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this is how some sessions begin in the carpark

Every surfer has had to jump off a ledge, or a clifftop, or a slippery rock platform at some active time in their surfing life. This is made necessary on those days when paddling out from the beach is made impossible by the size of the breaking seas.

Like North Avalon at 10′ {plus a bit}, and with all the heavenly wind and swell arrangements in their rightful configuration. For who can resist all these  ..

Though there are often consequences..

Some say, that to observe a procession of surfers winding its way around and through coastal rockfall and under the dark cliffs  – on their slow path to a joyful reward in the thunderous ocean – is not unlike watching a line of penitents inching their sorry path to the grim confessional. This similarity arises because of the certainty that heavy punishment will handed out in both instances, before the final reward. This is a Christian interpretation.

These observers – to continue with the religious theme – can be likened to that unholy mob who once thronged to the Roman Colosseum on Saturday afternoons – all eager for a few cold beers with the lads and bit of fried food, plus the splash of some substantial gladiatorial blood in all the game quarters. Heavy arterial blood. Massive and unchecked blood loss. Severed limbs. Corpses twitching in the bloody sand. The triumphant glint of an upraised scimitar as the Scythian giant sliced away another noisy head.

That’s how easy it was for William Wyler to make Ben Hur. His biggest problem was convincing Charlton Heston not to wear a handgun.


Many beaches are favoured with extremely hairy take-off spots; long flat expanses of bare rock swept clean every five minutes by roaring walls of white-water (Avalon, Wedge), wicked little half-submerged caves where the anxious huddle for their allotted fifteen seconds between sets (Warriewood), long shallow boulder strewn shallows swept by a strong undertow (Lennox)

Everyone of these take-off spots different, and on the right day a risk for anyone to take – and a massively entertaining spectacle for anyone to watch.

A local and well-established hierarchy can be shaken on days so big that the only way out is over the ledge.

Some hard men falter here – it only takes one misstep –  then they might hesitate, then stumble, and finally fall – to be swept away into the boulders and suckpools that welcome the receding wave. Fragile boards are destroyed in an instant. Some surfers shred all the skin off their hands as they grab at anything that might steady their uncontrolled tumbling amongst the sharp edged stones. Sharp edged and oyster covered stones.

Others disappear underwater for long seconds as they attempt to untie their trapped leg ropes. Invariably coming to the surface at the same moment another massive surge of white-water is upon them.

You could sell tickets to see some of this this stuff.

Surfing is not like tennis or golf, or cricket – surfing has a lot in common with mountaineering.

Picture yourself on the Everest South Col at three am. The final camp before the summit. Dozens of tents littered about the level ground.

Everybody stirring. Time to go for the top and the weather forecast is for a worsening conditions in about twelve hours. This means that you have to get in front of the Japanese climbers who are already in front of you, the slow Japanese climbers, otherwise you won’t make the summit and may die up here to lay in the same spot for fifteen years.

So, it’s best to get in front of the dud group on the high ground, asamatteroffact it’s best to get in front of ALL the dud groups at 26,000 plus feet. This is Gospel.

– but surfing is not really like mountaineering though, because we do it the other way around. This is crucial to the technique.

Ron is a fair surfer, he gets amongst it from time to time and today he has the local gun group behind him in the queue. Young blokes who’ve been out all morning and are still on full throttle. Twitching to get back out there. So Ron has to Go even though he really does need another minute or two for his final and personal bout of serious internal retrospection, a few goodbyes.

The reason that Ron has to go now is that they (the gun lads) will just charge on past him if he doesn’t and this will not be good for his social standing, locally speaking. So Ron goes too early – and all of the above sadness happens.

Mick is a fair surfer and he also gets into it from time to time and today he lets a long string of surfers file past him in the carpark until he spots a couple following each other with The Fear in their eyes. These two become Mick’s personal slot number one and slot number three. He slips in between them and takes personal slot number two. Three little penguins all in a row.

Mick knows that the bloke behind him isn’t in a hurry, and he also knows that the bloke in front of him will be susceptible to a bit of a hurry up. Either way his slot-time widens way up on the ledge as the first guy gets fully creamed and the third guy shits himself watching the destruction.

So Mick gets out the back with dry hair.

– and this is how some sessions begin in the carpark.

mavericks pic by john curley

this remembers mick mabitt, and with a nod to leggo -good men to have in your corner

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ben #

    This is the dogs naggers. The rush or fear of taking the leap is one of the very best parts of our pastime.There are quite a few barnacle encrusted gulleys to launch from in my neck of the woods. The keyhole at Coxos (Portugal) always lives with me for some reason too.
    The trouble is as time goes on (and on) the rock launch seems to become less of a rush and more of ..well a challenge.
    And then of course there is the paddle in up the same surging gulley….more damage to vessel and body s done here.
    Good form…let the rancour with the ‘bong’ go. They are not relevant.

    October 25, 2012
  2. Curtis the Strange #

    best yet…watching the key hole has provided its fair share of entertainment and whilst living there I provided some on occasion. Fear and Joy mixed into one rollercoaster…Times when you get out dry and others when you are dry retching!

    October 25, 2012
  3. And give a wee thought to us kneelos who choose to add a difficulty quotient of 4.5 by flapping and falling around in our Churchills whilst we make our muttering, angst-ridden way out. Miking us would yield priceless gems. Curses long considered dead. Imprecations that would turn the stomachs of merchant seamen. Chiropodists, ding repairers, fin sellers and sports doctors all send us Christmas cards

    October 25, 2012
    • geez sb, I’ve seen goatboaters trying the run – They go over the edge with the boat under one arm and a paddle under the other, then it’s into the water, onto the goatie (meanwhile don’t lose the paddle), feet into the straps and finally they dig in to go. Always too late, always.
      They would be the premium tickets.

      October 25, 2012
  4. Paul Cutler #

    Got stuck behind, and eventually taken out by ‘Ron’ lining up at National Parks whilst Cyclone Yasi was delivering the goods a few years ago. Got smashed by ‘Ron’ but made it out through the piles of whitewash to continue the session. Last I saw of him he was getting bounced down the boulders on his way to the Cove. I suppose his plastic board may have fared better than his body – didn’t really dwell on it too much, however.

    October 26, 2012
  5. sjh #

    sorry to not agree old chap, PB explores with pen wit and skill many angles , reading his sketches one can never quite guess where it will end up.

    keep up flow of thought PB bring words to paper some bright some dark but all in all appreciated by those that care to read

    October 27, 2012

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