In Smiling People I interview people with interesting life concepts (Stay tuned for the first release on next Friday (4th Oct) . One question I ask is “What feeling do you like most about surfing?”. Because I think there is an almost poetic feeling to it, I want to take the time to give an impression on how I feel while surfing.
In the morning I walk along the sand and feel the cold everywhere. I’m happy I made it into the still moist wetsuit, on the other hand I hate myself for it. It is so cold. I hear the waves breaking, like they are looking to find my bones. I can’t see the sun behind the dunes yet, and I just miss my bed. On the edge of the water I bend down to put on my leash, the sound of velcro rips through the morning air. The first water touches my toes. Damn, it is so cold. I force myself to walk into the water, motivated by the person that just surfed a wave right in front of me. The wetsuit protects me from the cold water at first and I take a deep breath. A few moments later the first big wave hits me in stomach. I lay on the board to start paddeling out, the water pulls through my fingers, my arms tell me I should be in bed. I dive under the next wave. As I open my eyes underneath I can see the white strings from the water rushing over me. I get spit out to the surface and take another breath. I’m awake.
I start paddling almost at full speed towards the next already broken wave, that waits with one meter of white water me. I dive down again. I look around and see nothing but water with foamlayer on top, from the already broken waves around me. Another duck dive. My arms start hurting, but I know I have to paddle. I try to synchronize my breathing to my paddling. Another duck dive, that pulls me back the distance, that I just paddled. The cold has gotten through my wetsuit and my motivation shrinks. It feels like I shouldn’t be out there. After the next duck dive I can feel the spray, the little bits of water hit me, as the wave brakes behind me. I made it.
I position myself between the other surfers and sit up on my board. I can feel the wind, the water is playing around my legs and the sun made it over the dune. The other surfers look content, that they in the water, we all feel the same, but everybody is listening to nature. The waves are making moving hills in front of me and I start reading them, estimating where they are going to break. I sit for a while and then I see one. It builds up and it looks like it is going to destroy me – Perfect. I turn around quickly, start to paddle, put my chin and shoulders down to get weight to the front of my board. My arms stroke deep under my board and I go full power. I feel the wave pulling me back and building up like it wants to breath in air. One more paddle and I press my hands down and jump up.
I’m not thinking anymore I’m flowing, almost flying over the face of the wave. My moves feel at peace while I hear the brutal sound right behind me. I look up to the comb of the wave and go up to it. I look back to the wave, apply pressure with my back foot and drive back to the part that breaking. I flow for two second longer, and then the wave breaks in front of me as well. I stand for a moment and then I let myself fall in the water.
My legs are over me, my body gets pulled into every direction. I don’t fight the washing machine to keep my energy. The wave rolls on and I start to figure out where the surface is and swim up, while cover my head. I scramble to get on my board. Smiling involuntarily I paddle again to duck dive. It was worth it and I want to do it again.
Even though surfing in Europe is rough and the waves aren’t as consistent, I love it because it feels raw and unpolished, like you have to form a relationship with the force of nature. This year I was lucky to go to Sri Lanka for 1.5 months where the actual surfing feels the same, but the surroundings are very different to France or Spain. Below are pictures of better waves from the area of Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.