Friday, August 20, 2010


Would you rather surf below average waves with a close group of friends or perfect waves…alone? It’s a question every surfer ponders. We weigh our options. It sure is fun to surf to the hoots and hollars of some trusted friends. When eyes are locked in on us, as we stroke for that second set wave, it motivates us to ride it well. After all, someone is watching.

But the alternative is tempting, isn’t it. Go ahead and dream about your perfect wave, it’s a little different for everyone (but you know it would be in warm water—that is a given). Mine would be point break rights, a couple of feet overhead, with barrel sections but the wave slowing down enough to mix in some big roundhouse cutties. Mix in a defined paddling channel and no drift contend with, and mix in some plant life on the reef/rocks to take away the consequences of a brash (foolish?) manuever. And I get to surf it alone, with no crowds? Sounds tempting!

And it actually happened! A surfer got a world class break all to himself for 15 years before it was discovered. Now granted, it wasn’t Rincon-esque. It had, shall we say—other features—cold water, long paddle, sharky, mean, exposed rocks to slice you and dice you for any wave-riding indiscretion. This spot was named after this surfer’s dog. The dog’s name was Mavericks.

That surfer, Jeff Clark, had been looking at the place for some years, when he finally decided to give it a go. As a goofy foot, he tried the left first. But in time he recognized the right was better shaped and way longer. So he taught himself to surf switch stance. And for 15 years, he was in big wave perfection. Alone.

The story is told that he just couldn’t take it anymore, so during a big swell, he shows up in the parking lot at Santa Cruz’s Steamer Lane. While Middle peak is closing out, he whispers to Tom Powers and Dave Schmidt “I can take you to a place that will hold this swell…and more.” So like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, Clark spirits Powers and Schmidt away into the hill…or rather, out into the line-up.

Eventually, Mavericks had to become more than just the domain of one. Google Earth would have sealed its fate. But years before that technology, it was just about a man who went out and recruited some other humans to claw over that ledge with him. Because the soul of surfing required it!

To be sure, we rarely go looking for crowds, but we would be well served to grab a person or two and share in the act of riding waves. It’s good for our soul. On the next go out, who can you grab to join you out there? Someone that will share your stoke, or just someone who needs to be out there—for whatever reason. Use the time well—hoot as they pull in to a closeout. Listen to them as they talk between sets. Give away a wave or two. And in doing so, align your heart with the heart of God.

For you see, God has this thing about people. He loves people, He feels for people. And he would go to unimaginable lengths to rescue people from a certain spiritual death. Here’s hoping you get some memorable sessions of perfect surf with some people who you can love. And if not, paddle out anyway.

Romans 5:7 “But God demonstrates his love in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

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