The enigmatic natural-footer finds the ultimate diamond in the rough on a treacherous day.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was a dream run for surfers on the Far North Coast of NSW. A surf bender that will live in the memory banks for a lifetime. Monday however, was a different story. The swell was larger and more disgruntled. The spots that had provided the goods over previous days were now angry and unhinged, leaving the local points as the only real option.
I pulled up to check the first to see the Westpac chopper hovering over the lineup. Called to winch a local surfer who had bitten off a little more than they could chew from the water. Despite the action occurring on the point, most eyes seemed drawn away from the headland to a small cove that sits immediately south of the point.
Now, the word cove conjures up images of an idyllic and sheltered refuge. But this cove is anything but. Considered by all with good sense to be unsurfable. Hemmed in by cliff to the north and south, and all but a small three-metre wide keyhole to the shore fenced off by jagged rocks. It has disaster written all over it.
This day all the unfriendly attributes were still there, but the cove was an unruly mess of detonating bombs, yet somehow a lone surfer bobbed among the mayhem.
He’d obviously seen something that intrigued him. A personal challenge perhaps. He probed the lineup cautiously. A mistake wouldn’t end well. Close to half-an-hour, he sat, sticking his head over the ledge on a handful, but not pulling the trigger.
The large cliffside peanut gallery waiting anxiously for some action.
Eventually a nice set rolled in. Two waves. The first looking the goods, the second a bomb that would closeout. The cove at that moment relatively free of backwash and warble. Rasta had his mark. He paddled hard for the first wave and drove into its innards. Disappearing behind a first section that exploded all around him. A second section fell and he was deep within it. I had written him off. The wave then heaved a huff of spit and out flew Rasta. The Peanut gallery erupting on the headland.
Job not done he now faced an uphill scramble to reach the keyhole before being washed into the cliff. After being mowed down by the second wave of the set he surfaced, put the head down and paddled as hard as he did for the wave, eventually making it to the keyhole in one piece.
One wave, and a masterful display that utilised every skill acquired during a life spent reading the ocean. Now that’s good surfing.
Sequence by Ben Bugden