I saw the wind was dropping off. After my beating earlier in the week, my pride was fanny smacked, and wanted another shot at the title. So I saddled back up to head out. I unloaded at South Haven south beach again. The wind was further out of the northwest this time. The waves were peaking at about 7-8 feet on the big ones, the average was more in the five foot range. I stowed my gloves, (no pogies yet). I broke all the way out to past the pier with relative ease. 15-20 knot winds being well within my realm of strength. I turned and started watching for a wave to catch. I was immediately taken over by a big dumper that I hadn’t been looking for. I got my paddle to the surface and swept, felt my back clear the afterdeck of the boogie and I popped right up. But I had that pit of dread in my stomach that hadn’t been there before. It took a few more clean rides down large spillers to start to feel like myself again. By the end I seemed looser and ready to roll.
Confidence is definitely a two edged weapon that cuts evenly against either party. I think confidence is essential in order to surf at all. If you don’t believe you can roll in 8-10 foot surf you will swim every time. If you believe you can do it, you will more than likely come up every time until you are so exhausted you either go in, or you have a swim. Unfortunately you may have a day where your confidence for lack of a better term hands your arse to you.
I think having one of those days within some realm of safety is a good thing. For my part I see way too many complaisant paddlers who do not push themselves at all. The reverse of that particular medal may be that they live long, safe, but not particularly interesting lives. I always remind myself when I beat myself up about missing a roll, that I was out that day, no one else would go; and mainly because no one else wants to challenge themselves. For whatever modicum of daring and skill I possess, it is from continually trying to take on larger and larger challenges. I may have found that balance where I can now say that I know what the outerlimit is. 14-17 foot waves and 35 knot winds on Lake Michigan is pretty out there, and I feel no shame in having said I met my match. To those that would laiugh at my sudden turn in fortune, I say he who dares wins.