Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dora's Ungentle Needling

Purity. Perhaps one of the more conflict-inciting concepts in world history.  Also the supposedly magic ingredient in what is known as the peak experience. A year ago I plunked down a chunk of change on a surfboard with dubious design origins but handcrafted by an acknowledged master. I did my research on the board before buying it of course, finding the fabled and trademarked Dora smoke screen legend clinging tightly to the creation myth of the design.  But there was something about it I couldn't avoid. Its oddity and possible uselessness pulled me in. The execution period of my untested love affair with the odd shape, weight and rail specs lasted only a handful of sessions as my knees decided, at 38 years and millions of reps, they were simply tired of my shit. That crazy foot-rutted Jim Phillips Copy Cat model sat unused on my wall for the better part of seven or so months and after hours of tai chi, rudderless meditation, and fretful glances to swell reports, the physical green light was given some weeks ago tore-start the labour of love to find out how that thing would work. Ah, the consternations allied with purity. For the design process is birthed in a search for purity. In this case the purity of function and form in context of that purest of physical endeavors, riding a wave. But of course the hands that wrought it, initially, were not quite the hands that wrought it subsequently, as Jim Phillips' mastery seems to compensate for some of the shape's less useful Dora-esque idiosyncrasies. Or, I should say, perhaps the board should never have been sold to surf on Long Island. At least these were the first, gut-wrenching assumptions I made upon my return. And in truth, this is probably the case. But every board has its place, every plank its slot. And I've had a ball on the thing the last few weeks, getting used to its grumpiness regarding turns, its stinginess with nose time, its incorrigible disgust with any foot placement other than the two thirds point of the board. I've started to accept the nuances and use them to my advantage. Until this morning. This morning I happened upon the heretofore apotheosis of its place in my surfing life: the switchstance section beater. Somehow that thing just wants to be ridden a little willy-nilly, my squat legs just searching for balance, my arms held just so. It wants me there, wild and slightly unhinged. Sweet, ungentle purity.

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