This sequence is about five minutes long, at quarter framerate slowmo which means it amounts to, all in, what was only about seventy five seconds of my life. I want to tell you about that seventy five seconds. It was a minute and fifteen where everything I am as a kayaker, everything I know about doing it, my physical condition, my timing, the whole kit and caboodle was called into play.
I get to test this amphibious machine that I've spent all this time building. Part man part rotomoulded plastic and carbon fibre, and I get to put it all up against mother ocean whom, it would seem, is none too happy with me this fine Sunday. She's had me swimming once by now and upside down so many time I've lost count. Three to four feet was advertised. I've bitten it on a few pushing eight by now and there's monsters about. Seen them bearing their teeth way out back. Ten footers easy. And meat in them.
I was back in the soup, chatting to a guy who turned out to be from my home town of Falkirk. He was paddling a surf slipper and finding it hard going. I was glad I'd brought the longboat. He told me he wished he'd brought his. By this time both of us had tried to punch out only to be beaten back by long, five and seven wave sets, getting a hold of you and back flipping or broaching you back to the beach.
Suddenly I saw a gap open up. Game time! I went for it. Never even said goodbye to the slipper pilot. No time. Just dig down, punch over the debris of a tail ender and leg it. Straight out. Heart pumping, blood singing, the roar of the break everywhere, deafening yet strangely tranquil white noise. I love it. It's the nearest thing I have to a theme tune.
Clear the spray. Funny little peaker ahead. He's got a bit of bite in the middle but I'd clear him no probs, even he wasn't running out right, toward me, which he was. His big brother, tho, he's got a couple of feet of shorebreak attitude. Even rears up when I get close and bares his teeth, all attitude. Yeah, right. Four foot high in his socks. These little bastards can mess you up if they get you side on and take you for a long bongo but I'm coming straight in like a motherfucken exocet.
I smash a hole in his lip like a cage fighter going to town on a primary school kid. Grab some air and then drop into a sneaky little aftershock, bit of grunt required to keep the pace on, cos I've seen the next one by now. Lip curled in a snarl off to the right, looks like it's still running out this way but I don't want to chance it. YOMP!!!
Sure enough it ran out and left an easy wave but that was just the warmup event. Every set that comes in, comes in with a pattern of waves. They'll push a couple of warmup waves your way then an odd number (I've read it's always odd. Dunno if it's true but I've never noticed an even set before) of main set waves. This chap in front of me? Nope, he's just the last of the welcome party, twice the wave his little brothers and sisters were before but still just an adolescent in the grand scheme of things. YOMP HARDER!!!
As I clear the lip I catch sight of his mammy and she's got mean and muscle and attitude all in spades. She means me harm. CHARGE!!! Twenty feet away and she starts snarling at me, her face pristine, flawless, majestic. Like a cliff face, made of water. It's going to be close. If that pocket of energy, when it comes burning along the wave, like an incendiary fuse. If I'm not clear when that reaches me then BOOM!
I'm momentarily aware that I'm paddling vertically, punching the lip just as it dumps and dropping my bow six or seven feet onto the back face. It's one of those - Dukes of Hazzard - "Yeeeha" moments. Grabbing air. I whoop, as I'm digging in deep and fighting to regain forward momentum. Her sister is bearing down on me. Mean seems to run in the family. One does not simply stop for a breather in the impact zone. KEEP YOMPING!!!
PLF? : Check
JIT LIP? : Check
AIR? : Check
Breather? ... Negative... MONSTER!!!
Looks like daddy is here. Daddy is big and menacing but, compared to Uncle Trevor, charging in behind him, he's a pussycat. Trevor is badass. Just got out of jail, doing a stretch for GBH and looking to upgrade that to murder and if I stay where I am he's going to pummel the fuck out of me a rearrange my skeleton into a whole bunch of quickfire poses that resemble modern art. ATTACK TREVOR!!!
Pause the clip at 04:19. I'm paddling uphill. The big bulge I'm on is a shockwave, going back up the face, from the impact on the seabed a good ten feet or so below me. It's headed up toward that lip, rising up five or six feet above me. It's going to make it bigger. Hang on in there. Dig deep. PADDLE!!!
I was pretty safe by the time I crossed the top. I had a good second or two in the bag but if I'd got snagged by one of the waves before, even just a little bit. If I'd lost just that little bit of speed, if I'd met him half a dozen paddle strokes ago, he'd have beaten me senseless. I'd have been back on the beach having a deja-vu conversation with the guy from Falkirk again.
Relax. One more wave. Aftershock from the monster. Lot of meat on her bones. Packing a punch. Going to do some damage when she gets in shore a bit but I'm clear. Take a breather. Get ready to chase one of these bad boys back in so I can do it all again. Had some good runs on Sunday but this is the seventy five seconds, stretched to five minutes that stuck in my head. I love my gopro when I get clips like this. When I watch it on the bigscreen, it feels like I'm back there. That seventy five seconds of my life. That'll last me hours, days, maybe even weeks.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6WOYWeRXV0