Am I too old to ride a shortboard…?

silver surfer

I bought a shortboard about three years ago – at the time I was surfing most weeks – I was in good shape and the purchase seemed to make sense. I used it a few times that summer – on bigger, hollower days. But on the whole it’s just been gathering dust in my bedroom as I’m sure many small pointy boards do…

I loved my shortboard. Apart from being red (and quite shiny) it reminded me that I had the capability to get into critical waves even if that skill is now slightly buried under some aquatic inactivity and a miniscule smattering of subcutaneous polyunsaturates. It’s like hanging onto a pair of old jeans that used to fit or never letting your gym membership expire even if the most exercise you get is lifting a gin and tonic to your mouth.

I caught a wave on Monday that shattered all expectations of a mediocre session – an overcrowded corner of Baleal concentrated by unfriendly winds on all other breaks. But as the sets drove through at high tide the inexperienced crowd was naturally culled by the incoming lines of swell – leaving a few of us to take the pick of the waves. After a couple of suicide drops into close outs I got lucky and scored a classic Cantinho left – a peeling wall that lifted to meet my board at the perfect speed to gouge bottom turns and hit the lip. A foot higher and I would have needed that small pointy thing that stands between my shirts…

So I shall be keeping my shortboard even if it just stands in my wardrobe for most of the year with my metaphorically tight jeans (my mythical gym membership card in the pocket) hanging over it…

I didn’t surf today.

Portugal surf report, Cabedelo…

oops wrong turn


…I haven’t surfed at Cabedelo (Figueira de Foz) in a while. My lack of inertia since the winter months has been tough to shake and so has the additional layer of insulation I’ve been cultivating. The waves there are a bit punchier than most around the Peniche area so you need to be pretty fit to make the most of the better days. I timed the paddle out beautifully, the rip whisking me out back in a few moments. A short paddle across the bay led me straight into a perfect left. It was surf-video perfect, a clean long range swell groomed by the light offshore wind lifting up over the banks at just over head high. I was in just the right spot and the wave lifted the back of the board and threw me down the face into a deep bottom turn. After making some good speed mid face I raked out one more bottom turn and then lifted up and over the closing lip. It was the first ‘real’ wave of the year for me. It left me grinning and shaking as I paddled back out to sea…

What followed was a series of humbling events that involved an unexpected, much bigger set. Some underwater time. Lots of flailing and floundering. Some more underwater time. A bit more flailing and finally some nice relaxing ‘down time’ on the beach with just me, my thoughts and my crushed and fragile ego for company.

After a while I stood up (manfully) strode back into the sea (again in a manly way) and then repeated the last paragraph (not quite so manly at this point).

At which point I decided to focus carefully on the first paragraph and strode casually to the car – grinning once again. I then ate a large chocolate cake and drove home. Perfect.

I surfed today. For about 8 seconds. Which sometimes is just enough…

The snail (incidentally) has absolutely nothing to do with anything but could be misconstrued as representing the above post. In a loose metaphorical way.

Britney surfs naked…

For new arrivals to Papersurfer you probably arrived here through the global sensation the people are calling ‘google’. The theory being that you type in some keywords and you get to view a web page with relevant content. Some of you came here looking for inspiration that follicly challenged, slightly overweight men can (and do) surf with passion and dedication. You were looking for reassurance that your belief that surfing is better than real life is not misguided and that others share your views. Your beliefs and convictions. Your love…

Others came here to find spank fodder.

Some of you will be very disappointed.

I didn’t surf today. I hope I won’t be able to type this tomorrow…

Illustration taken from ‘Papersurfer – diary of a middle aged surfer‘.

Surf rage…

…due to a painful and excessively embarrassing incident involving an ancient snowboard, a distinct lack of finesse and my unprotected coccyx – I’ve been spending too much time cruising the interweave for idle stimulation. In an attempt to distract my mind from my aching derrière I’ve found myself following numerous threads on surfing forums and surf video upload sites.

Expecting to find like-minded souls dissecting the fabric of the universe in a suitable complicated and organic manner I found anger and disparity amongst brethren. I found fellow surfers using expletives suitable to sailing folk and a level of rage usually found only within the studio walls of the Jerry Springer show.

I am horrified that people can spend so much of their precious moments on this planet finding ways to insult each other. They should be giving each other big virtual hugs – not hurling internetty hatred around. It makes me mad to think that creative energy is wasted on purile filth and lazy humour. Haven’t these idiots got anything better to do than whittle away their lives in cyberspace – making facile obsevations about people that they don’t even know. What a bunch of plebianic morons – making up flobbing great, narky, shite words that aren’t even real flippin English. Get a pigging life you tossing no hoper wanky bar-stewards before you give us intellectual surfers a bad name….

I didn’t surf today.

Illustration taken from ‘Papersurfer – diary of a middle aged surfer‘.

Fancy a holiday in the Algarve? Then click here…

Saltwater Buddha

I don’t read many books these days  – I spend such a large proportion of my spare time glued to a computer monitor that books just don’t seem to fit into my days any more.

Jaimal Yogis very kindly sent me a copy of ‘Saltwater Buddha’ to peruse and to be honest, it’s been sitting in my intray for months. I tend to ingest books rather quickly and if I don’t get to finish it all in one sitting they’ll lie dormant until they start to get woodworms moving in.

I opened up Saltwater Buddha this morning and finished it after lunch. It was good (both the midday food intake and the literary supplement).

It is Jaimal’s own story – the journey of a boy trying to find a balance between the two loves of his life – Buddha and surfing. Flitting from California to Hawaii, New York and around the world in search of the perfect wave, the perfect love and the perfect state of being. Along the way he encounters drunken Aussies, the Surf Nazis of Santa Cruz and finds a surprise guru to challenge his perceptions.

I enjoyed reading Saltwater Buddha. Both amusing and touching, it makes you consider your personal motives for surfing and your approach to other people in the water. We could all do with a bit of Buddha in our lives – especially in the water…

You can buy it here – SaltwaterBuddha.org

Youtubiness

I’m not big on youtube posting – especially when they are the deranged rantings of my own father (these actually make me feel like I have a six foot tapeworm gnawing through my insides which is slowly digesting my liver).

However, I have posted a couple of videos that me and Tango threw together after our excursion to Sri Lanka with my old friend Huwj.

There is some surfing (of the average variety), an exceedingly stoned tuk tuk driver, a few skinny cows and a very cool monk. What more could you ask for in a road movie…?

I didn’t surf today. I did freeze my proverbials off at Baleal on Thursday. Brrr…

Please turn the light off…

last one out

A few weeks ago I quit my job. Not because I’m lazy, selfish or an idiot but because I was sick of being treated like I was a lazy, selfish idiot. I may be or have been all of those things but as a consumate professional I try to leave those qualities for my friends and family to deal with. After a few days sulking (like only a real man can) I did what any person being twisted by stress and exhaustion should do – I drove west for several hours, parked my car next to the beach and and then threw myself head first into the sea…

I remember hooting with joy as I paddled out into the mediocre waves. Hooting again as I took off on the first mushy peak that came through and continuing to hoot until the sun started to drop into the sea. Oily ribbons of fading sunlight flashed with purple and gold across the water as one by one the surfers drifted ashore. The acrid layers of stress falling away from me like a snake losing its skin. Eventually the horizon was lost and the beach started to fade.

I surfed until the moon was the brightest thing in the sky.

My advice when faced with any sort of responsibility or potentially stressful situation is run away quickly. Then slip on some rubber, grab your plank and throw yourself down the front of some big wet, wobbly things. What could possibly go wrong…?

I didn’t surf today – still surfed out from the rest of the week (did I mention the head high and offshore perfection at Bocaxica on Wednesday? Mmmm…)

The day the circus came to town…

WCT collage

I’ve not been a huge fan of competition surfing – excessively talented athletes floundering around in crap waves trying to impress a row of slightly tubby ‘used to be’s’ wedged into deckchairs. But things seem to be changing…

The criteria has shifted axis from ‘how many turns we can cram into this wave?’ to ‘how deep?’, ‘how commited?’, ‘how varied, imaginative and even innovative?’. So things can get pretty interesting to watch.

We pitched up at Supertubos for the quarterfinals of the WCT just as the Atlantic started to throw some evil, dredging barrels at the shore. An average man would have thought twice about walking down the beach, let alone getting in the water but the top surfers on the planet didn’t flinch at paddling out to try and tame these beasts. Unpredictable, shifting peaks with thick lips and seemingly impossible drops created the battlefield for the closing stages of the competition – boards were broken, casualties taken and the following morning in slightly less daunting conditions a new Rip Curl Search champion was crowned.

Portugal embraced these travelling celebrities and their media entourage with amazing enthusiasm. Over 18,000 people walked 4km along the sand to get to the earlier weekend rounds at a tiny beach north of town. Even the somewhat surly local surfers seemed happy to kick back and lend their waves to Kelly and Mick for a few hours…

Watching the circus come through town doesn’t make me want to risk my life in monster waves or compete against others for glory and fame but it does make me realise that there are some truly inspirational people involved in this ‘sport’ that I and so many of my friends love. They are pushing the limits of what is possible in surfing and I can’t wait to get in the water and try to push mine too.

Quote of the day from Tango – as Bede Durbridge got eaten by a double overhead monster:

“He’s rubbish.”

I remembered how to surf this week. Better than working for a cranky old hag. Yeah baby yeah…

(You can peruse a few more photos at my flickr page.)