For the first time in years, I failed to make it to the Rip Curl Boardmasters. I wish I'd managed to escape work and commitments here in the far west, because by all accounts the event was excellent.This year's Boardmasters winner is the intriguingly named Brazilian surfer Wiggoly Dantas, who claimed his maiden ASP World Qualifying Series title in testing four to six foot waves at Fistral Beach after defeating fellow Brazilian Pablo Paulino (BRA).
Meanwhile, here on the far western front the surf was onshore and messy but big. I often think that Sennen Cove holds onshore swell better than most places and yesterday there were some seriously large sets in the middle of the beach. A highly enjoyable and late Saturday night meant that I was in a somewhat delicate condition when I paddled out at around 4.30pm (yes, it was a big night), and if truth be told I didn't have a particularly good surf. The set waves were easily double-overhead on the face and I felt a little too out of sorts to commit to them. I had one reasonable wave, one nailing, and then a mauling when caught inside, and that was about it.
But yesterday was a watershed day in my son Harry's surfing life. He's only just turned 13 but put in a real charging performance. This isn't just paternal pride talking. James Parry paddled past at one point with a big grin on his face, having just seen Harry make the drop on a set wave, and said "He's charging!" Dave Muir and the other instructors from the Sennen Surfing Centre were stoked to see Harry surf as he did, and I think pretty much everyone out there felt the same. He wasn't the best surfer in the line-up, but along with James Parry he took the biggest waves, again and again. As I say, the surf was big - and this is a 13-year-old we're talking about.
It was great to see and afterwards Harry was ecstatic. As we are wont to do, we watched old surf movies until late (Free Ride is a favourite at the moment), and talked over the session. Harry paid tribute to Dave Muir and the instructors from the Sennen surf cadets, saying that if they hadn't been out there shouting him into waves, he might not have gone for them.
I went to bed thinking that Harry's life is heading in one clear direction now. It's one that I'll encourage as much as possible. It also struck me that yesterday, Harry moved away - just a little - from his Dad. He took, at just 13, a major step towards becoming a young man. Knowing this, and watching him surf, made me feel immensely proud - and ever so slightly melancholy, too.