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woke him up early. Every time I got his atten- tion the wave disappeared. Tings were get- ting intense. Robert was pacing now and ready to paddle out, but he couldn’t. He had to wait for me to wax up and get stoked. While Bruce was getting his camera gear set up the tide was on the move in. More waves started breaking in front of us. Everyone was ready except me. I caught another glimpse of the right break

Robert August

tide was dropping fast and it looked like fiſty yards of sand appeared. Te wind blew in an- other direction, the glare was in my face, and it looked almost hopeless. Ten out of my right eye I saw a wave lap-

ping onshore at the point, nothing surfable, but the wind was offshore. Any other day I would have jumped into the water at daybreak, surfed my brains out, and talked story about all the good waves everyone missed. But this wasn’t a pleasure trip. We were here to get as much surfing on film as possible. So far noth- ing was worth writing home about. Back at camp Terence woke up first, hung

over from all the driving. Te trip took its toll on everybody in one way or another. I swear, Bruce and Robert didn’t move an inch. I poked, nudged, yelled. I did everything except shake the crap out of them to get them up and down to the beach. A snake prank would’ve budged em, but Terence wasn’t in the mood and I didn’t really want to go there. Terence helped me get the blokes up, but by

the time we got down to the beach it changed again. Bruce looked at me like, “What the hell are you smoking?” I was pretty sure he didn’t know anything about my stash. Even when we lived together in Hawaii, I’d come in aſter smoking a primo bud and start rambling on about nothing and he never caught on once. By now the tide was so low the surf was gone.

Te four of us sat on the beach and smoked a quarter-pack of cigarettes. We had no other choice but to come up with a plan. Might as well get the show on the road. I looked at the point again. Tat little wave lapping the shore- line was starting to take shape. Right in front of us the tide came in and the

sandbars started producing little peaks. When the leſts started to form, Robert ran back up to the panel truck to get his board. I checked the point a third time. Te amazing wave started to form itself. Bruce and I weren’t really on good terms that morning, probably because I

up at the point. I swear it was a little Malibu, but Bruce missed it again. What the hell was going on? It wasn’t his fault or maybe it was. Te final straw came when Bruce got frus- trated and said something that really pissed me off. You know, I can’t even remember what it was now, probably something sarcastic, be- cause I blew up like someone blindsided me. I think I even surprised myself.

ed, I was crying, I was laughing, I was scared. I was all by myself, about ready to put my white ass body to the test, entering uncharted waters. We knew there were sharks cruising along the surf. We saw them almost every day. But an- other set was on its way and the sheer mind- set of wave versus man blinded me to jump in and glide into the lineup. I let the first two waves pass as I aligned my-

self for the third. I figured aſter watching the backsides pour down the coast I’d catch the next wave. I’d ride as far as I could, kick out, and paddle my ass off to catch the fourth wave and ride it all the way down the beach. From my perspective, I couldn’t see the end. All I could see was Robert down the beach, knee- deep in water holding the nose of his board under his arm and looking my way as Bruce,

gang ran down the beach like racehorses. Rob- ert dragged his board by the nose, Bruce had his camera and tripod in tow, and Terence and James carried the rest of the gear. I haven’t had too many adrenaline rushes

like that in my life, a pure and natural phe- nomenon. It was electrical. Te hair on my neck stood straight up, while another three- wave set was behind me. I realized if I didn’t kick out soon I’d need a taxi to get back. When the crew finally reached the point,

Robert paddled out and Bruce stood on the beach and put the camera on the tripod. I swear he didn’t budge an inch. Terrence hand- ed him one cartridge aſter another while he filmed. Terrence had to do something useful. He wasn’t about to get wet. I thought it was classic, he could milk venom from poisonous cobras or trap a rhino, but he was scared to death of the ocean. Te tide was really rising now. You could

tell it was going to fade out sooner rather than later. Te surf started backing off just about the same time Robert lost his board. I turned around and rode it in to force Bruce out there. He really needed to experience the feeling of real surfing. When I reached the shore I took over the camera and filmed him, the goofy- footed kook surfing and Robert swimming in. “We were just paddling in circles, riding

waves until the tide finally got so high it went completely flat,” says Robert. “I don’t remem- ber having breakfast or anything that morning and I was so darn tired and excited, I remem- ber vomiting.” Te whole thing lasted about forty minutes.

Robert & Mike try out African ricksha “You couldn’t really see the waves up at the

point,” says Robert. “It looked like white water hitting the rocks.” “You know what, Bruce? Buzz off!” I let him

have it with both barrels. I just didn’t care any- more. I was so tired of those two, I grabbed my board and stormed off. It took me five minutes to get to the point. I

walked along the shoreline and the incoming tide was heading in, every little lap a surge of the tide. Te closer I got these two- and three- foot sets began forming a sand bar right into a cove and the wave started breaking outside. Every set became more pronounced. A set of four perfect waves went ripping down the point with nobody riding them. I was so excit-


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Terrence, and the kid stood along the water’s edge. I gracefully entered another wave with all

the world watching. Tis was the biggest I saw that day. As I paddled into the lineup, a shoul- der-high wave faced me. I turned around, did a no-stroke take off and slightly faded leſt, and did a top turn into a feathering wall of water that started to tube over me. Te rails trimmed in perfection down the line and an unadulter- ated warm surge of adrenalin came over my body and mind. I was so exuberated. If there was ever a state of mind where God and man were one with nature this was the experience. Racing across the face, a bolt of energy hit me and I screamed my lungs out while the

But I was alone in that perfect setting for at least ten or fiſteen. Bruce shot six rolls of film and the sequence was perfect. It was the best footage of the entire trip, a definite turning point in the direction of the movie; finding the perfect wave. Funny thing about those fourteen-foot tide

changes in South Africa. Tey were so extreme that the rising water crept up as fast as we walked the tide to the cliffs until there was no beach at all. Te next morning Cape St. Fran- cis was so blown out and choppy, you couldn’t tell where anything was from the day before.

* * *

Tis story is an excerpt from “Transcendental Memories of a Surf Rebel” by Mike Hynson and Donna Klassen Jost. To purchase, visit:

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