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oscar’s timing, revisited

Oscar doesn’t hurry

Like here at Rockpools, Oscar in no particular hurry at all. The pic is by his older brother Bruce. Fine fellow Bruce, does handstands and switches feet, talks underwater. Oscar is Ian Usher.

This particular tale is about an afternoon about twenty years ago, a hot nor’wester day with unending lines of swell from the east.

Mona Vale, the point that never works.

Until today.


Oscar arrives at the beach and parks in his usual spot under the fifth pine. He leaves his car and unties a board, a yellow Outer Island, and he glances out to sea as another set unloads a few tons of fury onto the point. There isn’t anybody out there today.


He’s an economic bloke with his movements is Oscar; board placed on the grass, full wax up and comb from nose to tail, then back to the car for a rash vest, shut the doors, close the boot, hide the keys, drape and fold the towel over one of the wooden seats by the fence – the third seat – then a little stretch routine.

A word or two for old Bert as he passes by. Bert would  have liked to linger but he recognises that light in Oscars’ eyes. Fifty years in the SLSC Bert, he knows the routine.

Meanwhile another set monsters through the point. Boom, boom, BOOM!

Oscar hardly looks up, we chat as he moves through his routines, lovely fellow – probable master of all the five houses of Zen. Modest, calm.

The water is rushing deep and fast over the low and exposed rocks around the tide-pool and there appears to be no break in the heavy succession of waves beating towards the shore. The ocean heaves.

Oscar leaves the car and trots a leisured way down to the beach and along to the pool walkway where he climbs the low wall and works his way around to the step-off point – fifty feet way the sea hisses and pours around the two boulders that mark his way out to the open water. The slippery rock platform he must negotiate to get to the water’s edge is treacherous, hidden under the waist deep surges are deep holes and the sharp edges of shellfish.

Oscar doesn’t hesitate, Oscar never hesitates – he leaves the pool wall and wades through the sweeping boil to the small platform that is the jump-off spot. The instant he arrives there is a break in the turmoil and he jumps.

The sea quietens and Oscar paddles out through the boulders and he arrives in the deep water with dry hair, the set of the day arrives and he picks off number four, the biggest, and Oscar rides the brute all the way down to the Darley Street walkway.

Later that night and under the benign influence of half a bottle of Myers jamaican Punch I realise that from the moment Oscar pulled up under the pines to the moment he swiveled his board around to pick up number four he had not paused. The whole series of moves had been done without hesitation.

Surfing is timing.

Just an observation.

Previously published in kurungabaa – June 10 – Header pic by Bruce usher

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. When you get it right – you get it right… even though Oscar was going left 😉 Nice read…

    September 29, 2011
    • You know what it’s like when it takes twenty minutes of thrashing to get out and the bloody Oscars make it in one minute with dry hair – and then they paddle around so everybody can see that their hair is still parted, those bastards!

      September 29, 2011
  2. Ina #

    Okay on the island where I live, the waves are too small to do this surfing, we only have a few windsurfers that’s it, so I will never understand the importance or fun or meaning of surfing, but you write very well. 🙂 That Oscar is probably Adonis on holiday. Or god himself.

    September 30, 2011
  3. No he’s just my brother.

    September 30, 2011
  4. Oscar ripped, everyone knew that, he went, we watched.

    July 4, 2014
  5. Pellinore #

    This is close as to ballet surfing as you can get.

    July 4, 2014
  6. Yes PB

    July 16, 2014
  7. Dave #

    Its a Small world PB
    I Just finished the “middle aged mans” nepal trek through tea houses to Poon Hill
    Strike a conversation with a lovely chap on the same trek
    Turns out he surfs, lives just above that fickle favourite break of mine on NBs
    – we talk boards – outer islands off course!

    its Ian /Oscar!

    October 30, 2017
  8. Was he wearing something yellow?

    October 30, 2017
  9. Dave #

    Some days – yeah
    Retired and recovering from a knee ailment, didn’t slow him down on the big hills though

    October 30, 2017

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