Tag Archives: surfing


It was the best laid plans of mice and men: Score a noserider for Nationals and I’d be golden.

But alas! My master strategy backfired.

A challenge is why I signed up, and by golly, gee whiz, where ya from, eh? A challenge is what I got.

It took me 10-minutes to punch out the back. Not longboard conditions at all. If I hadn’t been “training” on my friends’ 10′ for the last two weeks, the shortest board possible would’ve been my choice.

I caught one gem though. That wave put me on the scoreboard.

Also got worked on the inside by a large set. Someone told me later they thought that was the one of the biggest sets they’d seen all day.

My friend Jay shared this photo he snapped of me in the white jersey. It certainly showed how unruly the conditions were. Head high closeouts to the horizon. My arms flailing for balance as I rode one in on the inside.

Who wants to paddle out into that, right? Local knowledge or not, there are plenty of excuses I could have deployed for not surfing these big waves.

But I had paid the $60 registration fee, my name was on the competitive matrix, and I was surfing in the contest. There’s no crying in baseball, and Mother’s Day weekend makes you call for your mommy.

The play-by-play over the speakers was muffled on account of the wind and heavy sets.

After changing in the parking lot, I humbly made my way back to Wickaninnish Beach with my camera bag and notepad in tow. There were junior National crowns to be handed out, after all. SUP surf titles too.

I found a vacant beach chair in front of the Corona tent and plopped myself down, ready to watch all the action from the shore, just like a spectatrice.







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enter a surf contest


Oh man, I only needed 4.74 to make the finals! Totally doable. 🙂

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vomit draft

UNEDITED excerpt from

pony up or eat it

by nora o’malley

part I

california (is a good kisser)

“That right there’s a surfer girl,” another said.

Instead of turning their way, I kept my gaze on the waves. There’s only one thing a pro surfer wants from a pretty girl anyways, and it ain’t her company in the water. Let me assure you.

When the pot wore off, I made my way back to San O to suit up for a longboard. But oddly enough, I was thinking about shortboarding the entire time.

chapter 21
Dating when you’re living out of a campervan is hard work, but I was trying. I picked up this one surfer boy at Blackies named Andreas. He was from Greece, studying Physics at the University of California. He surfed and he climbed, which was a bonus since I was hoping to find someone to go to Joshua Tree with. I also liked the fact that he was a gorgeous nerd with an unruly head of curly brown hair. I was a sucker for messy locks.

Our first official ‘date’ was coffee and a boiled egg (I kid you not, he made me a boiled egg) at his place on campus followed by a mission to T-Street in San Clemente. T-Street was definitely a level or two up from the waves at San O. Like Trestles, it broke faster, meaning YOU had to be faster.

We parked just up the hill from the beach where the parking was free. Andreas took his shortboard, I waxed up Patience the longboard. His dark eyes widened as I awkwardly changed out of my red jean shorts and black tank top into my 3/2 wetsuit. I already had a blue bikini underneath my clothes in anticipation for the moment.

As we approached the shore, we scouted the lineup for a spot to sit.

“I’m gonna sit on the outside,” I said and pointed to a vacant lot just left of the pod of surfers. There were some decent surfers out there. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.

“Well, I’ll be around there,” Andreas said and pointed to the middle of the lineup.

“OK! Maybe see you out there,” I said. Clearly this surf date was off to a great start!

It wasn’t easy getting out past the break. The white walls were much more powerful than San O and I got spit back to the shore a couple times before I finally made it out. Then I spent about an eternity trying to catch waves, but missing. Or getting tossed.

When I eventually got out of the water, Andreas was already waiting for me by the showers. He had already changed and had something to eat.

“Fuck, sorry about that! I didn’t realize I was out for so long,” I said.

“Where were you?” he said.

“I was sitting on the outside the whole time. You didn’t see me?”

“Nope,” he said.

“How could you not see me! I was the only one out with long hair,” I said.

We drove back to his place exchanging uncomfortable dialogue. He invited me up for a joint, I accepted, but in hindsight I should have just kept cruising. After the joint I stood up to leave.

“You’re going?” he said.

“Ya, I’m gonna go find a place to park the van for the night,” I said. What did he think that just because I was living out of a van that I’d put out on the first date?

Andreas desperately tried to hold my attention by offering up another joint.

“Nah, I’m tired. Gonna header,” I said. “Gimme a call if you want to go surfing again!”

I was just being polite. I knew he wouldn’t call. Surfing is an innately selfish sport, and we both weren’t willing to compromise our own ocean agendas just yet. Oh well, there’s always climbing… Only if there’s no swell or I have a flesh wound that can’t get wet, of course.

chapter 22

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Victoria’s Secret

Very sexy string of waves coming through.

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live the dream

Torquay, Great Ocean Road, Australia. Winter 2013. Photo: Tom Powell

it’s never too late

you’re never too old

you’re never too sick

to start from scratch

to be born again

– Bikram Choudhury

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We may obsess about our PBs and mileage count, but these things alone are not enough to get us out running. We could find easier ways to chart and measure things. We could become trainspotters, or accountants. No, the times and charts are merely carrots we dangle in front of our rational mind, our over-analytical brain, to give it a reason to come along for the ride. What really drives us on is something else, this need to feel human, to reach below the multitude of layers of roles and responsibilities society has placed on us, down below the company name tags, even the father, the husband, son labels, to the pure, raw human being underneath. At such moments, our rational mind becomes redundant. We move from thought to feeling.

Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth. Written by Adharanand Finn.

Applies to surfing too.

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“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

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read surf books

In order of when they found me:

Let my people go surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

Oriented Consciousness Mastering in the Practice of Surfing by Castello de Costa et al.

Surf Survival: The Surfer’s Health Handbook

The Girl’s guide to Surfing by Andrea McCloud (girls only, no boys allowed)

The Big Drop: Classic Big Wave Surfing Stories

Surfing California: A Complete Guide to the Best Breaks on the California Coast

H20 Surf Travel Guide Costa Rica by Jonathan Yonkers Chavarria

Eddie Would Go by Stuart Holmes Coleman

How to be a surfer by João De Macedo (eternal barrel filled with rainbows!)

Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey by Kelly Slater (E=MC2)

Layne Beachley: Beneath The Waves by Michael Gordon

The Badlands (pretty pictures)

Bells: The Beach, The Surfers, The Contest

The Big Juice: Epic Tales of Big Wave Surfing

Grey Skies, Green Waves: A Surfer’s Journey Around the Uk and Ireland by Tom Anderson (never finished it)

Hitting The Lip: Surfing in South Africa by Cornel Barnett

Stoked! By Bob McTavish

The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto

Gidget by Frederick Kohner

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Title Track


Pick it up: 0424864752

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picture it

the power as she picks you up

pushes you


then drop

sketching out your soul

viridian liquid canvas

one fast, fleeting


picture it.

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