January 26, 2012
Riding the whitewater on my stomach, I leaned left towards the rocky point of Steamer Lane. Rolling off my board ten feet from the rocks, I landed in waist deep water and felt my way towards the shore. Scrambling out of the water, I ripped the Velcro leash off my right ankle and wrapped it around the board haphazardly. Following the route of the handful of surfers in front of me, I climbed and jumped between the boulders until reaching the stairs. From there, it was a foot race along the sidewalk towards back towards the point.
Trailing the other surfers I stopped my light jog at the Syncro, and dropped my board in the grass. Fight against light. Rushing to pull off my wetsuit down to the waist, I popped open the sliding door and grabbed my Olympus XA from the center console. Its analog dial read 17, meaning that there were still 20 or so exposures left in the roll. Equipped to rip.
A set rolled through the lineup and with a distant crash the ground shook and the crowd of onlookers cheered their approval. Their hoots continued and, based on the continuous grinding of the wave, I assumed some lucky surfer was getting a great ride all the way back to the rocks that I had climbed out of. The kind of ride that end up as people’s Facebook profile pics. Slamming the door, I followed the ant-like trail of running surfers along the sidewalk towards the point.
Holding the camera strap in my mouth, I climbed over the fence and headed towards the group of surfers waiting their turn to jump back in. By now the sun was a half circle on the horizon, giving the surfers an added sense of purpose. This combined with some exceptional waves rolling in had them talking in two-word sentences and grunts.
One after another, the surfers jumped the 10 feet or so off of the point into the water and paddled back into position. Each wave advanced the cycle.
Standing in my dripping wetsuit, I snapped shots and wound the film with the thumb wheel. A good winter swell at Steamer Lane is one of those things you will never forget.
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