How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 6

You instantly push your feet away from yourself with vigor, breaking the deep crouch, but not completely, remaining low, remaining partially-folded, like a loaded spring, ready for what may, or may not, be coming without advance warning of any kind. The board's bottom surface is immediately forced down and into as secure a contact with the precipice of water you are now falling across as can possibly be achieved. Ordinarily, this should be enough. But sometimes, it is not, and things go horribly wrong from the outset.

The big muscles of your lower torso and legs engage themselves in a fury of precision bunching and flexing against a multitude of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, in near-instantaneous and mindless response to a roar of signals incoming from a vast forest of nerve endings, which are bouncing off of the bottom of your spinal cord in a staccato symphony of unconscious reflex.

The conscious part of your brain lies completely elsewhere, focused to saturation with the hurricane of input which it is being subjected to by a plainly-lethal environment that is becoming worse by the second and rearranging itself faster than proper comprehension can absorb.

A final infusion of forward velocity is promptly transfered from the lunging water of the uppermost reaches of the wave you are melding with, through the body of your surfboard, and thence directly into yourself through the soles of your feet, even as the inescapable dictates of gravitational acceleration, working at 32 feet per second, per second, begin their work in earnest.

The wind howls and snatches at you and your surfboard from in front and below, blasting away at things on your left side.

The individual shards of Na+, Cl-, and H20 that you are in direct contact with are all racing forward and still just a little upward, near, but not quite at, the apex of their endlessly-repeated cyclical journey that defines their existence as being part of yet another incoming wave.

You too, are now racing forward, but also, ever increasingly, downward. That 32 feet per second squared is expressed as a negative number and there is no arguing with, or disputing it. You are going, like it or not, gut-wrenchingly and ever-increasingly faster and faster, down.

As you plummet downward, your location along the curving forward surface of the wave brings you more and more into contact with bits of seawater that are located shoreward of the ones you just left behind, giving you at least a little something beneath you to continue to support you and impart further speed into your race against quick-disappearing time as the evolving canopy above you takes on sinister form and substance.

Every once in a while, as your days surfing Sunset Beach continue to accumulate, that final shove of forward velocity you received up at the very top of the wave will overextend the ability of the water beneath you to rise up into place and be there in time to support you on your way down, and you will find yourself coming unstuck from palpable water, falling freely through thinnest air, sickeningly weightless for the briefest of moments, prior to an out-of-control reconnect with things, farther down.

This, you do not ever want to do.

But sometimes you do anyway.

The board chatters madly across the chops coming up the face as you hurtle downward and forward aiming for the broad apron of water that's still only just beginning to be drawn up and into things for real, in earnest, below and before you.

And really, chatter is not the right word. But our language does not properly contain a word to describe the sound, so we're stuck with the nearest thing there is, and that thing is the word "chatter."

Chatter does well to describe the cadence of things, but not the sound itself. Chatter denotes a sound that is higher-pitched, and somehow thinner, than the sound that comes off of the bottom of a surfboard that is taking the drop on a respectable day at Sunset Beach.

The actual sound has a deeper tone, and an almost hollow aspect to it, with each individual nugget of low and solid sound coming in machine-gun succession wrapped in a sharp hiss, and it's also quite a bit louder than the word chatter might give you to believe.

The sound stands out with complete clarity against the background hiss, roar, and detonations that accompany it, and as you are paddling back out for another one, in the clear water just off the shoulder from the wave and rider that is producing it, it elicits an indescribable feeling of anticipation, pleasure, and power, just from the sound alone.

It is the unique sound of drops being taken on large perfect peaks at Sunset Beach, and there no other sound in the world quite exactly like it. And when you are hearing it, it can only mean that you are immersed directly within the energy field of a place where few mortals dare to tread, and that you yourself will be soon producing more of this very same sound as you take your own next drop.

It is very good, very good indeed, and when it's you that's creating the sound, you not only hear it, you also feel it, coming through the soles of your feet, jaggedly vibrating its rapid-fire series of tactile shocks in its own special language, telling you that you're planted, you're connected well, and your firm contact with the board is going to see you through as you fly faster than an arrow, untouched by the impending doom that is exploding all around you.

It is, as I said, very good indeed, because at Sunset, the drop is the thing.

Successfully taking the drop at Sunset on a respectable day is one of the greatest pleasures that a human being can experience, and there is simply no way to convey any of that to anyone who has yet to do so.

It's an intense and exquisitely delicious feeling like no other.

And of course, the drop is only the drop. After the drop, there is more, and sometimes much more.

You are by now simply zooming, and as you approach the lowest point of your descent, the wave erupts not only behind you, but also in front of you.

A gigantic mass of exploding whitewater has been created by the force of the lip hitting flat water just behind you, and not all of it stays there properly behind you.

Some of it is now out there ahead of you and as you scream across the low near-flat apron of the wave, you lower your stance, fold your legs deeper, and prepare for the bottom turn.

And again, it becomes more or less impossible to describe the sensations.

You need to hesitate for just a bit longer than you might at first imagine. Hold that screaming line aimed straight toward the distant beach for just a trifle more time.

Now push hard with the balls (or heels, if you're doing this backside) of your feet on your right rail, feeling the surprising strength, resistance, and resiliency of the water as it responds to the input you are giving it through your surfboard while traveling at a high rate of speed.

You feel the rail bite deeply, satisfyingly, the chop does not knock you sideways and off of your board, and now you lay the whole thing, yourself included, over on its side, as far as you possibly can, bury the whole rail, as much as you possibly can, and push hard with your legs at that exact same moment, imparting yet more force into an already very forceful situation, set yourself for the acceleration, and feel the board beneath you as it tears off like a rocket, out and around that great churning pile of whitewater, escaping it by the barest of margins, out onto the clean clear water of the shoulder.

A well-done bottom turn on a big wave at Sunset Beach is one of the marquee moves of surfing. It is one of those things that defines surfing. The sensation can not in any way be described, but perhaps it is enough to know that whatever the sensation might really be like, people endure severe punishments and repeatedly place themselves at fearsome risk just to get a little bit more of it, again and again. Consider that, if you will.

You now have all the hardest work behind you, unless the aspect of the wave, the swell angle, or perhaps a fortuitous alignment of planets, has set things up in a manner that will permit a proper go at the Inside Section.

Bye-bye words, because there's just no way in hell I'm going to get this one across in anything remotely resembling the form in which you would experience it for yourself.

There might have been one of the finest drawn-out cutbacks of your life in there, two even, if you're lucky, but compared to what went before, and what is coming soon, those cutbacks become sort of lost in the glare, outshined by the brilliance and intensity of that which bookends them.

Try if you will, to imagine such a thing, but do not feel bad if it does not come. That is, after all, to be expected. It is, after all, Sunset Beach that we're talking about here.

And so we approach and enter, the fucking Inside Section at Sunset Beach.

It's an entire discipline unto itself, complete and without need of additional.....anything.

In truth, it's a complete separate surfspot.

Whole different wave.

Except that it's not. It's the same wave. You're still riding it. You just finished dealing with the outside, it kind of lays down for a bit, and then it gathers itself back together, stands up in an improbably-long wall, and then just goes off, like high-explosive or something.

It is its own world, and it possesses an intensity level that has to be experienced to be believed.

There are places hidden along the track that a respectable wave might take across the inside section where it becomes surprisingly shallow.

But the wave keeps these places well-concealed, and most times it's not something obvious, like perhaps the bottom at Pipeline or maybe Log Cabins is obvious.

No, it's much more understated than that. Sunset Beach is known as a deep-water wave and that's exactly what it wants you to believe.

Once again, Sunset Beach is trying to come at you unawares, from a hidden place, by surprise.

Even as you're looking directly at it. Even as you're riding directly across it.

Unlike the peak outside, the inside section at Sunset Beach is protean in the extreme, and its fluctuations are the stuff of legend.

It lives and breathes, surges and pulses, comes at you with sudden and unexpected warbles and steps, and just generally goes way the hell and gone out of its way to deceive you and smash you, even as it also might one fine day set you up for the best tube ride you will ever experience in your entire lifetime.

The lip can become thick to the point of grotesquery. Caricature-like. Not believable.

But will lit let you pass?



Perhaps not.

The whole world might suddenly come crashing down upon your head as you fly just above a reef which you can suddenly see has become, at the last second when it's far too late, alarmingly shallow and clearly-visible in great and unwanted detail beneath the slick quivering surface of water gone mad.

The inside section at Sunset will hurt you, if you let it.

And, too often, you have no say-so in the matter. No choice. No way out. No escape.

You will take your punishment and simply hope for an ending that does not involve grievously torn flesh or broken bones.

Return to

Maybe try to email me?