national hairball awareness day * acid drop


Ghost Trees * Monterey Bay

Ghost Trees * Monterey Bay, California

When I think of acid drops, I think back to Bruce Raymond taking off on a straight up and down wave at Waimea, that was about four stories high. His eyes were bulging, his mouth as round and oval as possible, and he had no chance to even consider the other three guys on the wave, as all he could think about was ground zero, or in his case, his bottom turn. Also recall Tom Carroll and his free fall, air drop takeoff on (very) good sized Laniakea, his follow up fin free top turn and a closing airborne kickout, all in perfect sync and balance. Or myself riding Little Reef at the Cove on an ancient pea green log, with little to no rocker, spinning 180 to catch the wave, dropping vertical into the straight down wave, and somehow cornering off the bottom without burying the nose. There are the vacuum suck drops at the Wedge, suck outs at Big Rock where you have no choice but to navigate behind the peak at takeoff, and the rapidly dropping tide at Nusa Lembongan, entreaty to bomb blast explosions over the shallow reef.

Mark Healy * Dungeons, South Africa

Mark Healey * Dungeons (Hout Bay, Capetown) South Africa * 2008 Red Bull Big Wave Africa * image Barry Tuck, Red Bull photo files

Ghost Trees * Pescadero Point, Monterey Peninsula

Ghost Trees (Pescadero Point, Del Monte Forest) Monterey Peninsula

And hairball is more of the same, with waves usually lined up with rocks in the line of consequence. Or when the bottom squares off on you, and/or the boils empty out the cradle of the wave. There is always the good ol’ when the rock gets inbetween your bottom turn and the wave, or when a friend of mine chose to go right at Marine Street on an oversized swell, and he had no chance but to run up on the rocks before he could get out of the wave. Where I grew up we had an impediment called “hair rock,” and was named so for a reason, as you oft would thank your lucky stars and/or count your blessings after coming up from getting pummeled and somehow avoided intersection with said obstacle.

Ghost Trees boil

how to deal with a boil (at Ghost Trees) * photo Scott Wall

Nazare hairball

Nazare hairba!!

There are many of us who can recall being neck deep in a wipeout and with a liquid avalanche ‘bout ready to unload on our head, or when we thought we had plenty of board for the waves at hand (Todos Santos), only to be vanquished by the whitewater and to resurface beside our now broken Xcalibur. There was the madness called Ghost Trees for awhile, and there is always Laird at Peahi.

Just finished watching “Wave of the Winter,” sponsored by O’Neill last night, as no doubt you can count on second/third reef Pipeline for both hairball and the proverbial acid drop. And Shipstern Bluff or Shippies as Rasta refers to it, is straight nutzo by any other name.

Jame McKean at Shipstern Bluff, Tasman Peninsula

Jame McKean * Shipstern Bluff (Raoul Bay, Tasman Peninsula) Tasmania, Australia * photo Andrew Chisholm

Nathan Fletcher helicopter acid drop

helicopter acid drop * Nathan Fletcher * North Shore, Oahu

acid drop * five of waves * surfer tarot

Reason takes a back seat when deep water waves abruptly hit the shelf, spilling out over a chasm like, elevator drop. Over the liquid cornice ledge, we free fall sideslip down the face, weightless past the precipice point of no return. With heart in our throat and mouths wide open, we know the gaping maw is just over our shoulder. Arms raise above our head and eyes pop, buggin’ out as we negotiate the vertical descent. With nothing but instinct and reflex to rely on, it’s all about the drop, and the timing of the bottom turn. With one fin in the water and boils all around, we land acrobatic takeoffs and gain assurance against the possibility of pulling off the impossible. The visceral thrill is an “aye carumba!” and “bonsai!” and dependent upon a “she’s gotta have it” mentality, as there is no waiting for the next wave. It’s a severe acid test and a free karmic credit check. We run the gamut of fear and exultation and leave either happy or ruined. It’s high intensity and high vigilance, and not for the faint hearted. We learn a new respect for self and others who have fallen before us, not to mention our mother ocean.

Ichiro Tsutsui twinkle drop

twinkle drop * Ichiro Tsutsui

After the initial adrenaline rush, most hope to regain control of their emotions. For others of us, we are chronic surf fanatics, only too willing to face disappointment, and relive the “gut wrenching” intensity, breached more times than not, by an “unhappy ending.” There is a “caution” against broken heart and spirit, “so as to be able to surf another day,” but we feel obligated as a “real” surfer, to be willing to pay the price for our extremist “surf addiction.” The compulsion towards adrenalin rush is nothing but an attempt to escape our indelibly deep set feelings. But we’re “the man” at “the spot,” and feel guilty, if not ashamed, if we don’t go. Everybody’s at the peak with divided intentions. “Indecion’s buggin’ me,” as “he who hesitates, is lost.” Things are tense as most are tired of waiting for a makeable wave, or woman, and are hard up and ready to turn a blind eye to consequence. It’s inbetween waves and we’re not “gettin’ any.” It’s too late to file a protest, and our complaints go unheard. The time for lament is over. Broken boards and relationships seem so long ago, with no solutions at hand anyways. We can’t concentrate and sit hoping she’ll take pity on us. It’s a fat chance, as a fat splat is the only sound heard, as face plant and painful spill befalls us once again. We failed to pull back and things didn’t go as planned. We lost our footing and the bottom fell out from under us. We were saved from drowning, but we still hit rock bottom.

Get off to a good start. “Pull it off,” and give thanks for making the wave. Know when to go and when to be careful. You know there’ll be another day and wave. Are you being honest with yourself? Look at that. Do you need an emotional outlet? Are you dealing with your truest and deepest of feelings, and emotions? Are you a coward, or are you “projecting” out your aggression on others? Is “no worries, no regrets…. mate,” come from the depths of your heart and soul? Fear galvanizes your encounter. Learn from your loss and pick up the pieces. Start over again. Are you ashamed of yourself? Or do you feel misunderstood? Be a “braveheart.” Refine your lines and regain your confidence. Think twice about holding out for the super set wave, and perhaps instead, consider settling for the one “heaven sent.”

Ron Croci Deuces Wi!d

Deuces Wi!d by Ron Croci

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