Posted by: smithdavid | August 4, 2013


We’re in Dad’s kitchen on Christmas Day, eating breakfast. I’m wondering whether to go surfing or go to the morning service.

‘Surfing is your thing now…’ says Sue. It’s the only encouragement I need.

I finish eating, load Christine into Phoenix, drive down to the car park. It’s too early for the entrance barrier (a length of rope manned by khaki clad council workers) so I park right at the beach front.

Two guys have come in from a swim and are now washing off at the shower.

gonubie car park...

gonubie car park…

‘How cold is it?’ I ask, thinking maybe it’s warm enough for just boardies and a rashvest.

‘How long you gonna be in?’

‘Couple of hours…’

‘You’ll need a wetsuit for sure…’

At the sea rescue building, Terry (head life guard) is taking a longboard from the shed. ‘Time for my Christmas surf…’ he mutters.

By the time I got suited up and stretched, Terry and one other guy are in the water. There is no wind and out past where the waves break the sea is smooth, shiny and viscous.

I paddle out easily, quickly getting out back. Terry takes the first wave after I get there, he’s up easily, riding right on the lip as he did last time he was in.

‘People reckon you can’t move a longboard,’ he reckons when he gets back out. ‘Bullsh*t, it’s just a matter of where you stand…’

A line of swell comes smoothly in, I turn and paddle for it. A shockwave of nerves surges through me, I worry for a moment that I wont make the wave. But the wave reaches me and the rest is natural and I’m gliding along parallel to the beach, the water in front of me clear and rushing.

the third surfer...

the third surfer…

I paddle halfway back out and there is another wave. I turn and take it and I’m surging again.

As I paddle back a wave jacks up and the third guy paddles into it, pops up and then crouches low. I know he’s going for the barrel and I will him on, wanting him to have that rush. But he falls off just as the wave begins tubing.

Out the back again Terry is going on about the joys of Gonubie Beach. ‘This is what it’s like all year round, rights rolling all the way in, no-one in the water – not like J-Bay where there’re hundreds fighting it out…’ He looks right at me – ‘In fact, you’re making it crowded,’ he says, cocking a smile in the corner of his mouth.

‘We’ll both get this one, boet,’ he says as another glassy wave jacks up. ‘You take the drop, I’ll ride the lip,’ he says as the wave comes in.

I’m aware of him to my right as I ride but then there is nothing else but the hollowness of stomach as I rush down the face, see the curling lip to my right. It’s not quite a barrel, but it’s as close as I’ve ever got – I can almost lean out with my right hand and touch the glassy, curling water. On I surge, the greatest ecstasy I’ve ever felt exploding within as I go.

When I finally come off I see Terry paddling out again, he looks back at me, whoops. I shout out too.  ‘That’s Gonubie,’ Terry says, ‘when it’s good it’s awesome…’



  1. Awesome.

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