Day twelve. Thursday. The penultimate days surfing of this two week trip to a location that is rapidly approaching somewhere I might describe as a slice of paradise. Considering that I'd been fairly battered and bruised, it wasn't really surprising that I didn't feel like my morning surf session went very well. The wind here had picked up over the last few days, especially during the morning, providing a stiff offshore breeze. This meant that waves would be 'held up' for a short while before breaking, allowing for steeper waves. With a larger swell that had crept up over the week, this meant waves with faces of about 8 ft, sometimes larger.
Paddling out in this was hard work. You would wait for a set of waves to pass you by, then paddle like crazy in the hope that you could make it out back before the next set arrived. In my case, this rarely happened and resulted in me being pummelled by multiple large walls of water and then having to try and limp out with depleted energy levels in the rather forlorn hope that I'd be able to avoid the inevitable third set of waves hitting me.
Eventually I did make it out back, thanks to a slightly longer lull in between sets, but even at this point, due to the strong wind, you were almost constantly having to paddle back up the beach and into the shore slightly to avoid being blown out of position and out to sea.
Despite all this energy expenditure I still attempted to catch some waves. Sadly, it wasn't long before disaster struck. A set of three waves arrived that looked promising. Shelley, one of the guests who had been here for two weeks like myself, paddled for the first wave but failed to catch it. I paddled for the slightly more promising second wave, but also failed to catch it. At this point the fates intervened. As I turned to paddle back out I realised I was pretty much at the point where the third wave was going to break (i.e. a large amount of water was about to fall on my head). I made the decision to go into what is called 'the safety position' to ride out the storm. Unfortunately for me, Shelley had decided to paddle for this wave, and pretty much caught it. Neither of us was aware of the other one, and as such Shelley collided with me while my head floated just above the waters surface. As a result, I took what is technically called 'a board to the face' and now look something like this:
This could have been a lot worse than it is, so I've once again escaped danger!
At this point, I could have easily limped back to shore to lick my wounds, but instead I chose to valiantly struggle on and paddled back out. In hindsight, this turned out to be quite a good thing (as I shall shortly explain) but at the time, I was tired had just been hit in the head by a board and my mood was not great.
After a short wait, I finally found a wave I could catch, and catch it I did. I did a perfectly angled take off to trim down the face of the wave, but sadly in popping up, my body rotation went a little too far. This put me ever-so-slightly off balance, which I attempted to correct for by doing a small carve turn and moving my weight around. It proved to be too little too late and I ended up bailing. There is a good video of this which I wanted to add in here, but sadly the file I currently have has sound (mostly wind) but no video. This will have to wait, I guess.
After the bail I was tumbled around and swept quite a way into the shore. I once again got on my board to paddle out, but my mood had deteriorated with the bail. The final straw came with my leash wrapping itself around my legs while turtle rolling. I'd had enough and went back to the beach to sulk.
The instructors were sympathetic and Harry explained that he had lost count of the number of times that he had stormed out of the surf in a bad mood. After watching the video later in the morning for analysis, which had actually showed that I'd done pretty much everything perfectly, he also pointed out that two weeks ago, I was happy to get up on the board and that now I was chasing waves that were bigger than me and getting angry when I bailed on them. This was a very valid point and cheered me up no end.
After this, I decided that the afternoon was going to be mine and that I was going to nail every wave I went for. This attitude was helped by having a very, very good massage (my first ever proper massage) that not only took a lot of the tension out of my shoulders and neck but also helped to work out some of the pain and stiffness that I had been suffering from in my ribs. This left me nicely limber for the afternoon surf session.
The wind had died somewhat by the time we reached the beach, making life a little easier, but the waves were still breaking big and brash. With my new found positive mental attitude, I caught a wave, paddled out again (again tired from it), caught a second wave and went into the beach for a break. I did bail on these waves, but that was OK as I'd caught them.
After catching my breath for 10 minutes I once more struggled out through the breaks to go again. I got back out to be told there was time for one more wave. I was determined to make it a good one and that's what it turned out to be! I caught a nice 6 to 7 foot face, angled the take off, rode down the face and popped up in time for the rest of the wave to catch up to me. I then proceeded to ride the wave the entire way into the beach, maintaining the perfect functional stance the whole way, arms stretched out to either side of me, with my weight shifting back and forward in response to the wave. For the first time in two weeks, I felt like I was actually in control of the board, rather than being taken for a ride by it!
As a way to end an excellent days surfing, the evening meal was once again in La Garta Lodge, the restaurant from last week with the panoramic view. This time however, we were there before sunset with time to spare and as a result, I was able to get some stunning photos, a sample of which I shall now share with you.
And thus I end a really good day with this post. Actually written on the day it happened! Hope some of you enjoy it!