Here’s a video put together by Kyle Thiermann of Surfing for Change, which lays out the proposed plan for a nuclear power plant in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Us surfers know Jeffreys as pointbreak valhalla. As if the Fukushima disaster wasn’t enough to make us sit up and take notice, imagine one of the World’s best and most pristine surf spots off limits due to radioactive contamination. This video provides lots of good food for thought. Seriously folks, it’s up to you, me, him and her. It shouldn’t take Kelly Slater being engaged and involved to motivate us, but if that’s what it takes then so be it. Change can be good. Change can be vital. Either way, it’s inevitable. The nature of that change is up to us more than we realize.
More specifically, surfing and my birthday. And the thing about them is that they never occur together, at least for me. Heading into my 22nd year of surfing (my eyes did just bug out at that number when I did the math), I have never, ever surfed on my birthday. It’s not for lack of trying.
Every year, leading up to the big day — the only winter day I would gladly trade a perfect summer’s day for — I start checking the charts. And every year, to my dismay, it shows crap for waves. Take today for instance. Check out OCsurfcam.com (if you’re checking this TODAY, obviously). See! The waves are anemic; maybe good for messing around if the water was warm. Oh, and by the way, that’s my photo on OCsurfcam — the same one pictured above. I took that on a solid day in early November.
I suppose the thing I can’t grasp is the cosmic imbalance of having 22 chances — actually I’ll say 20 chances since I didn’t surf in winter the first couple of years — and never having even a chest-to-head-high day all to myself at some quiet sandbar. I mean, what else would be the prime birthday treat for oneself?
Then I start to rationalize it. And here is where I pray to the surf gods to keep things just as they have been. I consider all of the surf trips I’ve been on and gotten waves. In obvious places, in weird places, off-season, on-season. My traveling luck has been obscene. Fearing I may jinx it if I say more, I’ll say no more. And of course there are the holidays. What better way is there to give thanks than with a good Thanksgiving surf session? Been there, done that, many a time. Christmas morning? Check. July 4th barrels in Maine with my buddy, Matt — barrels in Maine are an unlikely scenario if ever there was one — and a drive home that turned into a mobile fireworks show. Memorial Day and Labor , battling the rubber-armed swarms that are getting their first or last waves of the year. Halloween, where the hardest of locals pull up to the beach wearing the stupidest of outfits. And all of those holidays, at one point or another, had been blessed with good waves.
Heck, I’ve surfed on girlfriend’s birthdays — scored great waves about a dozen years ago at a semi-secret barrel in New Jersey on my exe’s happy day. I got the longest barrels of my life that day while she worked, so I was at least equally happy, and probably more stoked.
And I start considering the runs of great surf I’ve had at home, especially that one summer in the mid nineties when I surfed 16 days straight, and 23 out of 24 days — every day was good to excellent too — in New York.
Finally I reconsider my birthday pity party, and I think about how damn glad I am to be 36 years old today and still capable of surfing as well as I ever have. I might be getting on in years, but at least I can still handle the good days when they come my way. Even if they don’t ever fall on my birthday.
Here’s Aaron Powell again (see the shaping video and surfing image below), getting the most out of a decent little swell at Courts on Oahu’s south shore. It’s really cool to to see how much effort goes into completing each turn, and also how much distance Aaron covers on his skinny, finless wooden blade. Even though Aaron makes it look easy, according to him, learning to well on these things is hard as hell. Well Aaron, looks like you’re mastering the art quite well.