Surf Survival, A Life Lesson

by Landon Hartstein

 

The thrill of catching a wave and rippin’ along down the line is addictive. Sometimes my addiction makes me do stupid things and risk more than I should.

I was living in New Zealand, on a 200 acre farm two kilometres down the Whanakai walkway from Sandy Bay--a beautiful, horseshoe shaped, sandy bay with an estuary leading to the sea. When the swell and winds aligned, the shifty sand bank produced an incredible wave.  


It had been storming for a few days and the surf was definitely “up”. Even though it was raining, it didn’t calm the winds. The water was choppy and the waves could easily be considered “over-head”. I paddled out alongside the protection of the cliff, using the rocks as a rip.

Once I was outside, I knew I was in trouble. A huge wave rose up right in front of me and I realized I didn’t get far enough out of the danger zone. I ducked my board under the wave. As I pushed through, I could feel the power of the wave pull me backwards and got a deeper sense of just how dangerous my situation was. 

Humbled, I decided I shouldn’t mess around out there and would try to get back to shore immediately but I was already outside and I’d have to attempt at least one wave to get back in. Well, that’s what I came out for, I thought. One wave. 

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