Fast Eddie of Ohio, Meet Big Edouard of the Atlantic
9 Sep 1996
Too long but a story that had to be told without cutting corners. Get a
They say the future of any sport can be seen in the kids participating at
an early age. I have seen the future of surfing and IT IS AWESOME!!!
I first met Fast Eddie (I nicknamed him for reasons you will see) as he
walked over the dune path early one morning on the way to the beach. He
looked to be about 9 years old, small and real skinny. His leg and arm
bones were growing out of proportion to his body and he looked somewhat
clumsy - but he walked like a cat, graceful and surefooted. By way of
breaking the conversational ice I commented, "Nice Boogieboard,"
recognizing it as the Mach 7x7 with the creased and bubbled bottom I had
thrown into the dumpster last summer. "Thanks." Eddie said, "I found it
last year when we were on vacation."
I seems Eddie and his parents and sister had been coming to our resort
town all the way from Ohio, for 3 years for a 2 week vacation every
August. They were staying in a rental property next to my place. I
offered Eddie the use of some small fins I had, if he wanted. He said
matter- of- factly, "No thanks. I stand up now. I could have used them
last year when I was a kook and didn't stand." (out of the mouths of
babes, I thought). Eddie also did not use a leash. I was soon to find out
The surf that morning was excellent, waist to chest, slight offshore
breeze, incoming tide and few people out. I figured we had about 2-3
hours before the wind tides and crowds would force us out of the water.
Plus there was always the hope that Edouard's threat of swells would
begin to show up early. My first surprise (of many that day) was seeing
Eddie kneepaddle the bodyboard out, and real fast too. By time I was half
way out, Eddie was catching his first wave, and so began my day of
watching the Amazing Fast Eddie of Ohio. Consider this in the first hour
or so of our session:
- He caught and stood on EVERY wave that came near him.
- From the back of the wave, he appeared to be riding a surfboard until
he started doing things like:
- 720s & 1080s - spinning like a top changing ends of the board at will.
- Five floaters on one wave - 2 frontside, 2 backside and one BACKWARDS,
which he claimed later was a mistake.
- Since Eddie was small, maybe 50 lbs. soaking wet, and about 4.5 feet
tall, he would stand on his board outside the break to watch for waves!
He NEVER fell off!.
- While standing still on his board, Eddie could catch waves by just
moving his feet forward quickly, if the waves were steep enough. I saw
him do this once and asked him if he could do it again, which he did.
When I could not believe this was possible he said he did it when he got
bored knee paddling for waves!
Eddie had one of those skinny little kid bodies that folded up like a
beach chair. When he squatted down he sat flat footed with his butt
resting on his heels. On every wave Eddie would perform some amazing feet
of balance or technique. He rarely fell off and would milk broken waves
as thoroughly as unbroken ones, he didn't perceive the difference.
Later, with my friend Tank, we introduced ourselves to Eddie's parents.
His Dad was a high precision machinist, his Mom worked in a fabric store.
We learned Eddie got the surfing bug when he was 7 and was totally
consumed by his desire to surf. He had magazines, posters, videos and all
sorts of accessories & clothes -but no surfboard. Eddie's Dad said they
could not afford to get such and expensive piece of equipment for just 2
weeks a year. Also, they wanted Eddie to work and save for one so he
would appreciate it more. They thought Eddies fascination with the sport
my be a "phase". He was also a very talented skateboarder (rode an 8 ft
halfpipe regularly) and aspiring gymnast.
Least you think Fast Eddie was just some tweaked out trickster let me
tell you the kid had done his homework. On many waves Eddie would pick
the cleanest and most graceful lines anyone could get. He often paid
homage to classic surfing style by striking the most perfect Quasimodos,
cheater 5s or beautiful Soul Arch poses you could imagine. Rarely had I
seen such a combination of raw talent, poise and physical grace in the
form of a little kid.
As Tank and I sat and watched this kid catch and perform on wave after
wave Tank said to me still staring at the 3 ft of air Eddie had just
completed, "Foon, have you EVER seen anything like this kid? We gotta get
this one on a surfboard." When the tide had changed the surf into just a
big dumping shorebreak, Eddie attacked riding from the front of the wave.
Standing on the beach he would run down the steep slope and launch
himself and the boogieboard toward the face of the wave just like a skim
boarder. Eddie and board would hit the shallow water in a crouch, then
when his horizontal speed was converted to vertical height, Eddie would
unfold, tear a terrible gash off the lip of the crashing wave, turn 180
degrees and speed down the face up to the shore. He did this not a few
times, but a whole hour NONSTOP!
We called him over and suggested he should try to do some "airs" using
that technique, which he proceeded to do in two tries. Next, "how bout a
360 crouching rollo, then come down standing up?" Tank looked at me
whispering "Ten dollars says he won't come close." Well shit yeah, this
is a tough move to pull off. In two attempts Tank was already reaching
for his wallet 'cause it only took Fast Eddie four tries to NAIL IT!
That night Tank asked me to come over. In his garage he was working on an
old G&S 5'2" Twin fin Fish which his own son had used years ago. After
fixing a few dings and cleaning it up, Tank held it up and said, "Eddie's
The next morning we made the presentation to Eddie and his parents. Eddie
looked stunned but delirious. His Dad did not look happy and his Mom
looked worried. Eddie's Dad said uncomfortably, "Thank you, Mr.Tank, but
we know how much these things cost and I don't feel right accepting this
from a stranger, nothing personal." Eddie's Mom added, "We thought when
Eddie got a board, he would work for it." Tank appeared thoughtful and
then said, "Oh he'll work for it all right. Here's the deal. Eddie gets
exclusive use of the board for the rest of his vacation on two
conditions. Next year when you come back, if Eddie gets straight A's in
school, the board is his." His Mom began to smile and said, "He can
handle that." Eddie's Dad put his hand up to his mouth to suppress a
Eddie went wide-eyed and began to look for the loophole in the deal.
"How 'bout a C+?" Tank looked down and said, "Straight A's" Eddie tried
again, "How 'bout a B average?" "Straight A's" Once more, "OK, honor
roll?" Tank looked mildly amused. "What is it Eddie? Do you think this
board is not worth all the effort to get good grades? 'Cause I guarantee
you son, once you get on this little rocket you will never ever ride a
body board again." Tank looked up at me with a look that said "Shut you
Eddie looked defeated, and ecstatic all a once. He looked at his Dad, who
not being able to suppress his smile anymore nodded and said, "It's your
deal, son, shake on it." Eddie's tiny hand was lost in Tank's big mitt.
Then with a whoop that could be heard for several blocks, he grabbed the
little stick and began to bolt for the ocean. He stopped abruptly and
said, "What's the second condition?" Tank laughed, "Well Eddie,
Mr.Foondoggy and I have observed that you are the King of the snake. You
take absolutely ever wave as though it was your own. Now I know because
you only get to ride 2 weeks a year you think you should be allowed every
wave, but that's not how it works. Foondoggy here will teach you the
rules and etiquette of surfing and you'd better do as he says." Eddie's
Dad chuckled and said, "This could be the deal breaker, Eddie can't
resist any wave. He's in perpetual motion, from dawn till dusk. I've never
seen a kid with so much energy."
Eddie's Dad and Tank began to talk and Tank asked if he could call and
check up on Eddie during the year. During the conversation Tank found out
He and Eddie's Dad were both Ex Jarheads (Marines). Well if you don't
think that opened the floodgates.
I wandered down on the beach to watch Eddie remove the leash, "I won't
need it, I'll never lose this board." I talked with Eddie for about 30
minutes about the differences between riding a surfboard and a bodyboard.
He understood and instantly absorbed everything I said. It took Eddie a
little over an hour to get the Fish wired but once he found the secret,
he was honking! He even figured out how to pop those fins for a tail
Later on Tank joined me and said if things went OK, next year Eddie's Dad
might agree to send him out 2 weeks early to stay with Tank and get some
real waveriding in. Tank said, "I've got a real good feeling about this
kid Foon, he's bright, quick, athletic, very competitive and he loves the
sport. We gotta get him in some Menehune contests." As I looked out at
Eddie's fifth attempt to do the 360 rollo on the Fish, I said,
"Keeeeeeeyrist Tank, what have we done here!!?" Tank looked at me and
said, "What we've done here, Foonboy, is launch another generation of
surfers, with what appears to be incredible potential, and we've made a
little boy very happy."
I nodded agreement as I stared down the beach and watch Eddie's little
sister, LISA, kneepaddle the boogieboard for the first time. She
spun around and caught the first wave, then stood up. Outside Eddie was
getting a real taste of surfing as Edouard started to bring to town some
of the most spectacular 4 days of killer and classic waves we've ever
seen on the Right Coast. The Kid was just amazing!
Foondoggy (The kid is a righteous rider)
Hortense - not a big wavemaker, but I'd take her to the Prom!!
Mon, 16 Sep 1996
After a frantic check all up and down the Mid-Atlantic Friday, it looked
as though we were going for an instant replay of Edouard. Reports said
Hortense was moving North fast and would be directly off (way off it
turns out) our home break by Saturday morning. We left work later than
normal and headed for the surf palace, chasing remnants of the last line
of thunderstorms that preceded the cool weather front.
When we got to the beach I immediately went down to the dune path to
check out the surf. The ocean and horizon were pitch black with clouds
but directly overhead stars sparkled as the freshing offshore breeze
cleared the sky and cleansed the waves. I could only make out the trails
of whitewater in the distance. As each wave swept across the sandbar I
checked it's progress..."makeable, makeable, closeout, big fast section,
oooooo there's a little plume from a tube sneeze!" I could only guess
how big it was. I stood and imagined the lines as they approached, formed
along the outer edge of the bar, then came up and over producing the
uniform white lines in the distance. These conditions are what every
Right Coast surfer dreams about ..... an offshore storm, benevolent
winds that groom and shape the swells and the warmest of late summer
water. This is the essence of what is known in the East as a "Fall
Classic". I shuddered a little from both the excitement and the
noticeably cooler wind coming from behind me. The stoke was building.
Later that night I was very restless. Mrs. Foon came into the living
room with a bottle of barely chilled wine and 2 glasses, wearing a big
smile, a Jupiter Beach Dune Dogs Saloon T-shirt....and not much else.
"What's a girl gotta do to take your mind off that other woman?" She
giggled. Smiling I looked one last time at the flickering, time lapse
picture on the local weather station of Hortense moving up the Right
Coast and turned off the set. I reached to cue up some dreamy, classic
jazz cds and said, "Hortense who?"
DAWN: Well not exactly.
My eyes popped open and I glanced immediately at the red digital numbers
on the alarm. It read 4:03am "Damn it, 4 hours sleep is not gonna cut
it!" Already I knew my rest was over. Throwing on some sweats, I
grabbed my mug of coffee, Mrs.Foon's lap blanket, and headed for the
deck swing. The temperature was a brisk 55 degrees, the offshores had
picked up overnight and the noise from the beach seemed promising. Off in
the distance I saw 2 more cars, stacked with boards, pull into the dune
path parking lot, joining the 3 that were already there. Let it be said
when there is an important surf event, our normally laid back Right
Coast surfers show up to ride, very early. I wandered down to the dune
to talk with some of the guys who were both sleepy and excited. Everyone
knew at first light there would be a charge for the water. Several had
driven all night to be here. At 6 am there were 10 cars full of peering
eyeballs sweeping the break. There were even a few Moms dropping off
their teenaged sons for the session. God bless the mothers of young
The horizon was filled with the distant cloud bands from Hortense. As
dawn approached these walls of water vapor would be beautifully backlit
with the rosy arrival of a brilliant sun. The air was crystal clear and
crisp. At first light it was evident that Hortense was no Edouard but in
some ways she was better. Long headhigh plus lines were seen unwinding
along the sandbar making no one think any less of our new best
girlfriend. Before you could barely see out to the break you could hear
the snap of straps being removed from boards.
Saturdays session lasted literally all day, from dawn 'til dusk with
groups of surfers rotating into the break depending on energy level and
prevailing conditions. And what conditions they were. The not too
severe angle of the swell guaranteed 95% long smokin rights. You wanted
screaming pipes with super fast sections - you got 'em. You wanted long
steep walls for maximum nose time - you got 'em. You wanted speed
pockets where the ride started in a crouch and ended (sometimes) the
same - you got 'em. You wanted long lazy climb and drop sections
-forget it. Never happened. Speed ruled the day but if you didn't have
it, the wind gave you all the wall you could handle until the inside
unwound at a pathetically fast rate. Most paid the price for fun, but
everyone came up hooting. Leashes snapped and a few boards got broken.
This was a small price to pay.
The four hours of sleep just about killed me. My meter zeroed after 2
hours and 8 great but not necessarily successful rides. I headed for my
beach chair for a much needed nap. Twice more that day I'd go back to
the well but the very best session was the last. The tide was again
coming in and the winds backed off. A handful of survivors capped the
day with barrel after barrel. Most were turn and burn beauties but
everyone accepted the end results good naturedly. When I finally hung up
the fins I was quite literally numb. A quick bite and a few tequilas
was all I could handle. I thought I'd seen the best that Hortense could
offer. Dream on Foonboy.
Sunday came bright and clear. It was a picture perfect day featuring
again, a day long session - this time with only shoulder high
"performance waves". There were just so many incredible rides the level
of skill was intense. Saturday proved only to be a warm-up as our beach
showed off the very best that Hortense could offer. If possible, waves
were cleaner, better and more rideable. Each and every rider knew they
would not likely see this level of quality at our beach soon. You and I
don't have the time for me to describe this session (I'm outta
adjectives here). Just imagine real hollow, shoulder high tubes cranking
continuously for 75-100 yards! If you had the speed, you were a hero. If
not, you got nailed. No brain surgery here.
Biggest hoot: Four bottle nosed dolphins in a diamond formation cruise
all the way in on a swell. As it rears up, they each pop out the front
and dive back underneath the breaking wave.
Best ride: I'm not sure where the talent came from but some of our
visiting guest were contest caliber riders who really knew how to "work
it." I lost track of the airs, releases, floaters, tube rides, lip
gashing, and head dips. Awesome.
My best ride and scariest moment: I am screaming down a headhigh wall
stuck 2/3s the way up in the face for maximum speed. I've got maybe 2
inches of inside rail and the edge of my right fin holding me in the
face. Water is coming off the inside edge like a fire hose into my face.
I am essentially flying blind! I start hearing screams and shouts in
front of me but I can't see. Suddenly the screams stop. I finish the
ride and paddle out. Two guys meet me and they both start jabbering
about how I just cleared their heads by about a foot as they paddled
through the wave. I never saw 'em.
Most beautiful moment: Late in the afternoon, the beach is just littered
with exhausted surfers who've been nailing it all day. They're strewn
around like cordwood. There are very few in the water. The tide is very
low, the wind is just a whisper and the setting sun shines directly in
the face of the super glassy waves. Along comes a good size 3 wave set.
As each walls up and begins its machine made precision peel, sweeping
along the shallow sandbar, the plume of spray that comes off the lip as
it lifts up shows a brightly colored rainbow for a few seconds. As they
unwind, every surfer stops what they are doing and stares at the still
startling perfection. A couple of hoots go up, a few guys grab their
boards for the last call, but slowly people begin to applaud in honor of
Hortense and what she brought to our funky little beach break this day.
This was some kind of special visit my friends. And at the risk of
sounding stupid, (Cliche ALERT!!!) Gentlemen, it just doesn't get any
better than this. And if it did - it would kill us all dead!
Foondoggy (I am still stunned by this session)
19 September 1996
Next to surfing, among my favorite pastimes is people
watching. You can
observe more people at the beach on a summer weekend then
otherwise during the week (at least in my neighborhood).
specifically, I am a student of the female form and the
beach is my
classroom. You can see more of women at the beach than
too. It never ceases to amaze me how many sizes and shapes
delightful gender comes in.
How, you might ask, can I indulge in this activity without
"green-eyed monster" (jealousy) rising up in Mrs.Foondoggy?
She is a
very wise and understanding spouse. In exchange for my
unquestioned faithfulness to her, have a license to look at
please. In fact, her philosophy is that she should be more
I grow tired of looking. Anyway, I could write pages on the
of what women at our beach think is fashionable or sexy and
done to themselves to appear to be more fit or attractive.
suits alone have seen quantum changes in just the last 4
years and the
massive influence of the Baby Boomers is now becoming more
suits become more practical. Thankfully, there are still
who are confident and fit enough to buck the trend to wear
anything they want, with no thought of what others think.
Beth was one
such young girl and she really opened my eyes and mind to
the pluck and
determination of her gender and a new generation of women.
I met Beth the weekend that Hurricane Hortense visited our
such good surfing conditions. It just so happened I was
standing out in
the shallows of the sandbar taking pictures of some of the
(and not so young) riders, when she came up to me and asked
if I'd taken
any shots of the guy in the red rashguard. In fact I had,
since he was
one of the stars of the morning session. She said, "That's
Rut." (Don't ask, Foonboy, I thought). She went on about how
admired him and that she wanted to learn to surf like him. I
don't you?" She flashed a big smile and said, "I'm going to
today, for the first time, as soon as I can borrow a board."
With that she strolled away. I was smitten by her incredible
was the living embodiment of the word, "Cute" and a real
She possessed the golden, blondish, tannish, Scandinavian
young women's magazines seem to feature on almost every
startling was the biggest pair of (Hey, wait a minute you
be gettin any ideas here) riveting blue/grey eyes you ever
didn't hurt also that she filled out her smaller than usual
perfection. (So there).
Sure enough, as soon as she could borrow a board, she went
She obviously had no idea what she was doing, and I thought
it was very
brave going out in the size surf she did. Her inexperience
her being continually washed back by wave after wave. After
about a half
hour Beth came slowly back in, exhausted by her efforts. She
but not defeated. As she passed by I offered some
suggestions and she stopped to get a quick tutorial on the
paddling into the break. Beth seemed rejuvenated by this
she made another heroic attack on the waves. There was some
this time but she continued to be thrashed by the surf. Four
came back in to recover from the beatings. Each and every
rest for about 10 minutes then saddle up again. This went on
afternoon until she was successful in getting outside. I'm
there are many guys who would keep putting themselves up
formidable waves. Simply put, Beth would not give up.
All afternoon I was surprised by the sight of Beth doggedly
into the surf. Once in a while she would catch some soup and
belly in a
few waves making valid and awkward attempts to stand.
Without a doubt it
was the most determined effort to surf I had ever witnessed.
was out there to give her encouragement and pointers, he was
into riding the incredible conditions we had. I couldn't
him. The few times I was out there with her I gave her some
she seemed to appreciate. Unfortunately for Beth, whenever
she made it
outside, she became a magnet for guys who wanted to flirt.
Which was ok
with me, I got their waves.
Later in the day she walked over to me and handed over a
slip of paper
with her address on it. She asked if I would send her a
print of her
boyfriend. I said sure, but if she'd be coming back next
week, I'd have
an extra print for her. She looked me steady in the eyes and
be back everytime there is surf until I learn this sport." I
absolutely no doubt she would.
Just as an observation, at our beach at least, there are
more women than
ever trying this sport. Not just teenagers but young women
and moms are
using it as a means to stay in shape (and meet surfer guys I
certainly makes the lineup a more pleasant place and I do
level of courtesy is higher when women are out there (not to
language- lot less mofo's).
Beth's boyfriend made my day when he paddled by and
Foondude, you look just like her old man!" Thanks a lot
Rut. (Short for
Rutherford I found out later)
"It was a woman who drove me to drink - and you know, I