¡Shrédding the Gñar!
Before we get this post started, I need to acknowledge how good Packy's last post was. If you haven't read it yet, go do so here.
Right. So where were we? Oh yeah. My post.
As the sun rose, the thick fog turned from a deep grey to a lighter grey. The sun was nowhere to be seen, but we could feel its presence as it warmed the floorboards of hostel's patio. The swell that had wreaked havoc on Punta de Lobos, making it essentially unsurfable, was dissipating, and I was eager to get in the water. I had my Christmas GoPro (thanks dad!) and a rented board. I also had the support of my girlfriend and a Canadian geologist named Ryan who didn't want to surf but was down to watch my first attempt at paddling out. All systems were go after five days of impatient waiting.
Surfing a new break is never the most challenging part. Once you're out in the lineup, muscle memory takes over and sure you might miss a few waves or get sent over the falls, but it isn't difficult. The most challenging part of surfing a new spot comes down to one very important thing: getting into the water. At most big(-ish) breaks, there is a right way, and a hilariously wrong way. For my first three attempts I chose three varying degrees of the latter. I had spoken to a few locals about where to hop in to avoid entrapment against the rocks or an endless fight against the current. But, as with most things in life, you don't really know how you'll perform until you're in the moment.
My first attempt ended with a lot of effort and no reward. I tried paddling straight out from the beach. It was a long paddle, sure, but my favorite break in Hawaii is a quarter mile off the beach, so a long paddle didn't mean much to me. After paddling for what seemed like a half hour I looked up, only to find I had made no progress out, but was about 100 meters north of the break. Oh, did I mention that Punta de Lobos is a direct recipient of Antarctic water courtesy of the Humboldt Current? Yeah the water is fucking cold.
My second and third attempts yielded far better results. I made it out to the first and second lineups, but I still was fighting the current constantly. It was fun, but it wasn't that fun. Finally, after showing up early enough to the break so that if I did end up making my own kookslams material, there wouldn't be anybody to see, I tried for the entry at los morros. It's the farthest place to paddle out from, and it's also the sketchiest. It's broken down into several parts, as listed below:
- Climb down a cliff face
- Paddle across a small canyon of water to the morros
- Climb with your board, making sure not to be swept off the rocks, onto the first morro
- Walk about 25 meters out on the rocks, avoiding seals while attempting not to slip on your ass
- Time your entrance perfectly so that the guys that are already out in the lineup don't get a wonderful and hearty laugh at your gringo expense
Luckily, a super friendly Chilean guy was making the journey at the same time I was. He walked me through the five step process, which he seemed to know from experience, but when it was time to make it happen, he said he'd just follow me. Ummmm. Sure. Right. Thanks for the vote of confidence. With some impeccable timing, good luck, and the Chilean's encouragement, we made the journey and there I was, sitting furthest out at the lineup at Punta de Lobos, one of Chile's most storied breaks, and I had made a friend in the process. That day the lefts lined up a little sweeter, the rides were a hell of a lot longer, and gnar was shredded just a little bit more.
Bonus content: a video!