Taking a distant fourth place behind family, friends and faith is my love of waves. And, like the aforementioned other favorites, I never tire with what they have to offer.
I love everything about waves, except their overly zealous attempt to drown me from time to time.
I am forever enamored by their sound, especially in the dark when a point wave hits flat water above a bed of river rock like it does at Trestles on those pre-dawn patrols.
I love the way a wave smells after breaking and sending all those cute little and wrongly named negative ions into the air.
There’s nothing negative about it. I love the feeling of saltwater as it dries and forms salt crystals on my skin.
The site of waves from massive Hawaiian slabs to perfect California point breaks, glassy peaks and even disorganized chop is a study in order from chaos.
Then, of course, there is the feeling of riding a wave.
From the moment you see it shyly reveal its pretty face on the horizon, to the moment it dissolves and gently (if your lucky) places you on the shore, it produces an electronic symphony of good feelings.
Once I have spotted a wave, which may have traveled over a thousand miles to meet me, my heart rate increases while I attempt to out maneuver everyone else in the lineup and lay claim to it.
As anyone who has ever surfed can tell you, this is not easy. Regardless of how athletic you are, timing a wave will takes years to fully master.
Next comes my favorite part of any ride—dropping in. If you are in just the right position, you can accomplish a no-paddle takeoff, which, as the term implies, means you don’t take any strokes to catch the wave.
Hopefully, there is nobody on the shoulder in front of you.
If somebody is behind you, you should give way unless they are a wave hog on a massive board trying to snag every wave that come through.
With the coast clear, you are now free to employ gravity and drop in. The best drops are those made on the tiptoes, barely surviving to the bottom where you make your first turn.
The bottom turn sets the rest of the ride up and offers options of racing down the line or climbing the face to hit the lip.
The best waves offer the shelter of a tube, something that in North County is rare and therefore all the more valuable.
Too much speed may facilitate the need for a cutback.
After the cutback, the entire process—minus dropping in—begins again.
Of course you may end the ride in a wipeout anywhere along the line.
If not, a good wave will open up to offer the chance at either a series of turns and cutbacks until the wave suffers a slow, and apparently painless, death.
You may also feel the need to kick out before the wave loses energy or closes out.
On the final wave of a session, the desire of most is to be gently deposited on shore, where the adventure first began.
Next time you ride a wave, try not to consider what you did on it, but what it did for you.
You have been miraculously carried along on a band of energy in a magic moment that will never be repeated again.