When we arrived in Alstonville yesterday we did a quick drive out to the coast to check out the surf potential.
We had heard there were good waves and I was aware (from years of reading surfing magazines) that Lennox Head was in the vicinity and was well worth a look.
As we drove down the coast we saw surf everywhere and it was more a case of ‘where?’ not ‘if?’ The beachies looked decent and we saw a couple of point breaks that looked ok and then there was Lennox… It looked magic and was the pick of the crop, but also the most crowded.
Today’s choice was between quality or solitude… Usually I choose solitude and surf crappy waves, but today I figured I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to surf one of Australia’s classic waves while I was in the area.
We had a quick look at Flat Rocks which looked big and shifty and not that appealing before heading down to the Lennox. There were some beautiful lines rolling thru and several packs of guys sitting at different take off spots.
Despite feeling an urge to quickly change in brown underwear (its been a while since I have surfed decent sized waves) I was stoked to be able to have a crack at somewhere like this. My very patient wife and kids would play on the beach while I did my best not to embarrass myself…
So I strolled down to the inner take off spot which was much less crowded and tried to find a way out… but it wasn’t happening. Large boulders covered in barnacles sloped away gradually into the ocean bottom but a decent sized wave kept thundering across them, so it was obvious that I wasn’t going to get out without a fight and maybe some board damage. No one else was trying to head out there so I thought maybe that was a sign…
I followed a couple of locals up to the outer section and hoped to watch them jump first. They stopped and chatted, so I just decided to give it a whirl anyway. I stepped out on the rocks as far as I could get without getting hammered, waited for a decent sized wave, jumped and paddled like crazy… I made it a few meters before the bottom sucked out and the board scraped on some rocks. Oh well… I kept paddling – this wasn’t the spot to check out the damage.
Once thru that section I was into the take off zone pretty easily and straight into a nice looking and good sized wave… only to discover that there was someone on the inside… Bugger… I have a fairly high regard for surfing etiquette, so I pulled off and let him go on a beauty of a wave.
For the next hour and a half getting waves was tricky. Partly because of the shifty peaks that moved around and occasionally caught us inside, but also because most people out there were much better – or at least younger – than I… It was frustrating to paddle into a beautiful wave only to see someone further inside and then having to pull out. It was disheartening to feel weary arms after having to duck dive thru a few waves and fight my way back out.
I did score a couple of decent waves but the crowd factor meant it was more of an experience than a true joy. I can now saw that I ‘have done it’… for what that’s worth… For me it was worth sacrificing my solitude for today.
While out there I was chatting with a bloke who had lived there for 25 years and obviously knew the place well. I asked him where to ‘go in’ after I’d finished. He just said ‘where-ever you like. It’s a mess in there.’
Some huge storms in recent months had shifted all the barnacle encrusted rocks around to the shore so everyone was now having to take it very careful to make it in. I decided to take the long route via the bay and avoid board and personal damage, but a mistimed wave saw me changing those plans. After take off the wave closed out and rolled me in close to shore. I felt the rocks under foot and made the decision to head in rather than make my way back out.
It was every bit as tricky as it looked. Adrenalin is useful stuff for getting thru these dodgy situations! With it pumping rapidly thru my veins I managed to navigate a couple of oncoming waves, stumble over the rocks and drag my board to safety. Once on land I saw blood streaming from both feet, my left shin bruised and my left thigh was badly corked.
I didn’t even look back out. It was time to call it a day and accept that some days ‘old blokes don’t rule’…
Would I do it again?…
Ha… That’s a no brainer, hey?…