The Wind Beneath My Wings

So I’m in the shore, in my underpants. Ten foot waves are detonating on the shorebreak, picking up a riderless jetski like a piece of seaweed and flicking it about the shorey for fun. Irish big wave surfer Al Mennie, all 6’6" man-mountain of him and UK’s Andrew “Cottie" Cotton, are trying to drag the ski up a steep bank, and failing; the waves too powerful, the ski too heavy, the bank too steep. My dick is the size of a tic-tac, my puny arms aching from the attempts at not budging a waterlogged ski. I’m not sure my heroic attempts at helping, in my underpants, were of any use. Well I know they weren’t. The ski soon disappeared from view and was found by the Portuguese Navy three days later.

Not for the first time in my life, I think it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was in Nazaré to follow Shane Dorian, Eric Rebiere and Sancho paddle surf the gimungous wedges of Portugal’s most famous beachbreak. Dorian had flown in the night before, the trip from Hawaii only taking a cool 37 hours. I asked him that morning, when we were checking a disorganised 20 foot beachie in the grey fog and driving rain, how he was feeling. A little tired he said, claiming one hour sleep due to jet lag. I felt for him, as I to was tired, having also stayed up passed my bedtime clicking on ex-girlfriends on Facebook.

Anyway we both managed to man up and face the day ahead. For Dorian, that meant tackling  20-25 feet Nazaré beachies. For me, that meant watching Dorian tackling 20-25 feet Nazaré beachies. Both had their moments. After Shane’s first wave, after being caught inside and with the jet being unable to punch through the line-up, it was decided to beach the ski and regroup. Which was fine, until when trying to get back out, a massive shorey swamped them both, ripped the key out and deposited the two tonne machine on its back about ten metres up the beach, incapacitated.

Lucky though, the true hero of this story, me, was on hand. Faced with no way for Shane to get back out, it was decided that I would get the car and drive him back to the port for another pick up. It would be the world’s longest runaround. I sprinted the 300 metres of soft sand, climbed the steep cliffs, found a car, wrangled it out of the packed cliff car park, and headed for the other beach carpark near Dorian. All this was done heroically. As I drove around the last corner (heart palpitating, both with unhealth and the thought of some sweet, quality one-on-one time with Dorian in the car) I was disheartened to see Shane paddling into a 50 feet high wedge, my truly heroic efforts all for nothing. It turns out that German Sebastian Steudtner, a previous XXL winner, had offered to drive his ski from out the back and rescue Shane from the beach, the bastard. The fact that Dorian told me later he did it with supreme control and skill only made me angrier.

Anyway I continued on with my unsung efforts. I watched as Dorian free-fell from a gnarly left, and saw both Sancho and Eric nail some big bombs. I even tried to cart one of Shane’s back up 11’3" boats from the beach to the cliffs, until it proved way too heavy. The tide got higher and the wind cleaned up and all the surfers managed to survive a wave that in my eyes really isn’t designed for anything but suicide.

It was at the very end, when again, heroically and unsungly I was facilitating a tractor pick up of the aforementioned buggered Billabong ski, that I rushed to the aid of Cottie and co, in my underpants.

Later that night over dinner, I tried to explain to Shane the reason for my chaffed ballbag, aching calf muscles and dead arms, but he seemed disinterested, instead talking to Sanch and Eric about quad fins and 11 foot boards and mythical unsurfed big waves. It didn’t matter though, and as I wrapped some cold sardines around my swollen testicles, I knew who the real hero was and it didn’t matter if no one else did. It really didn’t...