Sunday, June 6, 2010

Surf Tax

Photos taken by Tim Delaney, punishment taken by Paul Anderson.
Everybody has to pay their dues some time or another. Whether you do so in small, regular instalments or save it up for the mother of all beatings like my friend Ando pictured above is niether here nor there. We all gotta pay.
Every single person falls off their surfboard, it's just the way it works. You come up, get a breath of salty air, get back on your board and paddle back out to do it all over again. The point is that you realise you survived, so it's ok to give it another go because taking that tumble wasn't all that bad. Well, most of the time. When you fall off the horse, the best advice out there is just to get straight back on the horse.
Wipeouts are the taxes of surfing.
The bigger the reward, the bigger the risk. Pulling into a massive barrel that you can't touch the sides of could be the best moment of your life so far, but the reason why it's so mind blowingly amazing is because most humans can't just do it every day, on every wave. There's a fairly good chance that you won't make it which is part of what makes it so incredible when you do.
But Ando's spill above is a particularly nasty one; the kind you don't forget in a hurry. I used to work for Paul and he's a solid surfer from West Australia, he had a successful competitive career as a junior and is happily comfortable in big, heavy barreling surf.
Here, he's about to get drilled by a chunk of water tripping over the reef at Lakey Peak in Sumbawa, Indonesia. The thing about Lakeys is that you have to try really hard to hit the reef there. There must be a trench in the reef just in front of the peak because it gets pretty deep. It's the only place where I've consistently had to climb my leg rope to find "up" and get to the surface after catching rail and falling off; it just pushes you deep and rolls you around for a long time. My friends Al and Cynrig climbed up each other in the race for the surface - Al got his head up, inhaled and then was pulled under by Cynrig who reached up from the blue depths and climbed his leg like a ladder.
Ando managed to hit the bottom pretty good though:
"I came up with my boardies shredded and hanging on round one ankle, pretty much nude, and looked down at myself just as all the little reef slices on me started to turn red. There were guys who'd been sat on the judging tower watching swimming out to get me..."
It would be easy having heard that cautionary tale and seeing the pictorial run up to it to just take the little wipeouts, the comedy foot slips and the almost enjoyable trips over the falls on small waves. But then you'll never find yourself stood tall in that cavern of moving ocean, and at the end of the day everybody wants a stand up barrel.
It's the whole point of surfing.

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