Trust the King
There is MUCH more energy on the reef this morning. Its thunder is like a constant itch. I can’t focus. I’m scared again. I want to go, but I don’t. I want to catch a big one, but I don’t. The jet skis buzz by and a flash orange boat loads up across the way with a French pro and his photog posse. I’m scared. I go inside. Lay down on the settee bench”¦take a few deep breaths”¦I’m up again. Eat a banana. Put on some sunscreen. Lay back down. Close my eyes. Open them. Sit up. Shuffle through some bikinis. Gather more stuff than I would need for a two week surf trip and finally make my way over to the circus that’s gathered at Teahupoo*. Teahupoo* is doing what it does in the pictures today. It’s big, it’s barreling, it’s beautiful, and I’m, yes, scared. There’s a crowd of maybe 15, not all THAT bad, and I sit a while and watch the guys take off from way inside, boldly set the rail, and slingshot through the perfect water vortex. They make it look SO easy.
I paddle out. I’m scared. I hang at the edge. I realize the crowd factor is tricky. No pressure, I tell myself. I wait. It’s perfectly glassy. I drift up the line-up and then paddle back down. And wait. And watch. The boys paddle around me like I don’t exist, but my uncertainty is visible.
Raimana, the king Tahitian waterman, stands outside on his stand-up paddleboard–calm and content and poised–as he strokes easily into a thick set at the west bowl”¦I hold my breath beholding his steep drop just in front of the explosion of whitewater…but there’s no need, I can tell it’s like a Sunday stroll in the park for him. He paddles back up, calling the sets and running the line-up like an auctioneer. I wait and watch. He’s brought a 13-year old local charger, Keoni, today. Observing his every order to Keoni, I watch his tight adherence to Raimana’s words”¦the trust between them is clear. I catch a small one and paddle quickly over to the shoulder. Raimana calls Keoni into another west one. But this time there are two and I am left alone with the second…the other’s are too deep.
Raimana has seen me surf before. I introduced myself at the pass a few miles down. He’s seen me waiting here, but I’m not sure if he’s sure that I’m sure if I actually really WANT one of these waves. But suddenly I really DO. I’m NOT scared. The wave is all mine if I want it…
“Go Liz! GO!!!!!! Paddle in!!!!!!! TO THE REEF!! To the reef!!!!! GOoooooooooooo!” I paddle with everything I have, just barely getting under it. It curdles up under me, thick and bottoming out. I’m late but here we go! I don’t even think”¦anymore as my body switches over to muscle memory. I am air dropping with my rail in hand. There’ water in my eyes and a lot of foam but I somehow recover from the drop, momentarily hear the foamball, and go rocketing out the other side. I survived! And who could guess what I want now…MORE!
Jade BarkerMay 19, 2009
Every nerve ending quivered reading this Liz, I’m so envious. God lady! You got nerve and all that. Thank you for sharing.
MikeMay 19, 2009
I can’t imagine air-dropping at Chopes. Hell, I don’t think I can even imagine paddling out there on a day like that.
Steve JudgeDecember 18, 2009
I’m new to your blog…..and surfing. You had me on the edge of my seat! Thanks for taking me on that little adrenalin rush of a journey. Felt like I was right there with you (that’s what a good writer does with their stories). Trust the King. Trust your instincts.
Best Wishes on all your surfing adventures,