Stanley's Surf Gear


Surf Stories

UPDATED 09/08/2009

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I am freaked just sitting at my computer monitor looking at these pictures...

I am no surfer. I only did one summer on a long board, then went back to body surfing. The biggest stuff I did locally was at the wedge and Huntington beach but I doubt I saw much more than 6 feet. I never seemed to get there on the big days. I guess I just wasn't committed enough.

Anyway, it was in Rhode Island during approaching hurricane surf that I rode my biggest waves.

First day of real hurricane surf was the most amazing day at the beach I ever had. Clear blue sky, warm Atlantic gulf water and beautiful sets of the most immaculate 4-6 foot waves I have ever seen. It just seemed that every ride was better than the last. They were so clean and rhythmic, you could catch them without even working hard. I was a bit of a purist -- no fins, no outstretched arm for ballast or direction, just head up, chest out like a bullet. With these waves you could drop into that zone arms tucked to your sides and you were airborne. And they were long -- wave after wave.

The next day not quite as sunny, I would guess they were 6-8' with an occasional 10+' rolling uneven, breaking rougher, more work to catch but great rides even though I took more bangings -- biggest ever for me but not nearly as much time in the water as the perfect day before.

Third day, you could definitely tell it was hurricane driven, darker skies, really rough, 10+ and breaking a mess but it still looked tantalizing to me. I had so much fun the previous two days, I thought I was up for it even though there was only one other body surfer, everyone else on boards. It was a big mistake. When I finally beat my way out there, I wasn't nearly strong enough to catch anything except a stuffing. After a couple of those, I thought I was over my head in every way. Never swan harder, went slower and got mashed more coming in. It was quite a humbler. My mile swims and life saving merit badge didn't mean anything. Whole episode probably didn't last more than 20-30 minutes but seemed a lifetime. I can't even imagine what it must be like swimming in that really huge stuff like last week or the 18-20s you're talking about, even when I was young and strong.

This had to be around '68 or '69 cause it was my last family trip back east. Next trip in '71 I hitched. Man, that was a long time ago...

Michael A. Ragosta
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