Homecoming

Lots of waves have evocative names, but not this spot. It's a wave at the south end of a working class beach, simply called The Point. I grew up on the hill overlooking this short slab of a wave & I've been surfing out there for nearly twenty five years. I have a lifetime of surfing memories invested in this abrupt stretch of sandstone reef.

When I was a grom, it was a fairly heavily localised part of the coast. It was the kind of place where older crew would send you in even before you rocked off the sketchy jump off spot. Sometimes it wasn't pretty. There'd be bleeding noses. Thrown rocks. Vandalism in the carpark. But I put in the time & over the years I managed to earn a place in the lineup.

Some of my best moments in a surfing life are embedded here.

Now I live half an hour's drive north, but when the conditions are right, every once in a while, I still like to revisit my old childhood stomping grounds: to feel the draw of swell as it rears in steps & ladders on the shelf, to throw myself in hopeful abandon over the edge like I have so many times before, to watch the wild grand swing of the lip as it wheels overhead like some mad wonderful light catcher, to travel once again through the spinning watery caves of childhood, to emerge joyous & laughing & grateful in the clean air.

My tongue is too inadequate to tell of the happiness & connection & nostalgia I have experienced in this small piece of seascape. I lived & breathed this wave for years, dreamt about it, designed boards for it, monitored its moods daily like an old lover, thought about it endlessly, never missed a swell.

So last week I bumped into an old fellow Point rider. I haven't laid eyes on him for many years. But he told me he had some photos of me surfing out there from last winter, even though I had no idea he'd even been shooting. He emailed them through to me a few days ago. It wouldn't seem like a big deal to anyone else, but I'm stoked. After over nearly a quarter of a century of surfing this wave, I have less than a handful of photos. So here's a few. I'm much older, much less proficient, much more slow & wobbly, much less certain of myself, but still having a dig at The Point on my own handmade surfboard, like I was so many years before.

Joy.



Photos: Nathan Shanks

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