Big wave surf session by Razz Lee

Gilad LewandovskiFeatured, Surf

surf camp for kids los angeles

We got out of the car and walked down to where the rest of the surf club met on a green patch of grass. We were at Manhattan beach, one of the three locations that the surf club met, and the most common one. As I walked down to the surf club I looked out to the ocean. Boom! My heart squirmed in my chest as I saw a huge wave come crashing down. I heard my parents go “ohhh.”“yeah Rozz,” said my surf instructor, Gilad, looking at the expression on my face. He is Israeli, and his accent made the “a” in my name sound like an “o,” and his English wasn’t perfect, so sometimes he skipped words. “These waves are big, but they are amazing, I am so stoked.”“You ready,” said my mom with a half exited half worried expression.“Yeah,” I mumbled quietly, beginning to put on my wetsuit. Near the water’s edge we all gathered around Gilad. “Alright everybody.” He said. “We have a big wave today, but I want you to hear me on this. They look big, but they’re not dangerous. It’s only dangerous if a big wave come and you have to throw your board and dive under the wave and your board is hitting your friend. I don’t want anybody to go to the E.R. today, so remember this. STAY AWAY FROM YOUR FRIEND. And remember. Sets normally come in groups, so never take your eyes off the prize. Okay, you can go in.” We all grabbed our board’s and began to paddle out. Before I went in too, I took one last look at the beach, feeling the warm sand in between my toes,and then I plunged into the water. As I finished wading out my feet left the sand and I hopped onto my board. I began to paddle out. Surprisingly I was able to get to the line up (the place where surfers make a line parallel to the beach, so thatwhen you are catching a wave, or about to get a set on your head there is no one behind, or in front of you)without much trouble or delay from the white water but, when I got there I regretted it. Massive waves rolled under me making my heart squirm. The thought of getting one of those huge waves on my head was sickening, I needed to get out, these waves were way too big for me. I couldn’t even imagine what the size of a set (a series of big waves that break a little bit farther out than most waves) would be out here. Where was Gilad? I needed to tell him that these waves were too big for me, but I couldn’t find him. Finally I saw him appear paddling out to the line up with a few other kids at his side. I began to paddle towards him.“Gilad I think these waves are too big for me,” I whined, my voice shaking slightly.“Hey! Look at the ocean! Always look at the ocean, you never know when a set might come.”

I whipped my head around, my heart giving a nasty squirm, but I was fine, there were no sets. Turning back to him I said “Gilad, please. These waves are too big for me, and I’m only 63 pounds.”“Hey, they look big but they’re not dangerous. Let’s take one wave and then we will see. I don’t want you to miss an awesome surf session.”“Okay,” I said, my voice still shaking. I paddled away so that his head wasn’t in the hitting range of my board. As I paddled I looked back at the beach where my parents sat watching me, and as I did so I remembered the feeling of the warm sand on my feet and in between my toes right before I stepped into the water. Though I knew I would, it felt like I would never feel that feeling again.When I had found a reasonably large space between two people I turned my board so that it faced the ocean. Then I sat down. All the fear was still coursing through my veins and I was murmuring to myself, “I wantto get out, these waves are too big for me.” I would say it a little bit louder when a bigger wave went under me, sometimes my other surf companions would try to comfort me, telling me that it was ok, and that Gilad would not send me on a wave that he thought would be too big for me but, I could not explain to them. I wasn’t scared of what Gilad would send me on. I knew as well as them that Gilad would not send me on any wave hethought too big for me. No, it wasn’t that that I was scared of. It was the sets. The huge looming sets. We hadbeen fortunate to not have had any sets. I would have thought there would have been at least one by now.“Razz, come over here, let’s get you a wave.” Said Gilad.“Okay,” I mumbled, and I began to paddle over to him. “Can I get out after you send me on this wave.” I asked once I had gotten over to him.“I’m gonna send you on a wave, and then you’re gonna come back out. And then I will make a decision.”“Okay,” I said quietly.“Hmmm” he said, looking at the ocean. “I think this is gonna be your wave.Yes. And paddle, paddle,it’s a right, paddle, paddle longer, stronger paddle, three, two, one, up!”I felt him push the back of my board. I stood up and began to push with my tippy-toes, turning my boardright to cut along the face of the wave. I felt the wind blowing on my face, and for a moment, all of my fear left me. I began to move to the middle of the wave, and it began to move me faster and faster. But it closed outand I lept off my board, just as the two sections of foamy white water met. I felt the leash of my board tug at myankle but I restrained it and yanked my ankle back, pulling my board back towards me. My feet couldn’t quitetouch the bottom. Before I hoisted myself back onto my board I looked at the shore and saw my parents watching me. I waved and they waved back. I hopped on my board and looked back out at the ocean. My heart plummeted.
All my fear came shooting back to me. I paddled. I paddled harder than I had ever paddle in my life.The huge set was getting larger and closer to breaking by the second. I wasn’t going to make it. There was no way. I started to slow down my paddling, beginning to turn around. But no. I had to try. I turned my board backaround and began to paddle even harder. “Please. Please don’t break on me. No, no, no. please.” I murmured to myself. I was getting closer. I saw the tip of the set beginning to reach its peak. I was so close. And with alast effort I paddled over the very tip of the set. I heard the wave break like a crack of thunder behind me. I had made it. I looked around at the other surfers in Gilad’s group, but something was wrong. They had not stopped paddling. With a twang I remembered Gilad’s voice. “Sets normally come in groups.”“Please, please don’t let there be another set.” I thought. Slowly, dreading what I would see, I began to turn my head back around.How could I have forgotten? I was never going to make it over now. I felt like crying. I didn’t know what would happen if I didn’t make it over. I did not want to think about it. The set was at least a foot bigger than the last one, and my arms were tired. It was getting larger and larger. There was no way I was going to make it over. I began to turn my board around again. But no. It had not broken yet. I kept paddling. I was getting closer,the wave was getting bigger. I began to see specks of white water at the top. I began to rise up the face of the wave, and barely. Just barely. I made it over. But as I rose to its peak I looked back down the wave. I saw about five feet of space between me and the bottom of the wave, but it seemed like ten. My heart felt like it had left me, dropping down all five feet of space between me and the bottom, getting swallowed up by the wave’s mass and crashing down like a clap of thunder. I lay there on my board looking at the huge set that had just crashed. I lay there for a while watching as the set got smaller and smaller. Fading away until finally it was hedup upon the shore. My eyes drifted toward my parents. I longed to be on the shore beside them.“Hey! Rozz!” Gilad said, breaking my train of thought. “Let’s get you another wave.”I began to paddle Over to him. Suddenly another shot of fear went through me. “What if there was another set?” I stopped paddling and whipped my head back around, but I was okay. There was no set.“Come on Rozz.” said Gilad, and I began to paddle again, turning my head back toward him. Once I had gotten over to him, he said “okay, some people are going to get out, and you are one of them.”“Yes,” I said. Joy returning to my heart. “ thank you.”“Let’s see, is this a good wave nope, but maybe the one after it. Maybe. Maybe, maybe, nope.” Gilad muttered to himself. “Ohhh that’s gonna be your wave, yes your wave. The wave of the day. Paddle, paddle it’s a right, paddle, paddle longer stronger paddle, paddle, three! two! one! Up!!”I stood up and began to push with my tippy toes, carving right, and for the second time that day I felt the wind blowing on my face as all my fear left me but this time the wave didn’t close out. Not then at least. I was beginning to go faster and faster as I rose to the middle of the wave. But I was beginning to go too high. Soon I would lose all my speed and the wave. I started to push with my front foot and push a little bit with my heels. It worked! I began to shoot like a rocket down the face of the wave. I never wanted this moment to end.But then I saw the white water coming towards me. I lept off and felt my leash pull on my ankle. I tugged it backand looked back at Gilad. He put his fist in the air and made the Shaka sign I smiled and hopped onto my board so that the nose was facing the beach and boogie boarded a small white wash in but before I went to my parents I thought, “Maybe I should stay in.” But then I looked back at the ocean and saw another huge set come barreling down. I turned back towards my parents and ran to meet them. Unstrapping my leash and setting down the board.“Well I’m glad that’s over,” I said to them. “But, that wave was the best thing that has ever happened tome in my life!