A Surfing Day To Remember
Written for my brother, Bruce.
Wanted you to have some pictures of your little brother so that you have something to point at when you talk to all of your friends and acquaintances! Consider these the equivalent of home movies.
These were taken from the boat which was anchored off of a surf break named "Cloudbreak". A large reef, two miles off the coast of the island of Tavarua, Fiji, in 1982.
Tammy and I travelled to Tavarua in April of 1982 at the end of a long holiday which found us journeying around North Island New Zealand and the East Coast of Australia in a rented camper van. Tavarua itself is a very small island (20 minute walk on the beach and you arrive at where you started) off of the coast of Viti Levu, Fiji. The surf potential on and around Tavarua was discovered by surfers in the late 70's. Jeff Clark, an acquaintance of mine from high school days back in Southern California, built a surf camp on the island in the early 80's where he employed an all Fijian staff. Small huts called Burres ("burrays") made up sleeping quarters with a solar shower nailed to the outside wall for washing. A central hut constructed of rough lumber and reed walls sat on the beach looking over the reef served as the main meeting and eating area for the 8 or so residents.
Of the 10 days that we spent on Tavarua, the surf was flat for only 2. I was grateful for the flat spell as I had impacted the reef, bruised my backside, and needed a small break to psyche back up and get on the horse. During the break from surfing, Tammy and I skindived, checked out a shipwreck, and explored nearby islands.
Above is a sequence of 3 shots on a white board - average sized day. We pretty much surfed all that day with a break only for a noon meal back on the island. Later that afternoon, I dropped into a larger set wave, drew out a big bottom turn and at the bottom of my turn, broke a fin off of that board. I spun out, landed face down, and was immediately pummelled by the lip. Even breaking the board and getting tagged like that could take the shine off a great day of surfing like I'd had. As the swell was on the rise and we anticipated good wind direction and tides in the morning, my sleep that night was light and frequently interrupted with anticipation (and fear) over the coming day.
The next morning, we checked the surf from a treehouse which was built on the island. We could see that it had gotten huge as we could see the whitewater on the horizon. Excited, we grabbed longer boards, jumped in the skiff, and headed out for what turned out to be an epic day at Cloudbreak. As my favorite board was unusable, I had to ride a single fin, 8' gun which was a trip getting used to after years of riding snappy tri-fins. The waves that day were triple overhead and provided a humbling experience that will be with me forever.