Mavericks, 2003, my defining moment

2003, Mavericks My defining moment excerpt from Surfing Mennie Waves

...........We weren’t going out there to not catch a wave this time! Emmet and I loaded the sleeves of our wetsuits with chocolate bars and paddled out. We planned on an all-day session again, but didn’t want to lose energy while we were out there.

The same crew of guys were there again, but Mike couldn’t make it as he was out of state on a trip with Sarah. So we were on our own this time. I ended up paddling for a couple right in position but fear held me back at the last minute, despite everyone hooting me to go. This only added to my frustration. I knew I would eventually go on one but it needed to be the right one.

All of a sudden, I found the courage I needed, turned round and paddled into a decent one. It wasn’t a bomb but was enough to warm up on, although I fell at the bottom. The wave broke over me instead of hitting me and I just popped up. I got lucky and paddled back out right away.

Next, I was in line for a bomb. I knew I was in the right spot, but a local guy, Ryan, screamed, ‘Go!!!!! You’re in the slot!’

That was enough to make me commit. I put my head down and stroked into the biggest wave of my life so far – and stood up! The wind was howling up the face and trying to lift the nose of my 10’0” board, so I stomped my front foot down to keep it connected to the wave. I remember seeing, in the corner of my eye, the lip pitch out and land. I’d never seen a wave that big break so close to me. I made it to the bottom without getting bounced off and began to bottom turn.

It was only then that I realised how big the wave actually was, as I was able to look up at the wall as I put my board on a rail and pulled up the face before kicking out. I let out a really high-pitched scream that was more likely to come from a girl’s mouth than a man’s. I was so stoked!

I looked out to where Emmet was and he was sitting astride his board with both hands in the air screaming, ‘YEEEEEOOOOOOOO!’

He was stoked for me! It was almost as if that was all we needed to get us going. We just needed one of us to ride one big one and make it, and then we would find the confidence to ride more.

Within about five minutes, Emmet also rode his first proper one, and we spent the afternoon catching waves with only a handful of other guys out. I was so relieved. All of a sudden, the stress and pressure I was putting myself under was lifted and I was actually able to enjoy the experience of being out there. It was as if the first proper wave was enough to blow away some of the fear and allow me to take some chances and ride the waves I had dreamed about. Between waves, when I was paddling back out, I realised that I was living my dream. I was actually riding the waves I had dreamed of since I was 13. It was incredible!........

(c)2019 Al Mennie

Big Wave Surfer - Ocean Adventurer - Author - Black Belt - Causeway Coast
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