The calm before the storm. Heads bobbing up and down. Nervy tension mixed with smiling faces. You lay there patiently as each crisp wave ruffles below you and you move up and down in unison like little rubber ducks. Some sit on their board as they survey the scene; others hold onto their boards tightly as their legs dangle freely beneath them. The collective expectation is palpable and a sense of the upcoming exhilaration is etched upon their waiting faces, like children on Christmas eve, as they await the thrill of Christmas morning and Santa's boundless bounty.
As you look over your right shoulder you see some serious surfers shuffle; the experienced guys and girls are getting ready for the next wave. It's game time. The wait is over. You brace yourself, then paddle with your hands on either side of the board, as fast as possible and try to match the speed of the incoming wave. Three. Two. One. Action - the familiar tug as mother nature's swell grips the fins on the back of your board and you feel the quick short snap of acceleration. The window of opportunity is small and you do that familiar little push up and pop up onto your feet.
Your pulse quickens. It's make or break time. Stand too far forward and you'll nose dive, too far back and your board will ramp up and you'll fall backwards. Many of the novices and newbies suffer one fate or the other and fall helplessly behind the wave. They dust themselves down and try again - their turn will come. You've found your feet, the power of the wave beneath you soars. You feel like a matador, as the bull beneath your feet charges onward toward the shore. You are silhouetted against an azure sky, as you carve the deep blue water, the spray of sea water kicks up on either side. You glide effortlessly thorough the water and smile that surfers smile. Little faces look on from the shore and the many fallers behind you tell themselves "that will be me next time". Your roller coaster ride eventually ends as the power generated from the wave dissipates and you disembark. Time to paddle out and do it all again.
The feeling you get when you do catch a good wave is difficult to put into words to be honest. Exhilaration, pride, freedom and joy all come to mind. For me the feelings that trump it reside on a very short list. Even outside of the buzz of surfing a wave, just being in the seawater is great for the body and mind. I have never come out of the sea and felt worse than before I went in, with or without my surfboard. It is like some sort of tonic for my weary bones and it certainly works wonders for the mind as well. I love to lay back with my ears just below the water and look up at the sky overhead.
Is that me in the water? No, no, my abs are much more chiseled than that :)
These days I don't make it to the Irish sea or Atlantic Ocean as much as I once did. Life is busier now with my wife, three young boys and a busy worklife. We did manage to make it to the West coast last weekend though and I did something I've been looking forward to for a long time. I introduced my two oldest boys (aged 4 and 7) to surfing. They both loved it! Now when I say surfing, we're talking 2 foot of water and me pushing the board with my hand. But the moment was still special, as the three of us made our way to the water in our wetsuits. I reckon it will be the first of many surf sessions with my boys over the years. I just hope they love it as much as their old man. Here are a few picture of the fun family surf day out at Lahinch, Co Clare.
Ya, Ok - I was lying about the Abs!
I am sports mad and the only thing I love more than watching sport, is playing sport. I'm hoping that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree and the lads inherit that sporting interest too. After all I picked up my own sporting interest from my own Dad over the years. Having said that though, were none of them to like sport and there interests lay elsewhere, I'm cool with that too and I'll try my best to learn about their interests and support them in whatever they do.
Until next time.