I just got back from Europe and the Austrian Surf Championships. After a looong flight, I’ve slept for 12 hours when I got home and to my delight woke up to 4ft clean waves. I was keen beans to head out for my first surf in the hood in a while.
On the way to the beach I bumped into a mate who just got out of the water. The obligatory surf conversation..
Me: ‘Hey, how are you?’
Luke: ‘Good how are you’
Me: ‘How was it?’
Luke: ‘Pretty good but I only had one good one and then just didn’t get anymore. But that’s surfing… you know what it’s like sometimes’
…Oh yes, indeed, I do know what it’s like…Only a week ago, I’ve had a very similar experience. I was in Portugal at the Austrian Surf Championships. Being born and bred in Austrian means I’m allowed to compete in the Austrian Surf Championships and in the absence of homegrown shores (Austria is landlocked) the championships took place in Ericeira. It was 4-5ft fun waves at Ribeira D’Ilhas, no wind and sunny. The perfect day for a surfing competition. Well for most people anyway.
Not so much for me, I looked like death – ok maybe exaggerating a little bit but some peeps certainly did comment on my blueish looking teint. I guess that’s what you look like if you spew your guts out after food poisoning. Still I was determined to take part in the competition. Not every day you get the chance to compete in Surf Championships. So I tried to forget about the Tuna Steak from hell and gave it all I had to give on the day.
I actually felt pretty good when I made it out the back in the women’s final even though it was not an easy task in itself with the tide coming in on a point break. I caught a wave pretty early on. It was a pretty good wave. After that one, I only needed a 4 point ride to the first place. I had about 15 min to catch that wave. But that wave just would not come along. There was one little wave that was pretty lame and died under me. The clock kept ticking and there was a massive lull for about 10 minutes. Only 5 minutes to go. Still nothing. I started to get desperate…I started to paddle for not so great waves and did not have the energy to properly catch them. It’s like trying to catch that last wave in when you are already late for work but 500 times worse. Sooooo frustrating and then even worse, the gidget on the third spot caught a wave and overtook me…just. I was so hoping for a last set to come through to pull out some magic in the last minute…but nada and I ended up coming third.
I was so disappointed. Food poisoning or not, I could have won it and I did not. Just not my day. Straight away, my brain went into overdrive, you could have, should have…being my ambitious, driven self, in my mind I started to beat myself up a little bit about it.
But I guess the ocean once more has been a fantastic teacher and reminded me of a few things:
- There’s no ‘should haves’, ‘could haves’ in the ocean. It’s the moment that counts.
- You can’t control the ocean. Never. Not even in a competition ;-)
- Put things in perspective…I mean really it’s pretty cool that I did make it all the way to Portugal to compete in the Austrian Surf Championships at all. It was such an amazing experience and I was stoked to meet so many fellow Austrian surfers who were all loving and welcoming frothers and gidgets.
That’s what my grown up self is telling myself anyway. My childish self is still a little bit disappointed but that’s ok too and there is always next year ;-)
By the way I do have a newly found appreciation and awe for professional surfing. Respect. You really need nerves of steel…catching waves under pressure is a whole skill in itself. 20 minutes is pretty short…Not to forget congrats to Gold Gidget Verena and Silver Gidget Lisa! You rock ladies and it’s been an honor surfing with you!