Sup Surfing with Friends – Peer Pressured into Epicness
“Come on, you’re gonna get wet anyway,” one of my training partners and friends said as we were breaking away from the breakfast table at the Blockade Runner. It was the Sunday after the Cold Stroke Classic in Wrightsville Beach, NC. It was a grey, stormy morning. I was tired from the previous day’s activities that included racing the OC-1 seven miles then taking a short, two-mile fat tire bike ride on the sand. Staying warm and cozy inside with another cup of coffee was an attractive idea. Perhaps the better option.
“You know you want to.”
The activity in question: Surfing. I had the SIC Bully 10’6″ with me. I wanted to take it out for it’s first foray into the ocean, yes but…one word: neoprene.
Four millimeters of it.
It takes at least 20 minutes for me to get into the kit required to endure our winter water, which ranges in the 50s this time of year. And that is just to get into it. That 20 minutes does not include unloading the board, rigging it and huffing it to the water. And that’s 20 minutes to get out of it too. So the fun to neoprene wrestling ratio needs to be high to make it worth it.
So the rain wasn’t helping.
But I am going to get wet anyway.
The words echoed.
And…I did bring the board all the way down here and it deserves to have at least a little go in the water.
And it was warm. The air temperature was in the 60’s.
Okay, okay. I got into my Virus Stay Warm base layers. I did the 20-minute neoprene dance in the rain. I got soaked.
I huffed my board to the beach.
Now, when you stay at the Blockade Runner, there is a narrow beach access path that runs along the south side of the hotel that allows you to get to the water without having to traipse through the hotel lobby with your board and paddle. I made my way down the path, grateful that I was carrying the shorter board, and not the 14 foot Bullet. Or my heavier soft top surfboard. When you access the beach this way, you can’t really see the water until you are just about at the end of the little trail.
When I got there, already wet, already sweating in the unbearable thickness of rubber, and saw what was awaiting me in the water, I immediately knew I’d made the right decision.
Rollers. Nicely formed. Breaking a ways outside, not on the inside sandbar.
This was going to be a good day.
There were several sup surfers on the north side of the hotel, some shortboard surfers to the south, and another couple of sup surfers on the other side of them. I watched the break, looked for the rip and headed out. The guys to my left immediately waved when I got in the water. My buddies Worth and Mark. Not long after that, Sarah joined us. Then Haywood.
The session that followed was epic.
The waves were so nicely formed, large enough to be challenging for the novice that I am, but soft enough to not thrash us in the shore break. It was the perfect day to practice. To learn. Both Worth and Haywood offered suggestions that were immediately helpful and appreciated. From the first wave I caught that day, I knew this was going to be one of those sessions that I would be remembering and thinking about for days to come.
But not so much because of the conditions. Yes, it was pretty amazing to be surfing in light rain and fog. And in the unseasonable warm air temps in January.
Not, it was the camaraderie. Seeing how much progress Worth has made since the surfing bug bit him last year. Watching Mark effortlessly glide over the water, seeing the smiles on Sarah’s face, and watching Haywood, a style master on the waves…laughing, cheering each other on…catching party waves together. Sharing the experience with good friends, friends who have come together because of their love of the water and their love of learning.
Mark caught a wave in and got his camera, in an underwater housing, to document our session. All of the photos here are his, and several were taken by Worth with Mark’s rig.
Yet again, sitting on top of my board and looking around, I cannot help but think that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. Again.
I get to share these times with some wonderful people who are family to me.
And to think, I almost let a little rain stop me from catching some great waves, improving my surf skills and most importantly, having time together with these folks.
We were out there for a couple of hours and then sadly it was time to go. There was, after all a two and a half hour drive back to Raleigh to make. By this time, the rain had stopped. Getting out of the wetsuit and into dry clothes wasn’t really a problem….any difficulty was overshadowed by the elation I was feeling.
It was clear that the ratio of fun to gearing up struggle was more than just right.
The moral of this story, if there is one, is that when you have an opportunity to spend time doing something you love with people that you love, take it.
Even if it’s raining.