After a week of storms passing over the South Island, we finally found three days all to ourselves and took off to Tofino. We drove through a downpour the entire way until we came to the top of the last mountain pass which revealed views of blue skies and a brilliant warm sun. After drowning in rain for so many days, I’d almost forgotten the warmth of the sun.
During the drive I tried to imagine how the coming days of surfing might play out based on the forecast. I imagined popping up and riding the cleanest lefts as far as the eye could see. But our surf check revealed a messy beach break with disorganized, head-high sets and a powerful cross-shore breeze. We changed in the gravel parking lot and quickly began to overheat basking in our black wetsuits and the surprisingly warm sun. I longed to feel the rush of the cold ocean passing over my body.
My daydreams of hanging ten and getting tubed quickly vanished as the first wall of frigid whitewash knocked me silly. I fought set after set with senseless determination, duck diving when I was ready, getting knocked off my board and washed ashore when I wasn’t. With a pint of saltwater up my nose and in my eyes, I surfaced from one last dive and found myself out the back at last. As the next set came through, I paddled to the correct spot, faced shore and fought to stand up and drop into the massive green wall. Just as everything finally came together in one beautiful peak moment, I lost control and the feeling of free-fall tightened in my gut. After the wave bucked me off its six-foot peak and held me underwater as it passed, the next thing I remember is surfacing back inside, all of my efforts gone to waste. Determined to make the most of it, I saddled up and paddled back out to sea.