Posted by: smithdavid | October 13, 2013

With the Torrent

It’s about six a.m. and we’re out back at Glen Beach.

EV looks up to Lion’s Head. ‘When the sun comes over there, I know it’s time to go to work…’ he says grinning.

I think of what it’s usually like for me before work. It’s dark and probably raining. The traffic has begun to hum and the heavier trains which thunder by on the way to Kensington Olympia make the apartment rattle.  A siren or two probably wail. On the walk to Baron’s Court Tube Station a car will hoot at the car in front of it a split second after the light has turned green.

I look now across from Lion’s Head to Twelve Apostles and become aware that I’m smiling.

the twelve apostles

the twelve apostles

EV paddles in towards shore. A line of swell starts to jack up, his arms move quickly and as the wave breaks. I see his head and know that he has made the drop. I cannot see how he fares because of the steepness of the wave. But he comes out the side after a short time and he’s whooping, so I know he’s had a good ride.

‘That’s Glen Beach for you,’ he says when he gets back out. ‘Lightening fast take-off, two turns and then you’re done…’

A wave comes now and jacks up in front of us. There is no time to get over. I’m slapped backwards but fortunately not dumped. But I’m in the break zone now and I have to start paddling to get back out. I see swell rise up – at any other beach I’ve surfed it would only break long after it’s passed me. Here though I only just make it over the shoulder. I hear the roar as the wave breaks behind me, I don’t look back.

The next wave is starting to break already, I paddle hard to make it over, I can see the shoulder racing right to left as it approaches. A few more desperate strokes. I feel the board smash into my chest and then I’m falling.  When I land my back slams into the board – the fury of the wave has somehow pushed the board from beneath my chest to behind me. I suck in a lungful of air and then I’m under water, tumbling. Everything tenses up inside and I start panicking for air. Then I let myself go with the torrent, there is nothing else to do.

lightening-fast glen beach wave

lightening-fast glen beach wave

I’m waist deep when I’m finally washed out. I stand for a while, take long breaths. The cross rip is pushing against my legs.

Up where the waves are breaking I see EV riding one. He’s crouched and focused. It’s all over quickly.

He beckons for me to come back out. I think of giving in, wading back to shore and watching the rest of the session from the beach. I know, instinctively, that is impossible for me, at my level, to catch a wave here – my pop-up is not quick enough. But I paddle back out – perhaps I want to feel the terror again of looking down the face of a Glen Beach wave. Perhaps I just want to be able to say I survived a whole session.


  1. perhaps you don’t want your mate taking the piss out of you for the rest of the trip. 😉

    • yes, there was that too 🙂
      thanks for reading…

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