Posted by: smithdavid | September 23, 2012

The Perfect Line

The mini-mal is lying face down in Le Sport surf shop. One of the attendants is kneeling over her, tinkering. When he first took her out the bag he looked at all the cracks and dings and felt her weight in his hands for a while and then looked at me.

‘That bad?’ I asked. He smiled.

While he’s busy Tim and I are looking at new boards. I feel unfaithful – the mini-mal and I have been through a few things together. She’s been good to me.

I pick a 9 footer off the rack – she’s slick and new and weighs less than the shorter mini-mal. I’m thinking how much easier it would be to paddle out with this board. But I’m also thinking about the lightness I feel since the move from Ireland caused me to pare down my possessions.

‘Think if I was buying again, I’d get a short board,’ says Tim, ‘easier to paddle out…’ For a while I’m thinking that all that ails my surfing is the fact that I’m too tired to paddle for waves when I get out back and that I’ll be fine on a short board because you can dive under waves. But the realist in me knows that this is self-deception.

i think maybe if i had a short board i would surf like this guy. but i know it’s self deception

After a while the fin is secured back in the mini-mal. They won’t take payment so I buy a pair of trunks. We start talking about new boards and I make a half arrangement to try one out in the morning.

I’m still looking for a robey to use for changing. We walk across the road to The Bay Surf Shop. I’ve got what I need in no time but Tim is loitering in the back room where the boards are kept. Before I know it a discussion on what board would be best for my level of surfing has started.

‘If money was no object…’ says the guy who’s helping us, pointing out a slick, white, fish tailed, sharp-nosed board.

‘It’s a brilliant board – I’ve got one,’ says Dave, the store owner, as he passes by. ‘In fact, you can try it out…’

Now I’m suited up and in the ocean. The light is starting to fade – on the other end of my leash is Dave’s 7’3” Super-Fish. We’re in shoulder deep – the fury that we encountered earlier in the day is spent and gentle 2 footers are re-forming where we stand.

2 footers reforming shoulder depth under a pink sky…

Despite the aches in my body, I turn and paddle for one. This board glides like Tim’s does for a while and then I feel the pull. I get my body up as quickly as I can and now I’m just ahead of the wave. A small shift in weight pushes the board one way. I shift again and the board follows – it’s like she’s in tune with movements of my body. I remember the belligerence that it took to steer the mini-mal. I shift a few more times and she follows – there is a broad grin on my face.

‘How it going?’ someone asks. It’s Dave from the surf shop, out for a surf after work. I smile and he laughs – he knows what’s going to happen when I return the board to the shop in the morning.

I don’t get up quickly on every wave. But when I do it’s like the board, with little input from me, finds the perfect line on which to glide. Time after time I turn and paddle back into the pink dusk thinking – this’ll be the last. But it’s too good when I’m up on that board.


  1. Dave,

    Sounds like a match made in heaven. Hope you got the board.

    Also, love that pic of the surf under the pink sky.



    • thanks tom. thanks also for the consistent ‘following’ – helps keep me going…dave

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