The following is a section taken from the journal i wrote while on the international collaboration trip in March 2017. Its an example of one of my surf sessions in Australia. While the surf was nothing special, it allowed for observation in a different surfing space, one that was less populated but had a smaller take off zone than my usual spots. it was also a smaller day so the close proximity to other surfers and long waits between waves gave a good opportunity to see how things were working that time.
Collaroy surf number 1
Went to the water to have a look and it reminded me a bit of surf Snowdonia. It wasn’t a lake in the mountains, but there seemed to be a big variety of waves available on one stretch of beach. Decided, as there was free board rental at the hostel that I would take out a board to first of all, try to stay away from my minimal sleep night and travel day, and to just go for it. No excuses- small waves, boards available, keep the momentum going I guess. So I went back to the hostel, changed into my wetsuit (its not warm here!) and picked a board to take out. This wasn’t a tough decision; it was the only one with fins. One of the boards had its nose snapped off totally, loads of the others had no fins, or one side fin!? And there was a tiny shortboard or a plastic 7’10 with 3 fins and a leash.
So away I go and I chose to go in at the point break on the south end of the beach, breaking across from a sea pool and looking mellow enough. It was strange taking out a board that wasn’t massive but it was an easy paddle out and I was soon sat in the line up of about 12 people. That doesn’t sound like many, but it was a small take off area and I think that if that was the case last week then I wouldn’t have gone in at all. Riding high on the back of my raglan confidence however, I felt comfortable enough out there. I paddled for a few, from a little outside the optimum area, so as to avoid getting in anyones way. I was having no luck at all , and after my few days of cool waves in raglan I was torn between being frustrated at being unable to catch anything, and totally relaxed as I was in no danger of being knocked off my board and I was in the sea. I moved inside a bit and caught a few; well, I picked them up but the first wave I think I was just so shocked to be on it that I came straight off and the next few I just couldn’t keep my momentum going and the wave took off without me, leaving me standing on my board in a flat bit of the ocean. The entry to the wave was either from the sandy beach, which I did, or a jump off the sea wall. I didn’t realise that the break was over a rocky reef so when I did catch some, I was surprised to feel the slimy stone where I was expecting to find sand.
In summary, I had a terrible session surfing wise but I enjoyed being in the sea and was more awake than I had been for the rest of the day (I don’t really know how I managed to drive here). It was also interesting to see that there were more girls than guys out there, on this section of the beach. There was a nice vibe, with the girls asking if the others had had a wave yet, and chatting about things. Annoyingly though, most of the waves were still being caught by 2 guys on longboards, who were able to pick up the waves sooner and therefore had priority- they had tons more waves than everyone else, and were even calling each other onto a wave, to keep them to themselves. This may not have been conscious action but it was definitely happening and it was interesting to see that even in an environment where females made up the majority, the males still dominated the area. Everyone was having a nice time I think, and a cool sea bird came up from a fishing trip very close to me which was fun. I eventually gave up and had a slow paddle to shore- the beach shelved steeply and it was a bit of a wobbly exit but no real problems. Will go again tomorrow. Will probably try to get a bigger board, and hope that the others all have to go to work in the morning!