Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#13 Checking the Waves

Over the course of a surfers’ lifetime, countless hours are logged in the pursuit of riding waves. Checking the waves is an essential part of that process, providing a mental litmus test of conditions that should ideally be met prior to paddling out and getting wet.  Never satisfied with the status-quo Wilbur breaks, surfers often scour the coast in search of the best conditions possible in a feeble attempt to appease their ravenous, never-ending wave riding addictions.  Like masquerading Magnum PI’s (glasses included, overflowing chest hair optional), surfers are always on the prowl to score the best waves they can.  If they should happen to stumble upon the holy grail of surfing perfection a la Endless Summer, definitely be prepared for an earful of surfing embellishments.  After all, they went to the ends of the earth (…most just went down the street) to find quote unquote “pumping” surf; it had to pay off, right??

Surfers can be quite the temperamental bunch when they haven’t scored any surf for a while.  Perhaps it’s the fact that the human body is predominantly 70% water that gives surfers that fish out of water feeling. Or maybe it’s that nagging uncertainty that other more fortunate surfers are scoring epic waves in some far off part of the world while they sit idly by waiting for scraps.  Whatever the case may be, the cranky, erratic behavior exhibited by a surfer during a flat spell is a sight for sore eyes indeed.  Often found congregating in parking lots and seaside vistas up and down the coast, surfers scan the horizon like a pack of hungry wolves ready to attack the slightest mushy morsel.  As conditions of lake-like proportions drag on, it is not uncommon to see surfers stare out into the flat abyss with a cult like fanaticism beaming in their eyes.  It’s almost as if they watched the movie “The Secret” one too many times and are now convinced they can manifest a wave or two to roll in in order to harness their mindsurfing destiny.  Lo and behold, right about the same time when insanity starts to creep in, a surfer within earshot will exit the water and proudly ramble; “Awww mannn, it was just nice to get in the water, ya know!” ……Can you say “One way ticket to Indo, please!”

Surfers spend a good amount of time in their surf roving mobiles checking the waves, chasing one swell to the next.  Driving along some of the most beautiful coastal corridors that nature has to offer, surfers often zone off in a quiet, hypnotic like trance to the sight of waves marching in.  Like man’s best friend eagerly wagging his tail and pressing his nose to the car window in slobbering elation, surfers are transfixed to the scintillating surf porn unveiling before their eyes.  Often tuned out to the idle chatter of their friends or spouse sitting shotgun and the red brake lights of cars quickly encroaching ahead, surfers’s minds are like malleable putty molded by the whims of the sea.  The surf imagery consumes the mind and body, taking precedence over all else.

Checking the waves in person these days is sooooo last season, haven’t you heard!!?  With just a click of the mouse, anyone with a pulse has an instant roadmap to all the best spots, tides, and optimal times to hit them up. Live streaming webcams of once coveted breaks blanket the web for all to see.  For better or worse, the advent of technology and its conveyor belt of surf reports is here to stay.  The niche websites that cater to surf reporting provide an invaluable service to the masses that exclusively rely on them for up-to-date surf conditions. In fact, surfers now have the luxury of planning their entire week around projected swells produced by storms that may not have even formed yet.  Outfitted with detailed long range forecasts that predict the arrival of swell down to the hour and handheld crackberry p.d.a’s that deliver reports with a few simple scrolls, surfers today have become quite the complacent lot. Unable or unwilling to check the waves the old fashioned way, many sessions go by largely unridden by the majority, left only to those surfers in the know.  The window of opportunity to score quality, uncrowded surf is vast for those surfers willing to open their eyes and put forth the time and effort to travel off the beaten path.  And as for those live streaming webcams- they’re not all bad really.  Seeing your favorite pro get spit out of a gaping barrel at Teuhupoo half a world away while chillin’ in your easy chair is pretty freaking cool!


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