Mr. Zinc


The alarm droned at 5am and I wanted to hit snooze but I had sabotaged myself the night before by positioning it across the room.  I was up so I made some coffee and hopped in the “Smelter” for the 5 minute ride to Duranbah.  The tide was low and the waves did not look very appealing in the pre-dawn light.  There were only 10 guys out and the sun had just started to peak above the horizon.  “It’s better than watching T.V.  I’ll give it a float,” I convinced myself.  The water was transparent and little fish darted around below me as I paddled out.  The waves were more fun than I had anticipated.  I was letting the caffeine set in when a little shoulder high nugget rolled in.  At this point the next 10 seconds seemed to go in slow motion.  I saw a guy on a mal (Australian for funshape board) paddling for the peak.  He was a bit far back and had an awful lot of zinc sunscreen on his face for 545 a.m.  I watched as he stood up…or I should say attempted to…since the nose of his board pearled instantly.  As this happened, he threw his hands straight up, his eyes turned to saucers, and he opened his mouth wide to let out a shriek.  I instantly spun around and dug as hard as I could for the wave.  As I stood up I looked back to see Mr. Zinc’s scream stifled as he face planted into the clear water.  I could barely contain my laughter as I dropped into the 4 foot double up and hooked a bottom turn right into the belly of the “beast” (I’m using the term liberally here.).  The wave stood at attention on the sandbar and then inhaled me.  I could see the sun peering through the translucent lip and for a second I assumed the wave was going to swallow me whole and deposit me on the sandbar with Mr. Zinc.  Instead, it spit me out into the daylight like a sip of rancid milk.  I was so stoked that I started fist pumping the air like a kook!  I looked over and saw a 10 year old kid laughing.  I’m not sure if he was laughing at my awkward contortions or Mr. Zinc but there is a good chance that it was a bit of both.


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It was January 1st and I was feeling pathetic after a night of staying up late and inflicting harm on my unfortunate liver.  No one wanted to do anything and I couldn’t bear to ring in the New Year on the couch watching TV.  After begging and pleading, I was able to get Ted to go for a float with me.  The influential line was that my New Year’s resolution was to reach 250 surf sessions for the year.  I normally pass on resolutions.  My last…which at this point I was seriously reconsidering…was to avoid alcohol for the month of January.  That was several years ago and I realized how irritating drinkers are when you are not one of them.  Anyways, I threw out the 250 session resolution as a Hail Mary to get Ted to get off of his couch and it worked.  I didn’t really consider the goal feasible at first.  That day the Jacksonville water was cold and clear and the waves were small, but I was grateful to get outside.  As the year wore on, I became more determined with the 250 goal.  Did the resolution make me a better person?  No.  Did it help anyone?  No.  Was it greedy and self-serving?  Absolutely.  Numerous times I said (usually in a whiny voice), “But Nug, I’ll never accomplish my New Year’s Resolution if I don’t surf today!”  Surprisingly, this plea worked repeatedly.  On December 17th I paddled out at the Wreck in Byron Bay for my 250th session on a tiny day that resembled that 1st session of the year except for the fact that it was about 90 degrees…errr 34 Celsius outside.  After the float I skipped back to the campervan with a huge smile on my face and said, “Nug, I hit my goal.  That was session 250!”  She looked at me and said, “Thank God!  Now we can finally stop this wild goose chase for waves!”  I nervously laughed to myself and responded, “Sorry baby, the chase never ends.”  Of course I may have just thought that instead of actually saying it.

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