So there he was, The Offsider, feeling winter start to creep across the Far North in near nonchalant fashion.
The Indian Summer faded, the days grew shorter, and breath now left vapour on cold mornings. The Age sportsbuster was even forced to don his first fully covered footwear of the year to attend the Anzac dawn parade in evocative misty conditions in Kaitaia last Friday. Later in the weekend, he watched with some bemusement as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard slipped over, allowing Chelsea to secure a 2-0 win which may well deny the Kop what was shaping up to be their first EPL title in something like a quarter of a century.
The irony was particularly cruel in remembering the call to arms Gerrard had recently made in a huddle with his teammates, following a previous victory, which had suggested the Reds were all but assured of the trophy: "We don't let this slip, we go again!" (Yes, The Offsider was supposed to support Tottenham, but he had hardly been able to sit through another forgettable campaign, particularly one match in which Spurs completely imploded and handed the opposition four goals through a sequence of defensive errors so bad they would have been considered embarrassing by Northland 2nd div grading football standards.)
Back home, winter sport was in full swing, but the traditional plentiful waves of autumn seemed to be evading him. There was a recent weekend chasing a true groundswell in the east where he turned up at one break to find the waves overhead, the wind offshore and only one guy out. It wasn't anywhere near all time, mostly closing out rather than breaking in any distinctive fashion. He didn't go out, didn't have his board, but standing on the dunes taking shots with a warm wind at his back made him think of the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin III, which had been the only cassette in the car tape-deck when long coast trips were made over the Rimutaka Ranges as a youth.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Other images of the Far North east coast going berserk, which filtered in via email over the following week, only deepened the sensation of the years The Offsider had lost seeking the perfect breaks many claimed were somewhere out there. He ran into a guy at the city dump who went on and on about how perfect and un-crowded he and his pals had been scoring it out west. The Offsider managed to keep a smile fixed to his dial and shook his head as if he couldn't believe the guy's good fortune, but felt something squirm inside.
Some of the disappointment was alleviated watching the world's best surfers attacking the right-hand breaks of Margaret River and Bells during two recent back-to-back events on the ASP World Championship Tour at the end of last month. The sight of ruler-edged lines sweeping on to the Victorian coastline over a gun-metal grey sea at Bells over Easter was a strangely familiar one to someone who had once surfed the pointbreaks of Wairarapa in the heart of winter.
Of the standard on show, the natural footers were the more pleasing to watch on their forehand, making the goofy-footers appear almost clumsy in comparison. The surfing was as cutting-edge as expected, although the sheer technicality of certain moves like aerials and the infinite variations on the forehand slash in the machine-like rights risked becoming repetitious. And, while the action was thick and fast at times, the lulls in some heats and the often average quality of the waves gave the impression surfing was nothing more than a waste of time. It nearly made The Offsider wonder how, if he wasn't out there himself, he could just sit there and watch waves pour in all day long.
The Offsider is Age sportsbuster Francis Malley. Respond at ...