Thursday, December 29, 2011

Breaking the board...

It’s a surfer’s worst nightmare, especially if you only have one. It doesn’t matter if you snap it clean in two or get a few dings and cracks in it. Breaking a surfboard, getting a ding in any way, breaking the intricate and wholly perfect design of the thing that keeps you afloat on the waves is a downer. Especially if you only have one board. And you have an amazing swell raging in the water.

If you really like surfing, you connect with your board and depend on it on this reciprocal level. It becomes an extension of you, and riding on anything else seems like going backwards. If you learn on a board, you know it so well, what it can (and can’t) do on the waves, its points of strength and weakness. I know most surfers have a few different boards in their quiver, but when you have only one, breaking it can shoot your confidence.
For me, going out and seeing a 6-8ft swell only seemed like an amazing chance to go out and really put myself to the test. I know I had a waaay too big board and I know the waves were so dumpy and vicious, that not getting hurt would mean a cardboard box top would be the only appropriate thing to ride on. But I went out, got stirred around in the waves, and made it out from the dragging swell – but my board didn’t. The nose kind of got cracked and split. Not good.

This is my third ding, so I am past the point of trying to fix it. It’s a great board, but money wise, not worth repairing...again.

After being sad for a good couple of hours, and sitting on the beach to console myself, I realised something. Buying another board, something smaller that would propel and excel my surfing had been on my mind for quite a while. I just put my dream of getting the perfect surfboard, which was an extension of me, down to a sheer wish list. I thought I’d practise away on this board, and then contemplate a new board after Hawai’i. And I wanted something amazing, a love-at-first-sight thing!

After breaking this board for the third time (unlucky), I realised that all this superstition was telling me something; I wanted to improve, I had put my heart and soul mentally and spiritually into being better, and physically started to tone up and take care of myself in order to surf better, but I was still riding something that my newfound abilities had outgrown. I was still trying to be better on a board that was limiting me, purely because it was limited. A surfboard, unlike a human, does not change, grow and mould into something better. It serves the purpose of the wave, the water, the surfer, the ability and its structure. It cannot go beyond itself.

But we as surfers, can go beyond ourselves. As my mum put it ”It’s an expensive sport”, but one in which each board, surfer and wave are matched perfectly. A different swell, a different board, a different day, surfer and board are married together and set out into the sunrise or (sunset).

So sometimes we have to say goodbye to one thing, and move on to, in my case, smaller and faster. I had my problems with turning on my 7’6” Epoxy, and it was a nightmare to get through on the incoming waves. In a lot of ways, it was hindering my performance when I already had the ability to do better. If breaking the board wasn’t a sign I needed a change, a step forward, I don’t know what was. Sometimes life is trying to tell us we can do better, but we hold on and stay modest, thinking we need to be better ourselves. Sometimes you need a push, or a break in the right direction.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, two beautiful fibreglass boards were lying on my balcony. A 7’6” and a 7’2”. In the name of progression, I will go with the 7’2”. And she is the most beautiful board I have ever seen!

Written by SoulSurfer © 29 December 2012 at 12.21pm


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