Saturday, September 24, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. It is balmy on a mid September morning. Usually in New York the seasons are pantomimically proverbial. Out with one, in with the other, one day to the next like the Sunday comics. This year the summer has hung about the city like a wet rag, no hint of that refreshingly slight chill in the air we're used to around this time. I wake up around five, hoof my finless pink softtop to the curb and wait for Antonio. He too is like clock work. A template veneer of mild mannered grumpiness hiding a ready joke. Our session is punctuated by Mike hooting and laughing and calling everyone in and burning everyone at the same time. We surf at Little Tokyo down from the Hebrew school. I figure out how to turn my board around mid face but can't quite catch the knack of getting it all the way around today. The waves are a little fat, a little high, providing not quite enough catch for the soft rails. We drive home happy, complaining lightly about the air we breathe.

2. Two days later and it is warm again when Antonio shows up late. We've taken to a new regimen to capitalize on his car and my lack thereof. His car had not been locked overnight and someone had stolen his $25 waterproof watch, a fact he grumbles about for half the drive to the beach. I ride the funny green triple stringed fish. Or rather, The First Board Jeff Taylor Ever Shaped. He warned me about it, making sure I'd know it wouldn't work but I borrow it anyhow, figuring there's no sense in not giving it a whirl. After a morning kooking and gassing, the only word I can use to describe it is "exceedingly." Exceedingly flat. Exceedingly straight. Exceedingly odd. I am not master understander of shaping or a master rider for that matter, but perhaps in certain circumstances this allows me a perspective on how something feels when it isn't working. And it doesn't work. In texts to Jeff later I tell him it sorta bogs down in the takeoff because of the exceeding flip in the nose (maybe) which means that one has to paddle in a bit late (maybe) but as it is so exceedingly straight and flat there is no pivot to make up for it (maybe.) Once I get it in the straightaway it's mostly fine, as long as I mind that tendency to bog. In the meanwhile Mike Ming is there again, hooting and calling us in. We drive home happy, complaining lightly about the air we breathe.

3. Two days later and it is the third envelopingly warm morning in a sorta happy mid September semi-swell. The sort of semi-swell that is just called a normal day in places like California. Here it feels like we are in the grace of the almighty. I wake up at our preordained time, suddenly fighting a cold. It is very early and the light has not begun to peak over the apartment buildings. I drink some garlic tonic and some apple cider vinegar tonic and I take some oregano oil and I blow some Thieves Spray into my mouth and I brew some tea. And I wait. I put the fins back on my softtop to give it one last go before making my way back to the real world this fall. And I wait. I put the board out in front of the house and I blow my nose. My kids start to wake up and my wife is startled that I'm still home. Antonio has overslept his alarm. My cold is getting worse.

4. Another two days on and the season finally seems to be kicking in. It is dark and frankly cold with a light drizzle coming down that turns into a not so light drizzle. I text Antonio to make sure he is up and take the bitter tinctures and venomous liquids that are supposed to make this full blown cold go away. They only seem to make my breath worse and my throat burn. A little into the waiting period Antonio texts. His battery is dead. I am too far into my second espresso to make it back into the bed and get the sleep I need. Antonio and I send texts back and forth imagining what they might put on our tombstones:
"He tried. But not that hard."
"Always a bridesmaid, never in the water."
"Early bird catches disappointment."
"You can lead a horse to water but it's blown out."
"Where there's a will there's always a way that has a different idea."
"One in the hand is worth diddly squat."
"If at first you don't succeed you should realize you were wrong in the first place."
"You can't knit a silk purse out of a dead battery."
"When in Rome you're not surfing."
"Don't count your chickens before the battery."
"It's like the pot calling the kettle into a wave while they both sink."
"Life's a beach but you can never get there. "


uprisingcoffee said...

Hey, I had to ask, I too have gone to the soft top revolution for awhile now. I don't know if its because I turned 40 not to long ago but I only ever seem to bring my single fin soft top with me. I also have tried the finless foamie and for the life of me can't spin or move the sucker unless I am almost kneeling on the thing. Do you find that to be the case? I don't even know why I am so fascinated by this phenomenon but I am! 88 surfboards really has my head spinning with those soft spaceman videos!

EditorialBoard said...

I haven't seen those videos. I should see those videos. I am going to go find those videos.
As for moving the thing... it moves around ok. A couple times I've almost gotten a shove-it sorta thing a couple times. But I've never gotten the sort of planing surface to really get it to go all the way around. I'm not quick enough in shifting my weight fast enough.

uprisingcoffee said... Those videos will have your head spinning. I feel like the finless soft tops they use are so much thinner than the soft tops I use. I feel like the weight is a huge difference on how they are generating that much speed. I am truly entranced at these videos and I am full friction free no thanks to Derek hynd! I am not sure if it's because I am bored with the same wave catching practice I regularly seem to have but this new movement has captured me!
I will try your techniques this weekend in jersey I think it will be 1-2 clean but that's enough for me to experiment! Take care.

EditorialBoard said...

Those videos... that looks like so much fun. Definitely sorta standard shorter softtops. The ones I'm spinning around on are nine foot. Looking at those I feel like I could probably really get a kind of goofball slidey shove it happening.

I constantly question why I started riding the sofftop exclusively over the last few years. I think old age and the specter of the deep structural damage my body carries around.

But really it's probably the realization that I've dropped off the spectrum of good surfing thanks to years spent doing other things. And in my own lame bid to stay "relevant" (to myself anyhow) I've decided to be "alternative." I just can't stomach the reality that I have frittered away whatever technical surfing talent I did or didn't have. I can't stand trying to measure up.

Which is ok. Because surfing is fun.

uprisingcoffee said...

I am totally enamored by those videos. You can see the fun all over their faces. That's exactly why I chose to go the soft top route. Also, like you my body isn't what it used to be and I started finding myself knee boarding and doing other things on my board than always standing. Popping up has become harder at 40! I can still do it and glide down the line but I just needed something new. Plus your right the soft top doesn't hurt when you bail out. Definitely the boards they use look to be 7 ft or under, granted one video they did have a nine footer but I can just see the thickness looks to be thin.
I actually contacted 88 surfboards and in the spring they will ship to the US. Also they maybe carried in places here too. i don't ever see myself not being the water so any chance that I have to prolong my ability I am all for it! Cheers!

BigDan said...

Life sucks, then you buy a soft top....