinking about nothing else except for the next 15 minutes of fear inducing paddling, though the thundering and relentless oncoming waves.
I walk out as far as I can (nipple height) into the oncoming waves then jump on my board and quickly get into a rhythm that I can sustain for half an hour if I need to. I paddle ten strokes then duck myself and the board under the oncoming wave. Ten more and duck again. I repeat 30 times.
Ten minutes later I’m in the impact zone! I have already taken a few beatings and there is a big set coming in. I have to make a judgement call as to where the wave is going to detonate. I’m tired but my senses are firing and my adrenalin is peaking as this one looks like it is probably going to land on my head. I have a new strength and urgency. I can suddenly paddle harder and faster then I ever new I could. My whole body is dedicated to this one act as I strive to survive the enormous wave that is now rearing and doubling up as it hits the reef. My timing needs to be perfect.
Total elation, my timing is perfect by a fraction, I’m moving at speed now as I duck under the exploding wave and I feel like I get sling shot through the back as if on some invisible conveyor belt of the underside of the rotating wave. My body is feeling slightly numbed by the release as I launch out the back of the wave. I feel a further joy as I see the waves behind are not as big and I can finally sit on my board. I am now in the perfect position to take and surf the next oncoming wave. I have survived the paddle out in tact. I take a huge breath of air into my lungs and relax, I’m exhausted but in the most satisfying and empowered way. If I was surfing with friends it would only be now that I look around to see if they had fared as well as I. Until that point it was me vs. the sea. Everyone else had to have their own battles and chances with the ocean.
I sit on my board and stare out into the horizon taking in the morning sun observing my environment looking for changes since I began paddling out fifteen minutes earlier. Observing the coastline, the sky and then back out to sea and the oncoming sets. I’m a little fatigued and I’m not quite in the right place for the first one but the second one looks good.
I paddle out a little further for second. It’s a little bigger than the first, 6ft and a perfect A frame. I swivel the board round and now start to paddle as hard as I was a few minutes before, this time towards the beach. The wave begins to lift me up and it almost feels like I am going backwards then as I continue to paddle hard I begin to move with the wave. I feel the connection and I put one last massive stroke into the water, place both hands on the board and pop onto my feet. A huge surge of joy fills me up as I look down the line and see a perfect wall of water to carve up and down. I feel the wax under my feet create a primal connection between myself, the board and the wave. The board feels like an extension of my body. I pull up to the top of the wave then down to the bottom the speed is amazing and I literally feel pure joy. I notice the light from the sun reflecting beautifully on the face of the water as the wave begins to wall up and now starts to fall over itself in a perfect tube. I’m inside only for a second but the light and sound begins to change and then I am out again, off the back of the wave and into the channel. I lie on my board and cannot control the smile on my face. It would be literally impossible to stop smiling in that moment.
I paddle back to the spot where I was 35 seconds before but in a totally altered state of being. Happy, content, powerful, humbled, blessed and life enriched.
Written by James Lauder, September 2014