Sunday, January 16, 2011

Barrels Before Breakfast

Mick Jardine setting up on a solid one.

Ben Spicer, count down to lift-off.

Paddling back to the cove.

Exit strategy.

Ben Spicer and Mick Jardine. Walking and waterfalls.

The first number that I saw when I focussed on my alarm clock was a five. Eurghh. It's meant to be my day off and I'm waking up at work o-clock. At least my housemate Benny was dealing with the same issues in the bedroom next-door.

Dawn patrols are one thing on surf trips or in the summer months, but it's a completely different story when it's the depths of winter. Dark. Cold. Raining. The wind rattling the windows.

When we pulled up next to Mick's car it was still absolutely pitch black with no signs of the horizon turning grey for a while, but we talked each other into it and suited up in the howling wind for the slippery and sketchy walk across the fields and down the cliff. The recent heavy rainfall meant that the waterfall above the cove was in full flow, but at least the wind was offshore in this little nook - when it's onshore the waterfall gets blown backwards back up the cliff like an optical illusion.
With small neap tides and not a very "low" low water we didn't have long, but we were probably the only people to get good waves on yesterdays combination of swell, wind and tide. This cove is renowned for thumping powerful wedges with a high and tight barrel; a wave that wraps back in on itself and can either reward or punish. My housemate Benny has probably surfed here more than anybody else the past few years He has the joint dialled and yet for all the time and effort he's put in, she's a fickle mistress and one horrendous wipeout here a few years ago put him out of the water for six months with some serious physio required on his back.

We could barely see the feathering lips of the waves as we paddled out but it slowly started to get lighter and our eyes adjusted to the grey. A few good waves went down over the next hour and a half: Some decent barrels including a full stand-tall from Mick, and I saw the boys throw up plenty of spray. Benny and I had a bit of an "intimate" moment when he got pitched head first over the falls on a solid set wave which then beat me down as I tried to duck-dive it. I got rag-dolled underwater for ages then my leg hit something soft; then something hard. Benny and one of our surfboards. We surfaced in a tangle of limbs, leashes and surfboards about five metres from the base of the cliff with the rest of the set bearing down on us and had to paddle pretty hard to get out of the corner. Par for the course here.

As the tide filled in and the good set waves started to become fewer and farther between I paddled back across to the cove, got out and retrieved my camera bag then slid down a spur of cliff to try and get a good angle. It was still pretty dark with a heavy sky so awful conditions to be shooting at the upper limit of my telephoto lens and when I developed the film yesterday afternoon most of the shots were just blurs of grey and white where my shutter speed had been too slow for the speed of the waves. But a few came out ok, enough to post above.

I don't really care though.
We got barrelled before breakfast and that's all that really matters.

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