07 March 2009

Montara, 7 March 2008

It's interesting that my surf buddy M just wrote about "The Confidence Thing" as the other side of the coin from fear, and that a Western Australia surfer also thanked me for having the guts to write about fear. Because today was all about facing the fear.

It was supposed to be a small day, so I loaded my longboard and expected to be hunting for knee-knockers. Montara, I thought, would have the most enthusiastic ripples, and as I drove past the near-flat Jetty I still wasn't expecting much. As it turned out, Montara was probably the best place to be this morning if you were a shortboarder, with curling, punchy waves going near head-high on the sets. There were no other longboards in sight; it was another bout of brought-the-wrong-board-itis, and I was sorely wishing I had Nemo the fish or even my Xanadu Rocky shortboard. In retrospect, I should have driven on and searched for something more suitable, perhaps even at Ocean Beach, which was reportedly offering up weak summerlike waves. But I had forgotten that Montara always looks smaller from the cliff, and when I reached the sand, fully suited up with the Blue Behemouth, it seemed to late to turn back.

Summer conditions were absent and I searched for an accessible entry point through the powerful shorepound. The ocean quickly rebuffed my first attempt, spitting me back on the sand, so I walked a bit farther down the beach and made it out on a lull. There, looking at the backsides of waves beyond my comfort level on a big board, I had to face my fear of the consequences of failing attempts to catch them, a fear that seems to grow whenever I'm in a period, as now, when I haven't ridden even one damn wave in long time. It took a while to work up courage to try, including paddling off the crowded peak onto an empty one that looked a little mushier. I had no sooner attempted to back off a closeout that took Big Blue for a ride and me with it, dragged by my leash, that I got caught inside and had a mercifully brief hold-down. Then the rest of the set waves crashed in, one after the other, and I could only push my board away and dive down, tumbled like a bit of flotsam in the surf. Washed near the beach, I still had to make it out through the shorepound, getting rolled to the edge of a trough where I could finally touch bottom, then grabbing my board and running out of the water before the next breaker crashed down, finally safe on dry sand, panting.

At least I cleaned the cobwebs off of my longboard.

Standing on water.
Today's pix were taken with my new GoPro Digital Hero 5 wrist camera. I'll review it later.


  1. Yeah, they always look smaller from the cliffs! From the beach too I reckon. We have a break called Mutton Bird where you look down from the lookout tower and say to yourself 'I could handle that'. As you come down the track in the 4WD they get bigger. At least if you have the vehicle you have a quiver of boards to choose from.

  2. Eh, I drive a MINI Cooper S so bringing extra boards is a challenge. And I was so sure today would be small!

  3. Just discovered your blog through my partner Michelle, the West Australian surfer. mentioned in this post.
    Great reading and I look forward to more from you.
    So inspired by your GoPro Digital Hero 5 Wrist Cam pics, that I have ordered a GoPro Helmet cam, so thanks for the heads up on what looks like a great range of products.

  4. Mini Cooper S, do they have those in the US?? Yes I can imagine it is a challenge alright. What about a roof rack?

  5. Thanks, ramsnake. I thought about a helmet cam, but then I would have to not only get a helmet but actually wear it all the time, which would feel to geeky on days when there's little need for it.

    miCheLLeBLOG, I have a roof rack, but there's still the issue of what to do with the LB if I don't take it out. It won't fit in the car and would be easy to steal from the roof.

  6. I only needed to get hit on the head once ( I thought I had cracked my skull and was so relieved it did not knock me out cold and it was a small day! ) to realise a helmet was a necessity if you are riding a longboard or the line up is crowded!
    My first car was an original Mini Cooper S which I got because up to that time I had been riding motorcycles and felt I needed a soft let down if I was going to make the move to 4 wheels - such a lot of fun!

  7. Oh and we use lockable straps if we need to leave our boards on in a place they are likely to get stolen. Check them out at

  8. We have the lockable straps. About $90 AUS. They are really good but I don't know how persistent your thieves are, its usually enough to discourage Aussie thieves and down on the south coast here we can leave our boards on without any locking devices. Don't know for how much longer though as we are getting lots more people moving down here and that means more of all the crap too.

  9. I have Steelcore straps, but they're a pain in the ass to use with the MINI roof rack system because of their width. I'll check out the SPTs from REI, thanks for the link.

    Yeah, I know I should have a helmet for the crowded days, just haven't gotten around to buying one - feelin' lucky!