The waves we ride and the friends we meet along the way shape our lives. Fanie Kok tries to make sense of it all in ‘Pink Duct Tape’, which is his entry into ‘Write to Surf‘ – our surf journo competition with some epic prizes up for grabs (see below for details).
PINK DUCT TAPE – by: Fanie Kok
“Southwest swell with an 18 second period. Open up the champagne as a moderate southeaster blows the top off! Picasso!! The first day of the rest of our lives…”
I wasn’t sure what all of this meant, but it got me fired up and I was going in. Luckily there was an emergency delivery that had to be made to one of our shops. It definitely couldn’t wait until the next day. I got my ticket out and made my way to pure perfection. Oh, and to deliver a package!
I was just getting reintroduced to the lovely miss Cold Water. Unfortunately I had to go AWOL on our last appointment when the way-too-small wetsuit I was wearing decided to come apart when I zipped it up. This left my pale white bum cheeks reflecting the setting sun and my girlfriend refusing to let me appear in public like that. After she had almost laughed herself into a different blood group, that is.
This time around, with no gaping neoprene, I was ready.
The sun was busy setting over Robben Island with the silhouette of the ever present Table Mountain lurking in the background. The waves appeared to be almost smiling as they gave themselves to the surfers who patiently awaited their arrival. Seamless beauty…
And there I was, the nervous novice. You know that guy who walks seemingly confident and composed onto the beach, looks left and right a couple of times, pretends to stretch, then goes into the ocean at the completely wrong spot, only to get tossed out like a wet cloth way down the beach? Yip, that’s me!
This time though, I watched carefully where the other okes got in and hitched a ride. The water was so cold, but so purifying. The first time your head goes through one of the breakers it feels like you’re instantaneously cleansed of all the wrong you’ve ever done.
I made my way to backline as these liquid hills started rolling in. What the hell was I thinking?! Every time I managed to scratch over a wave before it broke, my heart stopped beating. It’s like all the energy and life in that moment was being sucked up by the wave, only to be released with a thunderous explosion seconds later.
Laaities who were barely old enough to walk were surfing circles around me. Little girls were cutting through these waves like a housewife cuts through a carrot. C’mon, how hard can it be?
I paddle for one. My heart is like, “ok I’m out of here” and takes my mind with it. Before I could even think of what to do next, I just saw black. It was like being in a wrestling match with a group of Congo gorillas while Metallica’s Enter Sandman plays in the background.
Eventually I broke the surface and took a big gulp of oxygen. I couldn’t help but feel a weird sense of gratification in that moment. Like being confronted with your mortality and subdued by this force of nature. A deep respect is forged.
I’m still not sure exactly why, but I tried to catch another. I get it! I stand up and become part of this moving mass of energy. Wow! How does one even begin to describe that feeling?
A bond is formed. I might have jumped too fast into this relationship. Third time around I reckon I got it. “Just one more wave.” As I go over the falls, I know something bad has happened. I stick my head through the surface and bear witness to the death of a surfboard. Two pieces of laminated foam float miserably before me as the sun disappears over the horizon. As I made my way back along the beach, some fellow surfers showed their compassion with silent nods and sympathetic smiles. They’ve all been there.
I’m trying to make sense of it all. All the different emotions and feelings experienced in such a short space of time. And it wasn’t even my surfboard. I borrowed it from the same friend whose wetsuit I had torn a couple of months back. I’ll never forget his response – “Awesome, bru! How big was it?”
“Onshore, offshore, glassy, murky, arvi, rip, grunt, crank…” and these are weather reports that thousands of people plan their lives around. Brilliant! Reading these surf forecasts is almost like some people reading their daily motivational piece by Doctor So-and-so with a Phd in this-and-that, founder of a certain something or other. I’m still learning the ropes, but I’m getting there.
I’m now one borrowed surfboard less and anxiously searching for a replacement. Waves don’t wait. There are so many shapers and brands out there. Where do you start? What do you look for? I felt like a woman trying to buy lingerie.
This friend of mine (whose surfboard and wetsuit I broke) invites me over to his house. He reckons that he has managed to repair the board and get it back in a rideable condition again. I can feel the excitement coming back. He shows me what used to be the front section of the board. Around the edges where it broke off he has stuck some seriously shocking pink duct tape to “prevent my wetsuit from tearing.” He explains that it will be a bit wobbly and look a bit weird, but at least I’ll be able to get back in the water.
For a moment, I didn’t know whether to start laughing or be grateful. But my man was being dead serious. He is the long time surfer and I broke the board, so who am I to say that this thing can’t be surfed? I behold this less than three foot, finless, pink duct-taped piece of what used to be a Dave Stubbs and is now just a stub. “Did you have to use pink duct-tape?” was all I could get out.
I tell him that there is this one board I’m looking to buy, but I’m not sure what it is. As I try to explain to him what it looks like, he says we can go check on his computer and moves towards his room. As we enter the room I see a surfboard on one of the beds. A shining, brand new surfboard that looks like the purest of pearls the ocean itself gave birth to. A small hand-written note with my name on it says, “I’m yours, paddle me…”
The magnitude of a moment like this is almost inconceivable. I was subdued. The gift of friendship, the gift of surfing, the gift of life. Thanks Bryan and the whole Allot family.
P.S: There’s gonna be lot more emergency deliveries taking place now!)
* The views expressed in ‘Write to Surf’ entries are not necessarily those of Zigzag.
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For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.