I remember my first wave like it was yesterday. The power of a shore break lifting my entire body and hurtling me toward the beach opened a whole new world that has remained vibrant for the past 44 years.
My start was more typical of an Iowa farm boy than a native Californian. As a high school sophomore I joined classmates on a bus trip to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Prepared only for thrill rides I wore Levis and never gave a thought to bringing swim trunks and a towel. The afternoon was hot and the ocean provided a mermaids call to just go for a dip regardless of my attire. No question that I looked like some valley ho-dad entering the ocean in long pants.
What transpired next hooked me on wave riding for the rest of my life. I mimicked a few guys down the beach who were body surfing in small 2-3′ waves. The thrill of those first short rides was no less exciting than what I’ve experienced since then on a variety of boards in much larger waves for rides that stopped time in its tracks.
The bus ride home in soggy pants with pockets full of Pacific sand was uncomfortable to say the least, but I didn’t care. On that day I became a waterman for life. Although an injury now prevents me from enjoying a stand up ride, I can still share the ocean with my kids and teach them the magic of surfing. Cowabunga!