Oregon is a beautiful place. Indeed.
Stopping at Seaside was a strange anomaly to my ride so far. I’d heard rumours of how blow-in surfers were treated - but I treated them with a grain of salt. I’d heard that sort of thing before and figured as long as I blew in low key, paddled out solo, sat wide and waited, it’d be cool.
I won’t go on about it, but for 3 days I was subjected to a form of localism I just couldn’t get my head around. Don’t get me wrong, of course locals deserve the sets and the inside, and I’m not about to hassle or even paddle for taken waves.
But the clearest instance of surfing gone wrong (in my mind), was the best day of the swell - my second day there. I’d sat out the whole morning whilst it pumped at 6ft, tubes for breakfast - all you can eat, 10-15 guys out.
Sat it out on the shore and waited.
Then it went onshore, messy, the tide dropped out and everyone went in, except one local. Now’s the window me thought. Into wetsuit, wax board up, hop the cobblestones, freezing water - colder than Alaska.
Then weirdly, as how sometimes happens with surfing, the conditions started to change again. The wind dropped until we had pure indo-esque glass, and the inconsistency pulsed into 4-5 wave sets every 5-10 mins.
Just one local and I.
Too many waves for just two people, pumping 6ft tubes going unridden as everyone sat at home warming fingers or eating brunch.
For the moment anyway…
‘Hey man, Cali called – they want you back.’‘I’m not from Cali mate…’*pause to think*‘I don’t want to see you, I don’t want to hear you. MATE.’‘Rightyo – its cool’‘You’re getting lucky right now man. You just wait.’‘No worries mate.’
I kept laughing in my head as each set came through, let him take off on a sick one, and catch the next wave of the set, smoking and proper. Reminded me of some waves in the ments, but if I could compare it to anything it’d be the reverse of a particular wave in the far north of Scotland. Yeah, equal to that I’d say.
I ignored the guy’s brooding seething beneath his rubber-hooded head. Whatever man.
A yell from the beach. The campfire burning. One more local doing that weird sea lion noise that their gang does in greeting to each other, or as a threatening bark at a blow-in. They’ve got a weird secret hand signal thing too. West side.
He paddles out, pumped up. Gaunt, hawk-like features and burning eyes that look like they need sleep. Leering. Fuming. Icy eyes.
I sit wide.
The next 15 minutes are followed by vitriolic dribble, spitting, and eventually the threat of physical violence. Now I’m actually in shock, trying my best to stay passive, play it cool. I paddle wide, he follows me, sits an inch from me until we bump. Loses it.
The guy is paddling around like a mad man, ruining his own surf and blowing waves by concentrating on how he can harass me. Then a dude from Santa Cruz paddles out. That’s it, Hawky’s lost the plot, now he’s flying off the handle and paddles towards him…
The dude from Santa Cruz has seen it all before – handles it smooth. He winks at me – cool cat. I’m still in shock.
I keep surfing, but the vibes are so bad that I’m not enjoying it at all. Just out there to prove a point now.
Clamber up the cobblestones with a distinct bitterness in my mouth.
I’m outta here.
As I’m getting out I see Hawky paddle into a good one, he threads the tube, and hits the lip 3 times before kicking out…
…with the prowess of a guy who knows the wave better than anyone, but with the smug inward thinking of a guy who’s never surfed anywhere else.
As he paddles back out another set rolls in, 4 perfect waves pass him by unridden, I hear him faintly yelling something - seemingly at the ocean this time.
Start the bike.
NB. I'd just like to highlight that this experience or post is not directed at Americans. Unfortunately surfing has its dark sides, in all parts of the world - although seaside point is apparently amongst some of the worst out there. The people i've met in north America have been some of the best people i've met anywhere. Everywhere else i've surfed on this epic west coast has been great. Awesome people...