Editors Note: Emily Grimes is a North Coast Surfer in the United Kingdom, she writes and surfs waves. We have published this piece as it resonates (we think) with the surfing world of colder climes. If you would like to read the original piece on her blog, here is the link.
Like a dog who’s just done a big poo on the living room carpet, I scurry, tail between my legs, to the appropriate members of staff who might be able to authorise my absence. ‘So, um, like, this is going to sound weird but, I entered this surf competition, and basically, like, you can only surf when there’s actually waves, so they can only call it on a few days in advance, and it’s gunna be, like, really awesome. Pumping. The only problem is, it’s on Monday. So, like, it would mean a lot to me, if I could go. Please?’ Amazingly, they said yes.
I had been given the all clear to compete at King Of The Point, a one-of-a-kind East Coast surf comp, attracting the regions finest chargers, and me; ran by Scarborough’s own Secret Spot Surf Shop. Holding out almost to the end of the 3 month waiting period, the green light was turned on for a nice looking double overhead swell with primo winds. Frankly, at this point I began to absolutely shit myself. I actually have to do this now. I’ve only surfed for 3 years, so throwing myself into this as my first comp, the only female competitor and only longboarder might be a bold move. Whatever. No going back now, lets just hope I can make it out the back and take it from there.
Excited, anxious, frantic and all the other emotions that generate that feeling in your belly - the stoke, the froth, for want of a better word - have me awake at 5am. I have tried to sleep for long enough, it’s time for a coffee and to see what the surf gods have delivered. Holy shit. It’s pumping, but I’m sure I can get out there without any dramas. As I come to this realisation I begin to relax. A little. Now I’m just properly amped to get stuck in. Unfortunately, I get drawn for the final heat, which means a few more hours before I can get wet. It’s hard to describe, but the anticipation has this energy churning in me that’s really hard to suppress. I can’t eat. I can’t stand still. I get this feeling whenever there’s a good swell, but introducing competition and having to wait and watch it pump for hours sent it wild.
Eventually, it’s time. Having been fully prepped on the best spot to paddle out, I completely ignore all advice. As I wait to jump I get swept back off the finger rock. Floundering around while the set passes, you can only imagine the thoughts running through my mind as everyone on the cliff is seeing a live episode of kook slams. I decide to role with it and go for it. I paddle hard for the channel, hoping that I reach it before getting pushed back to the close out impact zone in front of the cliff. Somehow I make it. It’s only when I almost reach the gnarly looking right hander on the other side of the bay that I realise I may be paddling slightly too wide.
Well, I hadn’t even planned on making it this far. Now in the line-up, the klaxon sounds and my heat begins. I spend a few minutes on the shoulder, observing the take off zone and watching the guys get stuck in. Finally, I get out of my head. I paddle across and initially sit myself deeper and further up from the others (bloody longboarder). Once I get my first wave I’m happily reminded that I actually can surf and that I do this all the time - for fun. The heat goes on, but really we’re just out there enjoying the swell, calling each other into waves and trying to ride them in a semi-stylish manner. It was so much fun, although conditions weren’t exactly perfect.
50 short minutes and a few decent rides later, the heat is over. Immediately afterwards, the surf starts to pulse and the 6 of us are treated to some solid runners, more lined up and powerful than during the heat. After my second, long, post-heat ride I impulsively paddle straight back out, totally forgetting that I have to surf again. There’s now only 2 of us left out and all of the spectators and judges have left the cliff to head to the next location. Oops. Now what was that about some deep pool I need to aim for when paddling in? I’ve got no idea. Of course I opt for a kamikaze mission through the close out section and up some steep, slippy rocks. What else?
We now have a ridiculously muddy cliff to get down to the second point. About half way I willingly accept that sliders probably aren’t the best choice of footwear. In my surfed out haze I find the entire endeavour utterly hilarious, sliding down most of the path on my bum. As I slip into view of the ocean, my lighthearted frivolity crumbles. The swell seems to have gotten more raw. It’s shifty, heavy, there’s so much water moving about and the sets are bombing. Starting to regret that surf yesterday and those extra few waves earlier. I don’t have the energy to take a pounding, and by the looks of it some of the guys in the first heat are getting some good old floggings. Oh well, I have to at least try.
Utterly convinced that I won’t even make it out the back, I somehow manage to time things perfectly and find myself bewildered and dry haired, bobbing around far past the take off zone. OK, so now I actually have to try and do that thing where I stand up on my surfboard on a wave. I’d preferably like to do it without taking any beatings. This is going to be tricky. Bolstered up by a buzzing line-up - including Gabe Davies, Scotty (no one goes deeper than the shop-keeper) and Cade Dickinson, who are all paddling into some ridiculous drops; I stop being quite so tentative. I take off on a couple of steep faces to close outs and one runner, but I like to think if I wasn’t so knackered I’d have gone a bit harder for a kamikaze drop. Non-the-less, a mere 12 hours earlier I was fretting that I might not even make it out the back.
After a hellish trek back up the cliff (bum sliding not an option in this direction), we head to the pub for the results - but more importantly than that, food, beer and surfed out shit talk with an incredible crew of surfers. Kris Fairest deservedly took the crown after charging both his heats. A new category of ‘queen of the point’ was created, there was stiff competition (just me), but I managed to snag that one. Next year I’m gunning for King. All in all, I can’t think of a better way to round off an epic winter. East Coast, please don’t slumber for too long - we love you. See you next winter.