Sandy Beach: The Paralyzer

On the joys and debilitating fears of bodysurfing

| posted on November 29, 2016

It still happens, on occasion, that I find myself on a beach somewhere, board in hand, trunks or wetsuit put on front-side facing front, looking out to some shapely not-too-crowded waves. My focus at this point goes full laser. I will perhaps respond to questions, but otherwise not talk. Wife and child are G6-ed off to a Siberian-distant point of my conscious mind, put in comfortable quarters, and told to entertain themselves. Work? I can’t even spell the word. I am going surfing, and I will do one of two things. Ride with power, style and flow, or set myself on fire trying.

Doesn’t that sound horrible? It is. I cannot, and have never been able to, surf casually, lightly. This is mostly why I don’t surf much any more. I hope to learn in the years to come. I very much want to paddle out and ride and not give a fuck how well I ride. But I’m not there yet.

Meanwhile, more often than not, if given a choice, I will bodysurf. Part of me appreciates the full-circleness, because I started out bodysurfing, lo all those many years ago. Riding waves at 56 in the same manner I did when I was six — this strikes a nice balance. Makes it seem as if the whole obsessive, excessive, time-sucking excursion into surfing was worthwhile. I loved it then, and love it just as much today. How many things can I say that about? French fries. The Beatles. That’s about it. But again, the most direct route to that happy place is through bodysurfing, not board-surfing.

More to the point: shorebreak bodysurfing. What we used to call bodywhomping. No fins, no handplane. Jump forward into the wave face, angle into the tube, glory in the view for a moment, and submit to the beatdown. The beatdown is the best part. Huff those negative ions. Live in white noise. Twenty therapeutic minutes in the shorebreak means a quick dozen tubes attached to a dozen miniature thrashings, and I walk up the beach afterwards just glowing. Every time. Never had a bad bodysurfing session in my life.

Sandy Beach is my dream spot these days. Let’s be clear, though. Waist-high Sandy, maybe shoulder-high at the biggest. Six-foot, double-up, lava-atomizing Sandy Beach? Honestly, I don’t know how City and County of Honolulu officials sleep at night, allowing people to get anywhere near those death-hole waves. Pe’ahi does not kill or paralyze — at least, not yet. Sandy does so on the regular. “Broke Neck Beach” is the charming nickname it often goes by.

But whatever gets you off, I guess. Hardcore Sandy Beach locals are playing shorebreak Russian Roulette, and good luck to them. I do understand. Ride Big Sandy long enough and your number is going to come up, but meanwhile you’re mainlining the finest adrenaline. So you do that, and I’ll take my 20 minutes of shorebreak slap and tickle. All things in moderation, whomping included.