Resolutions, Rain and Redemption
To say 2016 kicked off with a bang would be an understatement.
Its been a week since the swell ended and still that deep seated, sun blasted feeling of muscular fatigue remains. The lingering ache of exertion that goes all the way through the back and shoulders into the fibres in your face used for grinning.
It kicked off on the 2nd of January and didn’t stop till the 9th. A complete week filled with unseasonal amounts of good sized surf and rain that spat out the summer crud we had all been chewing on and paid some overdue homage to the east coast reefs and points.
Not that the leftovers of 2015 weren’t super fun, they were, in a typical summery fish and foamy, crowded type of way. It just simply hasn’t been the type of thing that gets the blood moving.
Truth be told, that type of surfing had become a bit of a distant memory. The type of nostalgic oily rag that keeps the wagon moving while the orange light of empty flashes back at you across the dashboard. Each passing day/week/month another milestone closer to the complete halt in need of resurrection.
Between conditions and commitments it had been that sort of year. Which is why one of my new years resolutions was to surf more.
So with the swell building in the afternoon of the 2nd of Jan, my friend Zeb and I, abandoned a short lived session at North Steyne in Manly for the nearby Winki reef. We arrived with the tide dropping and only a handful of crew out. Which on a holiday weekend, was practically a miracle in itself.
As the tide receded, the reef began to turn on with solid drops and barrelling pits on order. After fumbling a high line through the first barrel, the muscle memory began to kick in and we traded deep pit after deep pit until the horde and evening descended.
If redemption is defined as the action of saving or being saved. Then that first session at Winki was a redemption of sorts for the middling year before and paving the way for the days ahead.
As the swell oscillated between dropping, building, tempestuous, unruly and clean – we surfed. We surfed till we could surf no more and then surfed again. Like addicts following our vice, we returned to the reefs day after day and left high on stoke with the froth tank topped up a little more.
2nd reef Winki
It was intoxicating stuff with steep takeoffs, roll ins, draining barrels, slabs and long walls all on offer
Lone soldier at Deadmans
Deadmans Inside Slab
All this fun came with a cost – wipe outs, fatigue, broken boards, stitches, barnacle scrapes and very sketchy rock offs. With the eastern aspect of the swell, the normal safe jumps were being engulfed in white water.
We bore witness to one particularly horrible effort, where the surfer picked the worst time to do the Deadmans rock off and managed to get swept into the cleft between the rock off and the reef running down to Winki. Snapping his leash, it was uncomfortable viewing watching man and board being washed up the inside rocks and barnacles. Needless to say we were extra careful when our turn came round again.
See the head about to duck under the white wash?
Even the maritime police were in on the action - managing to turn one salvage job into two when they accidentally "rocked on" to the Queensie head land with their launch.
It all came to a crescendo on Friday morning the 8th of Jan. The size had become more manageable and the winds that had been prevalent South or South East, blew with a Westerly aspect. The beachies pumped and were about as good as they get.
A cylinder races at Narrabeen
Glassy and round - Narrabeen
By Saturday morning the body was broken, faith restored and froth tank full. Any resolutions would have to wait a bit longer - totally surfed out.
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.