Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Can You Smell It?"

90% of my entire surfing career has taken place on Nantucket. The same break, at the end of the same dirt road, filled with the same friends, year after year. Needless to say, out in the water, it's more of a locker room than a surf line up. Everyone poking fun at each other, quoting stupid movies, trying to recap the previous night, but most importantly, looking to be the first to spot the next wave. This "style" of surfing has also developed its own kind of language, such as a "tasty nugget" for a good wave, "its going off" to describe an epic day, or my personal favorite "smelling" a good wave. Smelling a good wave happens when its flat for a while until someone claims they "smell" a good wave on the horizon. Its absolutely ridiculous but sometimes, when the stars align, that ridiculous statement is immediately followed by the wave of the day.
Well it was just one of those days, the water never felt so good, The sky so blue, but most importantly the waves were just epic. Pizza point, otherwise know as "secret spot" was going off, and there was just 6 of us in the water. Each of us not only from different countries, but from different continents, previously knowing each other for a mere 36 hours. However, to add to the quality of the day the previous 36 hours of knowing each other, felt more 36 years. Rambunctious, loud, and hilarious are the most appropriate adjectives to describe this "squad" of surfers. Joel the 14yr old fearless Aussie, would take off any wave even if he had no chance of making it and then, once he popped up from under the water, would yell "did you see that thrashing, it was insane." (Later that week he broke his board) Javier, from Spain, who was constantly fighting off last nights hangover, was grinning ear to ear with his "Vieno" stained teeth. Putu our local surf guide, who never gave us a straight answer, (when we first me him he told us he was still learning. False, he ripped) he even said he had never seen it this good. And finally, Derek and me, who took turns yelling at each other "can you believe were in Bali, this is amazing." Bruce Brown said it best, the most epic days are when its just you and your buddies in the water trading off on waves that were "gangbusters." This session was so fun and perfect, I found myself feeling as comfortable as I am surfing on Nantucket, and decided (during a long flat period) to "smell" a big wave." This line could have been received two ways. Either they thought I was nuts or they would love it. I mean smelling waves its kind of insane. Well lucky for me they remained my friends because, they absolutely loved it Putu was like, "What? You smell a big wave." I just looked at him and was like yea, and next thing we knew a monster rolled in and wiped out all of us.That session at Pizza Point was not our biggest session in Bali, but it was definitely the most fun. We all spent the rest of the day "smelling" the next wave.

Later that week, Saranghaung was pumping. An easy double overhead plus (12 to 14ft faces). It was huge, the line-up was packed, and everybody was rather intense, being that these massive waves were breaking over razor sharp reef in only 3ft of water. The object of this day was to pick the right wave, and make it, because if you didn't….well then you were going to spend a lot of time underwater. To say the least, there was a feeling of anxiety in everyone's faces, or so I thought. About 2 hours into our session it just went flat, but on a day like this "flat" is scary because all it means is that a massive set is looming in the water, waiting to have its hay day on all the surfers. Everyone was silent just staring out at the horizon. The only noise was of each surfer bobbing in and out of the water, waiting, trying to spot the outside bomb that was building in the deep water. Then from behind me I heard this paddling, which was followed by "Hey Justin, you smell that." In my head I was like "Putu, shut up everyone is gonna look at us like we're kooks, smelling the waves....not here not now" well this "riskay" line actually ignited the lineup with laughter, almost like a sigh of relief from the intense surf session. About 2 minutes later a huge wave came through, no one was prepared and it washed me and about 40 other people half way to shore. When we all finally made it back out, one indo guy asked Putu, "Why didn't you smell that one?" Putu shrugged, they laughed and obviously the rest of the day again was spent "smelling" waves. It was truly amazing how one phrase, can transform a scary day of surf, into a silly day in the water just with way bigger waves. Resembling what I love, or anyone loves most about there home wave, and finding it all the way in Bali. Just about every day!

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