1988 bitches. Back in the day. God I hate that expression cuz it is usually coming out of the mouth of someone born in the 90′s. Anyway…
Me and my main man Hugh “Giant Hairy Testicle” Coyle were stuck in Perth after the worst trip in history. (I’ll go there in another entry.) We flew all the way to the west coast of Australia to stay with friends. So we are in Perth, aka: Australia’s version of Virginia Beach, with such rotten-crotch hideous options such as Trig Point, Scarborogh or even Cottelsloe to choose from, we thought we made a huge mistake. The days long misery was broken up by car shopping and a trip to some beach where a recent storm left the lineup a chowder of churned seaweed. It was onshore and large, but we were gonna fucking surf. My first wave I fell and literally got trapped beneath the seaweed. I came about as close to drowning as you really ever want to. All I could think was, “What the fuck are we doing here?”
A quick trip to Rottnest soothed our surflust for a minute. Then a trip to Lancelin with the family we were staying with found us sharing the lineup with our friend Steve, who was wearing sluggos and riding a goatboat. The waist high wind swell reminded me of my trip to South Florida, or as I call it, Hell. Nice flies though. Plenty too. Sweet.
We invented a game of called “Go to the City and Get Drunk All Day.” We practiced hard and concentrated on perfecting it. We often found ourselves following any girl who would speak to us to any party we could go to. On one evening, a few fellas commented that we were really stupid. Which I was aware of since I still hadn’t caught any waves better than home yet. He told us that three hours south was Margaret River. It had big surf. He also said that Perth has the worst waves in Australia. No shit Sherlock.
So we hit the road in our Holden Wagon saying c-ya to our lovely hosts in Perth. In three hours we would be ball deep in pits, mutherfuckers! Except our Holden only ran for about an hour before requiring a couple hour cool-down. There are Sunshine House stickers all over everything exactly at 100km intervals between Perth and Margaret River. We arrived basically a day later. Sweet.
We arrived for a strange patch of onshore and everything from HUGE to tiny surf. Luckily the area is set up to handle it all. We surfed a lot despite everyone else laying about complaining about no surf. We also spent a lot of time on the side of the road waiting and smoking weed with Allen, the local car repair guy.
The reason everyone was so lethargic was that the surf gets big in the area. Often. So everyone rests between swells and good wind. Needless to say, we were shocked the first time we rolled up to Margarets and saw it really doing its thing. What a site. Wow. It is a really beautiful spot and the reef was going mental. A handful of guys were out getting sick pits.
I was waiting in the line at the shitter with all of the over-adrenalized surf-bots. When I got through I saw that Andy, one of the self proclaimed “Hattie-Hats” (don’t ask cuz I don’t know) was already paddling out. My plan to procrastinate and spread doubt until we drove off in search of less massive waves was killed. Andy was already halfway out and Simon was suiting up. Hugh “The Sockless Wonder” Coyle looked at me with that defeated look of inevitability and started suiting up. My stomach dropped and I had to make that horrible decision, go out and get killed or stay here and be everyone’s winghing poofter at the hostel?
I figured the more I thought about it the worse it would be. I suited, waxed, ran down the steps and paddled out as fast as I could. I have used this method of thoughtless pursuit of larger surf ever since that day. I go right to the spot and catch the first wave I see and ride it as far in as possible. It settles my nerves. And allows me to see the scene better. If I sit and see waves, I just freak out and psych myself out.
So that is exactly what I did. I caught a small one right off the bat. It was way larger than anything I had ever ridden and I don’t remember ridding it, just looking up at the lip and doing the “Adolph Straightoff” into the channel. I sat on my board and my smile broke onto my face. I actually enjoyed it and wanted another.
As I paddled back out I saw a real set building. Everyone was caught off guard and they all were scrambling like cockroaches in the kitchen out the back. This was all to the cries of “Out the back!” Which I had never heard before and thought was super cool. At the last second a guy swung around, gave a couple quick paddles and dropped like a stone down the face. I had the best view and I screamed as loud as I could as the whitewater exploded behind him. When it cleared and he bottom turned, I looked down the face from the top of the shoulder and saw that it was Hugh “Fucking-A Right I’m Going On This One” Coyle.
That site that is forever burned into my memory, and truly one of the best experiences in my surfing life.