For every Average Joe surfer, each “little” accomplishment on a wave feels like a major victory. Whether it’s a solid bottom turn, sticking a spontaneous floater, or ducking into a short cover up beneath the lip, we all have moments on a wave that take us one step further from being average. I can count on one hand how many times I felt like I was totally “in the zone,” and the one time I managed to tie my boardshorts while surfing a wave is one such moment. It’s my favorite and best wave to this day.
We all have a peculiar attachment to certain waves. For the sake of this story, try to imagine your own favorite wave.
First, you start off playing in gentle, waist high peelers and a few years later you find yourself staring at 10-foot faces, your guts wrenching in fear. Somehow, you feel confident, though; confidence in your board, your crew, and above all, yourself. Every past trip and session here has been a build-up to this moment. You remind yourself of this and paddle on. A big set can be heard rolling in from a distance, and like a flock of birds swaying in unison, a few surfers paddle toward it in sync with each other. It’s just before sunset and the water’s still warm – a little too warm to have worn that neoprene rashguard. You regret having made the decision to wear it during this session, so you take it off and tie it around your shoulders like you’ve put on a cape.
Your buddies all take the first waves of the set and now you’ve found yourself sitting out the back all alone. The biggest wave is actually yet to come. There’s a sensation of looseness around your waist, though. The knot on your boardshorts has come undone and there’s no time to tie it back on without missing that wave. Fuck it, “Socio” would go. So you go.
You were sitting in such perfect position that you didn’t even need to paddle very hard. The wave gently picks you up and, before you can blink, you’re on your feet, dropping down the face for what feels like an eternity. You set a line and without starting to plan for all the turns this wave face will open itself up for, you simply crouch down and soak in the view of this overhead wave peeling in front of you. Standing tall in those loose boardshorts, you reach down and instinctively tie them. When you’re done, you suddenly realize you’re in the zone. “I just tied my boardshorts while riding a wave.” It’s almost like the wave is surfing itself. You’re in control and there’s no need to stress about throwing the tail or going for a big hack under the lip. You’re simply flying on a wave, soaking in a mixture of bliss and saltwater.
On such a wave, making it to the other end is all that matters. Minute-long rides are possible here, maybe even standard with the perfect swell angle, and the paddle back out is totally worth the effort. After a wave like that, though, there’s no reason to paddle out for another. You’ve officially gotten your fill and then some with one ride. You don’t even feel the need to talk to your buds about that wave because a quick exchange of looks will suffice. They saw you and you know it. Their reassuring glances say more than a thousand words, for you’ve all shared a thousand waves and many sessions together.
You wait for the moon to rise while you wonder where your rashguard went. You’re alone at this point, so you call it a night and paddle back in from the darkness. There’s a warm fire and a cold beer waiting for you at the campground. The moon is out and you don’t even have the energy to crawl into your tent so you pass out on your board bag, covered by a wool blanket and the overwhelming feeling of gratitude.