Ride on by

It’s was a hot summer’s day. She lay there glistening in the midday sun, her curves incredibly inviting. It would be another six months before we first touched. And when that day arrived, it was with frenzied passion that we rushed back to mine. I laid her down on the lounge room floor, fetched my little box of tricks and set to work: rubbing, cleaning, looking into her many holes. I almost couldn’t resist climbing right on and riding her without delay; but I managed to control my surging desires.

She is a beauty, a mid ’80s MR Fish Thruster, featuring original retro coloured stripes. After extensive repairs to her warped and battered body the day finally came when I could confirm the adage that “surfers do it standing up.”

Considering her age and the fact she had endured possibly five or more Sydney summers in baking sun. She was surprisingly buoyant. My first wave was an adventure, climbing up and down the face of a fun little spring right. I soon discovered she was all about fluid surfing, no sharp up and downs, real slow, intentional weight shifts and the rewards were plentiful. Her volume enabled long rides, through the foam to the shorey reform. And the lack of legrope made me feel somewhat naked; a sensation I rather enjoyed.

Over time the old MR got buried behind my chick’s giant pink minimal, a plethora of boardbags, old wax, wetties, my favourite underpants and some newer sticks.

It was winter once more and I was having a bad day. How bad? A hangover from hell brought back memories of an irate girlfriend screaming when I staggered into bed at 4.30am, Ned Kelly pie in hand (and smeared over parts of my body), amorous as hell. The coast was clear now, I vaguely remembered a slamming door and something about a family birthday. My left nut ached and my neck was stiff. Only one thing remained to do, so I switched on the PC, credit card in hand, looking for some light relief. The card was declined. Fuck. Checked the surfcams instead. Fuck.

That afternoon, after purchasing flowers and using my imagination, I decided to get out there despite the rain and cross shore dribble. Something inside inspired me to dig out the old MR and hobble down to the beach. The pain from the sore nut having now successfully spread to my right eye and left thigh.

I noticed the few raised eyebrows as I flopped my way into the line up. Whatever boys, talk to the face ‘cos the hand definitely aint listening. Or something or nothing.

Paddling out

On my first wave I experienced what I call a brash realisation. Something that snaps you out of your crusty world and reminds you why you bother at all. The wall reeled off to the right and instead of trying to turn into a big hack or pumping wildly to get speed I just looked down and watched the water racing beneath my feet. When last did you do that? It was like the first time all over again. I smiled and then laughed as I stepped off onto the sand.

The session only got better. Riding and old tank is like drinking with your best mate – no stress, no expectation, no bullshit;  just a happy vibe. During the course of the surf I found myself lining up some smooth, subtle arcs, a few cruisy little floaters and even, somehow, a brief cover up. All in waves that looked about as good as Manly does most of the summer.

Styling in slop

I was stoked. I could feel a rhythm creeping back into my soul. Just the opposite of the sometimes forced aggression that goes with modern surfing. Now I’m not going to start strumming a Donavon number, but I will say that next time you’re feeling all stressed out (or badly hungover) don’t get down. Grab that old log from under the pile (or go find one) and get back to basics. Watch the water as you ride on by.