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Taking the Drop by Danielle Dubois, Jillian Flitton, Debbie James, and Sheree da Costa is an inspirational journey of four everyday women who wanted to share another kind of surfers’ world. They wrote this book not only to provide an entertaining and inspiring insight into surfing, but also to share their very different stories. This week we get to hear Danielle's tail of 'the paddle of shame'.
Excerpt from “Taking the Drop” – Danielle’s story…
I feel the need to bring you on board now and share an experience, which is one of THE most humiliating of all. Anyone who has ever surfed will have endured this at one time or another and hopes there will never be a next time - the dreaded ‘Paddle of Shame’.
Hmm where to start? ... I guess there’s only one place and that’s at the beginning.
OK, I’ve been out surfing for at least an hour - a great session. Slowly the tide has begun to turn and the waves are now too full to catch or the wind has come up and the waves are losing their shape - no longer holding up. Suddenly the realisation that I’m tired and hungry hits me. The thought of hot coffee and an egg & bacon roll conjures up in my mind. I raise my index finger and point towards the beach, indicating to my surfing buddy that my next wave will be my last – I’m heading in. I’ve had a great time, had my share of waves. I am content. With that I sit and wait for my final wave … and I wait and wait and I wait - (I must have one more good wave, to take me all the way to the beach to finish off)! ...Damn, that last elusive freaking wave just won’t come now.
Ultimately something resembling a wave builds and pops up. It has my name on it. I start to paddle, already visualising my cappuccino and food – damn, I fall off the back of the wave! Never mind I’ll wait for another.... OK, here it comes.... bugger! This time there are three guys on my inside; I’ll have to leave that one. So again I wait, ... and wait…and wait. Finally another ripple dribbles towards me and I’m going to get this fucker if it kills me. Talking to myself, calling myself every name I can conceive, I struggle with stubborn arms which refuse to cooperate – I’ve now run out of steam, and once again I miss the wave. I’m too damned slow.
“OK now, keep it together.”
I mutter to myself as another bump appears. I go for gold, yahoo I make it, and I’m on my way to the shore. “Start cooking the bacon please.”…Oh oh, I spoke too soon.
Nope the wave didn’t hold up, so here I am again still in the drink, I’m only too aware that I now have no other choice than to paddle back out once more, far far away from the shore and the now much desired coffee and food, if I’m to get my last wave - all the way to the beach. I cannot, will not, end this session on half of a wave; nope it has to be a goody.
By now I’m seriously starting to get the shits, I’m cold and wilting and my surfing buddy, following my lead of my indicative last wave finger has already caught his/ her last wave (all the way to the shore) and is making his / her way up the beach – SHIT!!!
I wait for what seems like an eternity, desperately and out loud I beg -
“Come on Huey send one down, p l e e e e e e a a a s e!”
Mercifully Huey the surf god obliges and a nice little wave approaches yet again. This time with determination pulsing through each and every vein in my entire body I commence a thrashing action resembling an electric beater. I’m soooooo freaking keen that I get ahead of myself and the wave - the obvious result being, it pitches me down the tiny six inch face and I perfect an elegant nose dive – DOUBLE SHIT! By this time I’m too mortified to even glance towards the shore and I pray to God no one is watching me. Figure if I don’t look at them they won’t have seen me.
By now the cows have come home from pasture and the day has turned sour. I make the gut wrenching decision... I will do ‘The Paddle of Shame.’ I’ll have to paddle in, unless I want to freeze my non-existent tits off, whilst perishing out in the deep deep ocean. Yes you read it right, I will be reduced to paddling to shore because I’m just too plain useless to catch one final wave to take me in - UGH!!! Close to despair I pray to Christ in heaven no one is watching.
Knowing now that greed just doesn’t pay, I should’ve been happy with the last great ride I had and taken it all the way in, but no, like an addict I paddled back out craving another and another, until now look what’s happened, I can’t buy a wave. Right about now I make a mental note to NEVER be so greedy again, and to call it quits whilst it’s still worth calling.
Slowly now with my head low (so I don’t make eye contact with anyone) I commence my paddle in. Keeping a very low profile I make my way toward the shore as I spot my exit point.
A L L E L U J A H and praise the Lord, I’ve reached the shore - Coffee time!
To that end I’d like to add here that I’m by no means a great surfer, but I sure do enjoy myself out there. Even when I struggle, (and there are plenty of days when I do) or when I make a complete ass of myself, or if I drop in on Mike or one of my friends and we share that wave for the fun of it, or when the weather and the waves are mediocre and I just can’t seem to snag a wave. I still enjoy myself. No I’m not a hot shot and I never will be. I’m not kidding myself, I’m realistic enough to know I’ll most definitely never be as good as many of the surfers I see in the water regularly, but I definitely get a hoot out of surfing and try to get a little better each time I paddle out.
For me it’s not about being the best, but it is about being the best I can be, enjoying each experience for what it is and being able to laugh at myself at least once each session.
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