foto whatever

by Graham

Fotos here and below them is a prose post (finally!) after ages of nothing. It’s the first installment of my experiences and feelings of this crazy crazy summer. I wrote a few thousand words before the weekend in order to post on Friday, but WordPress’ auto save wasn’t so auto. It’s fine; revision is good for the soul. *Click “Save Draft”*










Last Monday marked the end of the American Summer. And a hell of a summer it was. I’ve been across the country at least 6 times and up and down the West Coast. I lost a tooth, lost part of my soul, but also found out a lot about myself in the process. I’m sorry to everyone who contacted me asking for more written content on surf-matic. Up till now, I just wasn’t able to get outside of my self reflection. Well, here goes a shot at encapsulating the last 3 months:

My original plan for the summer was to put most of my energy into the AWT. After the first event in California, I was disappointed with my 3rd place. But Levi and Brawzhino were sailing really well and I vowed to do better in the next competitions. “A podium is not too bad”, I told myself.

Pistol River, Oregon was the next contest and it turned out to be even worse for me than the first.

On the first wave in my second heat, I pulled a backside 360 and a cutback and then went for a taka on the last section. I fell on the taka and in doing so messed up what would have been a really high scoring wave. I was annoyed. Plus, takas are supposed to be my safety move!

On the next wave (my 2nd wave of that heat), I hit the lip just as the wave was coming over a particularly shallow part of the sand bank, making the wave more hollow than I expected. This threw me forward and into the sand. I didn’t want to go head first into the bottom with all the power of the wave behind me, so I tried to keep everything level even though I was pretty sure I was going to wipe out.

My face smashed into the boom head. After tumbling in the whitewater, I came to the surface with cups of blood in my mouth. My gums were cut (that was obvious) and I thought that maybe I had lost a significant chunk of my lip. This worried me so I put my hands to my face trying to find out the exact source of all the blood. It was somewhere around that time that I realized I was missing one of the top front teeth.

I tried to sail the rest of the heat. My mouth was screaming with blood and pain. The blood and pain surprisingly did not seem to matter. More important, my vanity was freaking out. Losing the tooth was strangely emotionally upsetting and I couldn’t quite put a good heat together, losing by .5 in the end.

My body is covered in scars from the many many many injuries I’ve had in my life, but losing a tooth affected me more than all of those scars combined. Apparently, one of the most common nightmares is one where the dreamer loses his teeth. Interpretations of the nightmare have it signify insecurity or a fear of a loss of power. I’m not about to get Freudian and start analyzing dreams but I will say that there’s something special about teeth. Maybe because they never grow back? Skin will heal and so will bones but a broken tooth is broken forever. Teeth are also one of the most visible parts of the body. People notice teeth. Oh, and did I mention that you need teeth just to eat? Not being able to eat definitely made me feel powerless.

But despite all that and the pain from the cold wind and cold water against the exposed pulpy nerve, I tried to come back in the double elimination. I sailed well, putting together solid and well-thought heats. But in a very strange judging call, I didn’t advance into the semi finals. Most people thought I’d won the heat, so the head judge paused the contest for ~30 minutes to check and check and check the score sheets. Apparently I didn’t pass the heat. I think it’s a strange call, but I’m fine with it; after all, I was sailing in the heat, not watching it. I ended up 5th in the competition. I lost a tooth and the podium.

After Pistol, I was pissed. I didn’t have a tooth and I felt completely disillusioned about the American Windsurfing Tour for which I originally had so much hope. To back up my feelings, local sponsors and volunteers grumbled about feeling short-changed by the management and sailors questioned the judging. Just as my tooth ached in throbs of pain, I yearned at times for the PWA organization and format.

My tooth took precedent. I needed to get it fixed really well so I chose a dentist at a friend’s recommendation. He happened to be in Palo Alto, tying me to the Bay Area for all the different appointments needed to fix my tooth.

During that time I tried to hook up with a bunch of local shops. I made it out to the Delta to visit Delta Windsurfing and the crew that works there. I had an amazing time and learned about the history of their spot (I’ll post a story here before too long). I also sailed a few times with Davenport local Joe Ray (the owner of Davenport Surf and Sail).

This sailing was so completely opposite of the contests. I would arrive at the California beach with just 2 sails in the car (sometimes only 1, a 4.7). One day, Joe showed me a favorite spot of his. 2 kiters were the only people on the water, and the waves were chest-high and peeling. I rigged a 5.3 Ezzy Elite (the best sail I have ever used by far) and walked down the cliff to the water.

The session was as perfect as windsurfing gets. Yeah, there were no judges or photographers or even other pros, but what do those things actually have to do with windsurfing? Nothing. Windsurfing is about the individual finding his place in the sea. And on that day with Joe Ray, I found mine. Riding the little waves, all my cares and frustrations disappeared.

I might have even been laughing on the water it was so much fun. Chasing lips and throwing tricks to be in the flow of the waves, I felt as content as ever. One of the 2 kiters even went into the beach to watch my windsurfing. And when I came in for a break, he thanked me for the session and said that it made him consider getting back into windsurfing. I’ve never had such an amazing compliment in my life.

That one session was followed by many other California days of pure windsurfing. They taught me a basic lesson that I was stupid enough to forget. The only competition that belongs in windsurfing is the competition of the individual vs himself. Why should windsurfing be judged? And how can it be judged? Our sport is so subjective. It is an expression of the self, of the soul. So what maybe appears to be faults in judging or organization is actually just a truth of our sport. Competition has very little place.

Case in point: during these American contests, windsurfers from all over come to watch. But if the conditions are good, they choose to be a windsurfer rather than a spectator, sailing at the beach nearby rather than watching the competition. Isn’t that lovely?

Anyway, I don’t have any pictures from my California Soul Sessions, but I do have some from fun Maui Summer Days and the contests. I’ll post some below.

Over the next week or so, I’ll do a few more posts about the summer. There is a lot to talk about! Topics include Josh Angulo, excess baggage, and much more.