THE KIDS ARE OK

THE KIDS ARE OK
By Corky Carroll

I read an interesting article in SURFER magazine recently where it discussed the subject of the possibility, or not, of a “surf gene.” We are looking at second and possibly third generation pro surfers these days and so the subject is bound to come up. My personal scientific opinion is the reason anybody gets good at anything is a combination of factors. Most importantly, in a physical medium, there needs to be at least a solid amount of natural talent built in. Some people are athletic and some aren’t. To become a pro surfer takes some natural athleticism, and I guess you could call that “in the genes.” This, I would assume, is something that is at least partly handed down from your parents. But, that said, I have always felt that success most of the time depends on the amount of time and effort you put into something. No matter how lame you are if you do something long enough and with the will and energy to improve you are bound to achieve some amount of skills. And if you start out with sports genes then you are most of the way home. I contend that the main reason the offspring of great surfers have a great shot at greatness themselves though is opportunity. If your dad is a great surfer and takes you surfing everyday and gives you clues it’s a real plus. And if you love it and are willing to absorb everything that is available to you, both in and out of the water, from being in that kind of surfing environment then you have a huge plus plus factor. I don’t think there is a surf gene. But the combo of heritage, the love of it, desire to be good and the opportunity provided by a surfing family would certainly seem to lead to a bright surfing future.

There are lots of examples out there. The Fletcher family, the Curren family, the Ho family, the Buffalo family (never can spell that name) on and on. There is a kid that is blowing everybody’s minds right now by having qualified for the World Surfing Tour at only 17 years old. His name is Kolohe Andino and he is the son of former surf star and San Clemente kid, Dino Andino.

I love Dino. Back in the 70’s I spent some time as the guitar teacher at the House of Music in San Clemente. One day an older lady brought in her very young grandson for lessons. It was Dino and he was about six or seven years old. He had a horrible guitar with a square neck. Was meant to play slide style. But Dino wasn’t really all that into learning the guitar, he was into surfing. We would spend most of his lesson time talking about surfing and he was the perfect little sponge just loving all the good info he could get.

At about the same time my oldest son, Clint, was getting into surfing too. He was playing Pop Warner football and one of his team mates was Matt Archibald. Within a few years these guys were taking surfing in a whole different direction. I remember standing on the beach at the San Clemente pier one day watching Dino, Matt, Clint and Christian Fletcher busting giant “air” moves that I had never seen before. Thought about yes, but done or seen no. These were the new OC fight club.

And now here is the son of Dino on track to do amazing things. Matt’s son Ford is a very talented surfer too. Clint’s son Cannon is just starting, having grown up in Kansas being a huge drawback for becoming a surfer. There is the opportunity factor I mentioned.

I would also like to point to our current Orange County top pro surfer, Brett Simpson. Brett is the son of Bill Simpson who was a star football player with the Los Angeles Rams. That stinking team that I used to love and had season tickets to but broke my heart and moved to Saint Louis. Brett grew up in Huntington Beach. Heritage, desire and opportunity.

We all need to keep an eye on Kolohe Andino. Possible future World Champ from the O.C.

CHEW IN THE LINEUP

CHEW IN THE LINEUP
By Corky Carroll

The last few days I have had the pleasure of surfing with my old friend and school mate, Rich Chew. We both went through the Seal Beach Elementary Schools and then Huntington Beach High School. I think Rich was either a Junior or Senior when I was a freshman. We shared a lot of common experiences when we were young. We both played Water Polo. Although it was way too much work for me, and I only lasted one year, Rich went on to play for Orange Coast College.

We also both more or less broke onto the surf scene at about the same time. We were the original members of the Harbour Surfboards Surf Team. The very first time I had my photo in SURFER magazine was in a Harbour advertisement that featured Rich and myself.

In the 1960’s Rich Chew was a big name in surfing and he won a number of events here in California. One year he held the United States Surfing Association number one ranking, I think it was like the first or second year they had that. He was also among the top 24 surfers in the world who were invited to compete in the annual Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Championship held at Sunset Beach, Hawaii. A very smooth and stylish surfer and cool guy. He reminded me a little bit of Skip Frye. Very smooth yet able to pull off big moves at the same time.

Rich is a retired career lifeguard and is happily surfing away his out to pasture days. It’s always fun when he comes and visits my pasture. We remind each other of a lot of excellent times. Today we were sitting there waiting for a wave and talking about when we both were on the Water Polo team. There had been a teacher who was there for a short amount of time and coached the team during that period. His name came up and I mentioned that I thought the dude had been pretty tough on us but at least he wasn’t there too long.
Rich smiled and related the story of how this dude was messing around with this hot chick, a student, who had mountainous sized breasts. I am leaving out names here to protect the guilty. He had come to school one day with a bunch of “hickeys” on his neck. That was the end of that and we never saw him again. I had always wondered why he left so quickly.

Ahhhh, school days. My question is this, “do kids still give each other hickeys?” It was such a badge of honor like in the eighth or ninth grade.

In thinking about this I decided to give my wife one. She smacked me so hard I now have a black eye. Well, not exactly the badge of honor I was hoping for but a good story none the less.

“How did ya get the black eye Corky?”

“I gave my wife a hickey and she knocked me out.”

How many of you can say that? None I bet. My wife’s tougher than yours is… nananananaaaaaaaaaaa.

LAST MAN STANDING

LAST MAN STANDING
By Corky Carroll

The surf was really good today and normally I would be all happy and glowing after my morning surf session instead of sitting here bruised and battered. It all happened because my neighbor, the infamous Iguana, was in one of his weird feisty moods. Most of the time he is moaning about his morning headache or something. We call him the ultimate “wino.” That is because he is either drinking it or doing it. He loves to whine about any kind of mystery ailment that comes to him at the moment. “Oh my head, oh my back, oh my knee, oh my prostate, oh my black plague, bla bla bla.” He is the worlds biggest hypochondriac known to man or beast.

Occasionally he gets a bit feisty, and today was one of those occasions. I might have said something to do with his morning aroma as he was coming down the beach. Maybe like, “ I smell dead people.”

He came back with something to do with my waistline. I think it was, “Oh yeah, well I smell fat people.” Humph. Childish cruelty cuts deep.

“Well those hideous looking Speedos you are wearing should have been buried with the dead guy they came off of years ago.”

“Oh yeah, well the only air you get anymore is out of your butt.”

“Yeah, well the only fart around here is you, and you are an old one at that, and stale.”

And that did it. It was on. We paddled out to the lineup, past everybody else, and took our positions. Head to head surf off. For honor. There was some circling going on and jockeying for position. We would have duck dove under each other but neither of us can duck dive anymore. Finally a set wave came through and we both took off. He was in the front and went for a “fin first” take off. It was pretty glorious too except for the fact that it left him going straight “right.” And the wave was a left. And I was behind him which put me right in the path of his out of control board going in the wrong direction. He totally mowed me down and we both ate it like rats.

“Foul,” I immediately yelped.

“Foul? What do you mean foul? This is not the APS Gentlemen’s tour amigo. There ain’t no fouls in this thing, it’s LAST MAN STANDING.” And there it was.

On the next wave I dropping in right in front of him and faded him deep into the pit. Unfortunately in doing so I failed to notice the class of six girl beginners who happened to paddle directly into the path of where I needed to go when I pulled off the big sweeping bottom turn that would leave the Iguana in the dust. With nowhere to go except straight off, I went straight off. The wave peeled off and creamed both of us. After banging into each other we had to separate our boards as the leashes had become tangled up. The next wave munched us while all this untanglement was taking place.

“O.K., that did it. One more wave, winner take all.” I am not sure which one of us said that but it seemed like the right course of action. We were both bleeding from numerous places on our bodies by this time.

Then it came. A perfect eight foot wall and we were in position. The Iguana was in the front and I was taking off deep. As we both stood up I saw my opening. He had to drop down the whole face to set up his turn. But I was able to get in early and take a high line across the face with a lot of speed. When he dropped low I whizzed right behind him and pelted him with my spray. Almost knocked him off, but not quite. He climbed into the pocket and banged my outside rail as we both gained speed down the wall. I did a little bit of a floater and almost landed on his deck. He banged my rail again. At that moment I did a bit of a stall and he went by below me. I was able to get back behind him again as we both set up for the inside section that was reeling off like a zipper.

“Catch me if you can fatboy,” he bellowed as he pulled into the pocket.

I got as much speed and distance as I could out of my last bottom turn and came up right below him on the wave face. I was in perfect position to make my move. And I did. I reached up and pulled his Speedo’s down to his ankles. This caused him to lose control and his fin released. As he spun out and slid down the wave face he took me out like a semi truck leveling a VW Bug. I took his board into my ribs. He got mine on the knee. We both got sucked over the falls like two old salmon trying to avoid the rocks and not being successful. It was utter and sheer carnage. Mothers were covering their kids eyes on the beach. People were calling 911. It was horrifying. I heard somebody cry out, “Holy humanity.”

As we were helping each other out of the water and surveying each others damaged boards and bodies there was a short discussion as to who the winner was. Seeing as how there was no last man standing we decided to go with who was the less thrashed. The debate is still going on over coffee.

SURFIN’ 45s

SURFIN’ JIVE TO MY FAVORITE 45
By Corky Carroll

One of the things about getting older is that we remember stuff that doesn’t even exist anymore. I was talking to a guy in the water this morning and he had one of the new waterproof sound systems where you can listen to your favorite music while surfing. This is something that I have tried to do a zillion times over the years but never quite got it perfected. Modern technology is a wonderful thing.

My earliest attempt to surf with music playing came about in the late 1950’s. This was in the days of record players. I used to listen to a stack of my favorite 45’s before going surfing everyday to get me in the mood. Well, I was always in the mood, but I liked the music. 45’s were the small records that had one song on each side that we listened to before most of you were born. One day I took my trusty record player down to my pals, the DeCheveroux brothers, house and put it on their deck. Their house was on the beach right at “Water Tower” and their front deck hung out over the water. This was the closest to the surf that I could get and still be dry. I put as many records on the stack as would fit, cranked the volume all the way up and paddled out. To my amazement I could hear the music from the lineup. How cool, I thought. But before I could catch a wave I noticed the music got weird and slow and then stopped all together. The records actually melted in the sun. I was crushed.

My next serious attempt was when they came out with the first portable cassette players. I think they were called “walkmans.” I had rigged one up to wear when I played tennis and it worked really good. So one day I used a bunch of plastic bags and duct tape and set one up to surf with. This was not a bad idea and it worked. But the big problem was that the cassettes in those days had two sides and there might only be 15 to 20 minutes of music on each side. As there was no way to change the tape while in the water most of the time the music would run out before you got more than a wave or two. I found it too much hassle for too little rockin’. And also mine leaked after only a couple times out and killed my walkman.

So I was really happy to see that they finally have got these perfected and on the market. I have been hoping for this for years and years and I can’t wait to get one. Now I can listen to my favorite Spade Coolie tunes while waiting for a set. Awhooooo.

PROFESSIONAL SURFER

PROFESSIONAL SURFING
By Corky Carroll

Not long ago I had the unhappy experience of a tax audit. This has happened to me a few times in my life and even though I tend to have my stuff in order it is still not something I look forward too. On this particular day I got a guy who was the exact image of what you might expect a pencil pushing geek accounting blood sucking I.R.S bottom feeding money sniper to look like. Ever see “Big Bang Theory” on T.V.? Well this dude looked just like Leonard except with a flat top haircut. You could rest your coffee cup on his head, it was that flat. (Note: to you I.R.S. tax accountants who I might meet in the future…just kidding..hahaha).

So I sit down on the punishment side of the desk and attempt an air of friendliness and trust. But this dude is all business. He opens up my file and starts to peruse the first page with a hint of a frown that seems to say, “lets see what horrifying things I can find here to gouge you out of more money.” I am getting a light to heavy uneasy feeling about how this is all gonna go. I know I have everything in order and am prepared. But you hear stories about these things and even though you trust that these guys are going to be fair and impartial, you just never know, ya know.

Then all of a sudden the dude gets a kind of surprised look on his face and he looks up at me. Then he looks down at the paper again as if to double check what he had just read. Then he looks up at me again and kind of gives me a once over. Geeze, did I forget to put on my clean shirt or what? Getting a bit self conscious here. Then the dude kind of gets a smile on his face that seems to say, “Ah HA… gotcha.”

“Mr. Carroll, there must be some sort of mistake here.” He states, as if for the record.

“What mistake is that?” I inquire as innocently sounding as a guy who is rarely innocent can muster.

“Well, it says here that you are a professional surfer?”

“Yes, that is true, I am a professional surfer.” Wondering why he is asking that.

He looks me up and down and grins. “Come on….”

“Come on what? Is there a problem with that?” I have been a pro surfer my whole life and nobody had ever mentioned that you can’t be that for your tax base, including the two previous I.R.S. tax auditors.

“How can YOU be a professional surfer?” He states more than asks. It’s then that it dawns on me that he is looking at this older semi chubby not in the least what you would expect a pro surfer to look like kind of dude sitting there in front of him and he is calling me out on how could somebody who looks like ME actually be a working pro surfer. I have to laugh. I guess I can see his point. When you think of “pro surfer” you think of the typical twenty something bronzed god in perfect condition Adonis that I used to be forty years ago. (Shut up, you know it’s true). This dude is looking at a fat version of Homer Simpson’s father and not swallowing the Professional Surfer as a profession claim written on my tax form.

“Seriously sir, how can you be a professional surfer at your age?” He now sounds like he is trying to deal with somebody who could be dillousional or something. Trying to rationalize my mistake and figure out how he is gonna deal with it.

So I have to go into the long version of how I became a pro surfer in the first place and how I have bull headedly insisted on remaining one through thick and mostly thinner all these years. In a sense it was kind of a long confession on why I have refused to let go of my life long desire to have the freedom to go surfing at anytime of day or night at the expense of most of life’s temptations. Surfing is all the temptation I need. O.K., there have been a few other small ones but they pale in comparison with my will to surf.

Finally, less than more understanding of my status, we plod forward into the audit. There are a few water hazards along the way. He questions how I can claim $500 in surf wax, why should Hawaiian shirts be considered “wardrobe,” and why should I list a California State Park pass as a deduction. But for the most part everything checks out and at the end of the ordeal he reluctantly, and with some head shaking, concedes that everything looks in order and with only a small adjustment I have passed and am free to go.

As I am leaving the office I hear him mutter under his breath, “Now I have seen it all.”

Humph!

PROFESSIONAL SURFING

PROFESSIONAL SURFING

By Corky Carroll

 

Not long ago I had the unhappy experience of a tax audit.  This has happened to me a few times in my life and even though I tend to have my stuff in order it is still not something I look forward too.  On this particular day I got a guy who was the exact image of what you might expect a pencil pushing geek accounting blood sucking I.R.S bottom feeding money sniper to look like.  Ever see “Big Bang Theory” on T.V.?  Well this dude looked just like Leonard except with a flat top haircut.  You could rest your coffee cup on his head, it was that flat.  (Note: to you I.R.S. tax accountants who I might meet in the future…just kidding..hahaha).  

 

So I sit down on the punishment side of the desk and attempt an air of friendliness and trust.  But this dude is all business.  He opens up my file and starts to peruse the first page with a hint of a frown that seems to say, “lets see what horrifying things I can find here to gouge you out of more money.”  I am getting a light to heavy uneasy feeling about how this is all gonna go.  I know I have everything in order and am prepared.  But you hear stories about these things and even though you trust that these guys are going to be fair and impartial, you just never know, ya know.  

 

Then all of a sudden the dude gets a kind of surprised look on his face and he looks up at me.  Then he looks down at the paper again as if to double check what he had just read.  Then he looks up at me again and kind of gives me a once over.  Geeze, did I forget to put on my clean shirt or what?  Getting a bit self conscious here.  Then the dude kind of gets a smile on his face that seems to say, “Ah HA… gotcha.” 

 

“Mr. Carroll, there must be some sort of mistake here.”  He states, as if for the record.

 

“What mistake is that?”  I inquire as innocently sounding as a guy who is rarely innocent can muster.

 

“Well, it says here that you are a professional surfer?”

 

“Yes, that is true, I am a professional surfer.”  Wondering why he is asking that.

 

He looks me up and down and grins.  “Come on….”

 

“Come on what?  Is there a problem with that?”  I have been a pro surfer my whole life and nobody had ever mentioned that you can’t be that for your tax base, including the two previous I.R.S. tax auditors.  

 

“How can YOU be a professional surfer?”  He states more than asks.  It’s then that it dawns on me that he is looking at this older semi chubby not in the least what you would expect a pro surfer to look like kind of dude sitting there in front of him and he is calling me out on how could somebody who looks like ME actually be a working pro surfer.   I have to laugh.  I guess I can see his point.  When you think of “pro surfer” you think of the typical twenty something bronzed god in perfect condition Adonis that I used to be forty years ago.  (Shut up, you know it’s true).  This dude is looking at a fat version of Homer Simpson’s father and not swallowing the Professional Surfer as a profession claim written on my tax form.  

 

“Seriously sir, how can you be a professional surfer at your age?”  He now sounds like he is trying to deal with somebody who could be dillousional or something.  Trying to rationalize my mistake and figure out how he is gonna deal with it.

 

So I have to go into the long version of how I became a pro surfer in the first place and how I have bull headedly insisted on remaining one through thick and mostly thinner all these years.  In a sense it was kind of a long confession on why I have refused to let go of my life long desire to have the freedom to go surfing at anytime of day or night at the expense of most of life’s temptations.  Surfing is all the temptation I need.  O.K., there have been a few other small ones but they pale in comparison with my will to surf.  

 

Finally, less than more understanding of my status, we plod forward into the audit.  There are a few water hazards along the way.  He questions how I can claim $500 in surf wax, why should Hawaiian shirts be considered “wardrobe,” and why should I list a California State Park pass as a deduction.  But for the most part everything checks out and at the end of the ordeal he reluctantly, and with some head shaking, concedes that everything looks in order and with only a small adjustment I have passed and am free to go. 

 

As I am leaving the office I hear him mutter under his breath, “Now I have seen it all.”  

 

Humph!  

DEDICATED TO SURFING

DEDICATED TO SURFING

By Corky Carroll

 

Last week I was checking out the action at the U.S. Open of Surfing and taking in some of the side events going on.  Every time I go to some big surfing event, such as this one, I always got hit with tons of what would seem like silly and ridiculous questions such as, “I bet you wish you were still out there huh?” 

 

Of course I wish I was still out there because that would mean I would be a lot younger, in better shape and able to surf a whole lot better than I can at the moment.  But, in all honesty I don’t wish I was still out “there.”  Meaning in the competition.  I do wish I was a whole lot younger, in better shape and surfing well enough to do that though.  But I guess what most of these people who ask these questions don’t realize is that I am out there, meaning in the surf, every single day.  I get asked that too.  “Do you ever go out on a board anymore?”  

 

It’s hard, I imagine, for the average person who does not surf all the time, or at all, to realize that just because your competitive career might come to an end does not mean that you have to stop surfing.  Baseball, football, basketball and those kinds of sports are different.  You retire and I don’t think you get the guys together for a good solid game of tackle football every day, or anyway, or ever again.   But you can surf as long as your stoke will take you and your body will let you.  

 

I am closing in on 64 in September, the 29th if ya wanna send along some presents or cards with money or something.  I am lucky in the fact that I have set up my life so that I can go surfing every day.  How do you do that, you ask?  Well, it’s not easy and you have to sacrifice a ton of luxuries that many of you have come to take for granted.  Stuff like pavement on the roads, electricity that works most of the time and having a dependable and steady income.  For me it’s a no brainer.  I have always lived with the “surfing comes first and all the rest after that, with the possible exception of family.”  But it has come at a cost and it has been one that I have happily been willing to pay.  I never bought into buying in.  In other words, never gave up the freedom to surf in order to have money and things.  Some people can do that but most can’t.  It’s nice to have a comfortable life with a nice car and home and steady income, insurance and credit cards that don’t burst into flames if you try and use them.  I can dig it.  But on the other hand it’s great to wake up in the morning and look out the window at the surf, down a quick cup of coffee and paddle out.  That is my life.  I am a dedicated surfer.  So, to further answer that question, “No, don’t wish I was in the surfing contest but am very happy that I AM out there every day.”  

 

There are other ways that you can set your time up so that you have at least a good degree of freedom to surf as much as possible.  My pal Keith Meehan sells cars at DeLillo Chevrolet in Huntington Beach.  The dealership is close to the surf so he can hit it every morning before having to be on the lot.  He says he loves his job and Dave DeLillo, the owner and long time Surf City local, understands that he needs to surf.  He is lucky.  I have other friends that became school teachers so they would have summers off and more vacation time than most other jobs.  Some people get jobs in the surf industry thinking that will allow them time to surf, but sometimes that is not always the case.  Maybe if you are Bob Hurley you can surf as much as you want, but most everyone else has to work pretty hard in that industry to get by. 

Working in a surf shop does not pay at all, but you can always work it so that when the waves are up you can sneak out for a session.  Unless you are working with George “Mayor of Main Street” Lambert, because he will sneak out before you EVERY time and leave you with the blown out remains later.  

 

Probably most of you are just laughing and thinking, “this guy is an idiot, still trying to be a kid.”  Maybe you are right, but I don’t think it has anything to do with being a kid.   It is the love of the feeling of riding waves.  It’s like loving having your back scratched or something except times a zillion.  An addiction of the most extreme kind. 

 

“Hi, I’m Corky.  I am a surf addict.”

   

 

SOME LIKE IT COLD

SOME LIKE IT COLD

By Corky Carroll

There is not a shred of doubt that the chills of winter are setting in deeper each day here in our beautiful and Nirvana like Orange County. I just answered a question about how cold the water has to get before it gives you the dreaded “ice cream headache” in my Ask the Expert column. Ice cream headache, for those of you who don’t know, is much like the infamous “margarita headache” you get when you drink frozen drinks. Surfers get the same kinda thing when they have to put their heads underwater while surfing in the colder waters of wintertime. It happens when the water gets around 57 degrees or colder.

It’s getting that time of year. Of course there are all these new super stretchy ultra toasty kinda wetsuits on the market now. The problem with those is that you need to be a contortionist to get in and out of them. Or at least not a geezer with the early stages of rigormortous setting in. The last time I tried one on I got stuck half in- half out of the thing and had to call for help from the dressing room of Huntington Surf n Sport. I guess I had it backwards or upside down and inside out or something.

But we are lucky here in our little as good a climate as it gets part of the world. It gets cold in the winter, yes. But not that cold. And it gets hot in the summer too, yes again. But not that hot either. We have a very mellow climate. Not extreme in either direction. We are the lucky ones.

The reason I am brining this up, other than the fact that it really is getting colder by the nano second, is that a pal of mine who lives in Wisconsin, Great Lake Blake, was visiting not long ago and brought a video made totally of surfing on the Great Lakes. It’s cold there. REALLY cold. I would go as far as to call it extreme and that is an understatement. The movie built up to the big highlight sequence at the end when the surf was what they called “really good.” I guess the best waves come through in the coldest part of the year when they get storms. When the “epic” day arrived all these guys loaded in their car and drove twelve hours through the night and through a full on blizzard to get to the spot. I am talking mega feet of snow and ice and zero visibility on the roads. They were following snow plows and stuff. Then when they got there they had to wade through snow drifts up to their chests with their boards over their heads to get to the water. Then when they got to the water they had to climb out on these huge chunks of ice that were floating in the shorebreak like little icebergs. Then jump off those and paddle out. The water was in the low 30’s and with the wind chill factor the air was sub zero. They had full wetsuits about a foot thick with hoods and gloves and Vaseline all over their faces to keep from getting frost bite. I will admit the waves were decent. Nice little head high peaks with hard offshore wind. Looked like a pretty good winter day at Newport Beach only it was so cold that everything was the color blue. And these dudes where stoked to the max. Then after the session they had to drive back and be at work the next day.

After the video was over Great Lake Blake was smiling and gloating and saying, “see, there is good surf on the Great Lakes.” All I could do was smile and pat him on the back. I really admire that kind of surf stoke and I didn’t want to burst his balloon and say what I was really thinking. Which was, “you guys are insane.”

See what living in a place like Orange County does to you. It is so nice here that we get jaded. When the water gets under 65 we all shiver and whine like babies. My favorite is when we get a milla-inch of rain the televisions starts blaring “storm watch 2010!” Try living in the tropics where it rains a foot an hour for weeks at a time. We are a breed of super-wusses. And I am the biggest of them all. My low water temp limit has risen to mild hot tub. Jumping off icebergs? Not. Yet I still consider myself a hard core surfer. Hard, yet not “extremely” hard, core. It’s kinda like “soft rock.” But, in self defense, at my age you don’t need to be made any stiffer than you already are.

My point is that we should all appreciate our wonderful climate and realize that we are the ones who have it good. At this very moment one of our surfing brothers is scraping ice off his car window with his fin and heading out with the penguins.

life in the food chain

LIFE IN THE FOOD CHAIN

By Corky Carroll

 

I was sitting on my board outside the lineup this morning waiting for a wave.  I was alone and was kinda lost in a thought about something or another when all of a sudden a big fat fish jumped out of the water and almost hit me right in the face.  Scared the heck out of me.  I don’t know what kind of fish it was and I am sure it was harmless, but you just don’t expect some flying tuna to come sailing out of the water right at you.  It brought back a very vivid memory I have of a similar situation that I experienced many years ago.

 

It was early in 1968 and I was spending most of the winter in Puerto Rico.  I had a little house on the hill overlooking the surf and Tom Morey, the dude who invented the boogie board, lived right next door.  We were pretty much the only surfers around at that time.  There was one dude from Florida that lived in a tent on the beach and on the weekends some locals would drive the 4 hrs out from San Juan.  For the most part we were alone in the surf almost every day.

 

This one day we were surfing a spot that was even far away from all the other spots and there was nothing around for miles and miles.  Just Tom and I surfing these really nice peaks in an incredibly beautiful tropical bay.  We were chit chatting about something or another when way off in the distance something caught my eye.  It was a fish, maybe two feet long, being chased by a bigger fish, maybe 3 or 4 feet long.  They were skipping across the water like two stones that somebody had thrown, propelling themselves.  I said to Tom, “check these dudes out,” as they went right past us going what seemed like 50 mph.  You could see the one in the front was squirming to get away and the one in the back was opening wide to try and eat the one in front. 

 

For as far as we could see those two fish skipped off into the distance, the big one trying to eat the small one.  I looked at Tom, who is about as close to a surfing scientist as you can get, and asked him which fish was gonna win out.  Would the little one get away or the big one get lunch?

 

Tom thought carefully for a moment and then very casually and with an all knowledgeable tone to his voice explained that the big fish would win and eat the little fish.  His theory was based on the fact that the big fish had to spend less energy in the chase than the little one because he was bigger.  Eventually the little fish would tire out and be eaten.  

 

I said that was kinda sad.  Tom just smiled and said, “well kid, that’s life in the food chain.”  

 

I don’t like the food chain.

LEG CRAMPS

DEALING WITH LEG CRAMPS

By Corky Carroll

 

Recently I had a question sent to me for my “Ask the Expert” column which appears in the Sports section of the Register on Wednesdays, that came from a person who is a runner and recently has taken up surfing.  The problem the person is having is getting leg cramps when surfing and I was asked if I have any secret remedies for this problem.   As a matter of fact I also suffer from leg cramps when surfing, especially when I have been in the water a long time an am starting to get tired.  When I used to play a lot of tennis it was even worse if I surfed after tennis.  I think this had to do with sweating so much when playing tennis and then going into the cold water we have here in Orange County most of the year.  Probably the same situation with the runner.  I don’t play tennis anymore and the cramp problem has subsided considerably, yet I do still get them. 

 

It normally starts with toe cramps then goes into calf cramps.  THAT is the signal that it’s time to go in.  The next step is thigh cramps and you DO NOT want to get those when you are in the water.  It’s the worst, you can’t get rid of them until you can get to the beach and stretch it out by walking it off.  And they are very painful.

 

There are many theories on remedies for cramps.  I have always believed in bananas and a little bit of salt.  But after this question appeared in the paper I got emails offering other suggestions.  My doctor recommended taking Potassium and Magnesium supplements.  A number of people suggested drinking tonic water and some swear by that.  One girl wrote that it works for her but makes her ears ring.  There is evidently an over the counter product called “Leg Cramps” that is made by Highlands and sold at Wal-Mart in the Pharmacy section.  This product contains quinine which is also in tonic water.  The report on these pills is that they work great and are not expensive. 

 

Also reported to be a savior for cramps is coconut water.  I have heard that a number of times.  If you are in the tropics just grab a coconut, but if not you can find coconut water in most stores these days. 

 

Two suggestions that I had never heard before and I find very interesting are mustard and pickle juice.  I am told that if you keep some of those little packets of mustard around you can suck one down when you get a cramp and they go away pretty quickly.  Well, that could be good if you already have one but I really don’t want to get one in the first place.  Pickle juice sounds more productive, especially if you like pickles.  Just woof down a big mega dill before you paddle out.  A solid case of pickle breath might also help you out with unwanted people hanging too close to you in the lineup too.  Give ya some space.  

 

That’s pretty much what I have on this so far.  I am sure a little stretching before paddling out helps too, especially when the water is cold.