Posted by: smithdavid | March 3, 2013


The rainbow fades as the spray from the wave crashing to the shore in front of me subsides. I’m in Kerry and it’s Easter and the sun is shining. I’ve made it out back and missed two waves and am wondering if the epic session I had on Matilda in Cork yesterday was a fluke.

There are surfers stretched out over about a 500 yard stretch. Inch Strand is a beach break and therefore the take-off point (the best place to catch a wave from) is constantly moving. The wind drags me eastwards across the sea for a while. I look up and see how groups of surfers have formed at certain points. It amazes me how the herd mentality applies to this sport which is supposed to be one of individuality and freedom. Something deep inside me is violently opposed to following the pack. And on a practical level, every time I have gone against my inner grain and joined the masses I’ve caught no waves. It’s always those times when I’ve let pure intuition guide me that I’ve had the best rides.

sometimes herd mentality...

sometimes herd mentality…

I paddle for a bit to maintain my position. The cross shore wind has messed the swell up somewhat and it’s difficult to pick waves out. But a line of swell jacks that I know I can make and who cares if someone who surfs more regularly than I would turn their nose up at it? I turn Matilda and make a few stokes and then I feel that pull again. I when I call on my body to pop up, it’s like the memory of every ungainly pop-up in the lounge in Ealing or the new apartment in Harrow or the lodge in Uttoxeter combines to propel my body to where it needs to be. Now I’m standing on Matilda and I know if I push my weight down on my left leg I will feel that split second of weightlessness again.  So I push and I feel it and I want to throw my arms into the spray-filled air.

The ride is short but the point has been proved. To myself mostly. All that surfing effort has come to something. I paddle out back and there is more of the same. And then more.

Eventually I come out and make the long walk up the strand back to the car park (I’d drifted far out at this stage.) My arms are like jelly and it’s not so easy to hold onto Matilda in this wind.

When I’ve changed I see a slim figure walking with a crutch. It takes me while to recognise her.

‘Hey Lisa…’ She recognizes me but is trying to place me. ‘We met through Nickey and Tara, in Lahinch…’

inch strand

inch strand

‘Of course…’ she smiles now.  ‘Skiing accident…’ she says when she sees me looking at her crutch. ‘Come, Nickey and Tara are here, I’m going to them now…’

Castlegregory is where Tara said they’d be in her text so I didn’t think I’d see them here. But the red camper sits on the side of the road and there is tea. When I enter that camper it feels like I never left Ireland and it feels like, in some way, home.


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