On Monday, I was at Pismo surfing just south of the pier in what turned out to be some exceptionally nice waves. They were clean, glassy, three to five feet, semi powerful and amazing for Pismo. On this particular day there were a large number of guys out, and most of them were congregating in the area around me; or should I say I somehow ended up in the middle of their group.
There were roughly 20 guys in the water, most of which were rippers. It seemed like every wave had someone pulling a sick bottom turn and then snapping off the lip, multiple times.
It was a great show and there I was in the middle of it, alone. I had gone out that day with the intention of blowing off some steam and relaxing a little and I figured that it was Pismo – it really didn’t matter if I had someone with me or not.
During my first set of the day, before a larger crowd had materialized, I was sitting on my board with surfers on either side of me about 15 yards away. A nice set began to form on the horizon and all three of us began to paddle as if we were all going to drop in on the first of the set. We all pulled back as the first wave passed us, leaving the three of us in a similar position in the water. The next wave came and I attempted to seize it paddling hard. I looked to my left, the guy had pulled back. I looked to my right and didn’t see the other guy and went for it.
I shouldn’t have.
As I reached the top of the wave, I committed. About to take a steep drop, I looked down and then it blew up in my face. The guy who was originally to my right was now directly below me and we were on a collision course.
He looked up, saw me, turned and dove to his right. I looked down, saw him and took a dive into the flat bottom and immediately thrust into a whirl of sea and salt.
A good beating comes with the territory when surfing, but I had no idea that I could have been beaten by more than nature that day. Upon returning to the surface, the guy that had narrowly avoided me, gave me what I could only describe as a death stare before he turned, ducked another wave and began to paddle back out.
Alright, if you have been waiting for my point, here it is. No one owns the ocean.
In my case, there was no confrontation, but I have heard stories about people getting into fights over waves and locals defending their, “secret spots” with intimidation of all sorts.
In short, all of this violence and animosity is unnecessary. Surfing is about as leisurely a sport as one can find and people should be out there with the intention of getting some exercise, enjoying the ocean and relaxing – not battling over the never-ending sea of waves.
There are enough waves in the ocean for everyone, so keep it civil. Whether you are a student or just a local, we are all just ocean-goers looking to have a good time.
Keep the peace.
Chris Gunn is a journalism senior and assistant sports editor. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.