I don’t mean to impose, but I am the Ocean

I don’t mean to impose, but I am the Ocean

On Thursday just gone (29th September), 2m of swell with an 11 second period and a SW direction rolled in.

Fistral was about head and a half high, and in such warm weather, very well subscribed. So there was only one thing for it: Fluffers!

A view you wouldn't want from in front of those rocks

Smiler and I predicted Fluffers would be breaking with the tide being so low at 0.1m. We paddled out into the wide and not so deep blue using the usual rip as a conveyer belt, and sure enough Fluffers was humping in at double overhead height.

For those who aren’t familiar, this extra size is due to the steep ramping effect of the reef down there which goes from about 30ft to 10ft in quite a short distance. The water gets piled up and up and then it pushes over an even shallower part and then the wave explodes with always surprising force.

James 'Smiler' Waters steps into an empty lift shaft

Double overhead waves at Fistral can give you quite a slap, but the wipeout soon subsides. Fluffers at that size is just breaking but as Smiler discovered when he received what was in his own words ‘the biggest hammering I’ve had all year’ (and there have been some!) it is just a completely different animal.

This day, our good friend Céline Collaud (check out her webby at www.eventjam-ltd.com and give her a holler if you want a kick ass event sorting) came and grabbed some photos and so recorded Smiler’s wipeout. We had a few waves under our belts before Céline arrived, but no photos of them so you’ll have to take me at my word!

And finally hits the ground. Ah, surface tension, my old friend!

What is interesting is not the size of the wave, but the intensity of Smiler’s wipeout. He explained that he got drilled down, it went dark, started to go light again as he came up, then before he broke the surface, he was sucked down again. When Smiler finally came back up, it was just in time to get another one on the head. So just a second or two away from a two wave hold down on what you would call a 6ft day. Crikey!

Fortunately Smiler has lungs like blast furnace bellows and the experience required to remain calm and conserve the energy required for a sprint paddle away from the rocks of doom on the inside and was back out to snag another wave to redress the balance.

One proper hiding later, the real work begins.

I’m just so surprised that this place can deal out such a kicking when it looks relatively innocent.

Key learning points then?

1. Never goad the waves during the lulls – the ocean will hear and you will be smoten!
2. Pick your battles carefully when Fluffers gets bigger.
3. Look after your lungs kids!

Really though, a 2m swell and a 9ft board, it does seem a touch bigger doesn't it?

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