Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 10e  

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 beer-

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 why.

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:

  1. He caught and stood on EVERY wave that came near him.
  2. From the back of the wave, he appeared to be riding a surfboard until he started doing things like:
  3. 720s & 1080s - spinning like a top changing ends of the board at will.
  4. Five floaters on one wave - 2 frontside, 2 backside and one BACKWARDS, which he claimed later was a mistake.
  5. 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!.
  6. 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 new stick."

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 spreading grin.

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 piehole, Foon."

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 release.

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 surfers.

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)

True Grit

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 you can otherwise during the week (at least in my neighborhood). More 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 anywhere else too. It never ceases to amaze me how many sizes and shapes this delightful gender comes in.

How, you might ask, can I indulge in this activity without the "green-eyed monster" (jealousy) rising up in Mrs.Foondoggy? She is a very wise and understanding spouse. In exchange for my absolute and unquestioned faithfulness to her, have a license to look at anyone I please. In fact, her philosophy is that she should be more worried when I grow tired of looking. Anyway, I could write pages on the evolution of what women at our beach think is fashionable or sexy and what they've done to themselves to appear to be more fit or attractive. Their bathing suits alone have seen quantum changes in just the last 4 years and the massive influence of the Baby Boomers is now becoming more evident as suits become more practical. Thankfully, there are still young women who are confident and fit enough to buck the trend to wear and do 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 beach with such good surfing conditions. It just so happened I was standing out in the shallows of the sandbar taking pictures of some of the hot young (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 my boyfriend, Rut." (Don't ask, Foonboy, I thought). She went on about how much she admired him and that she wanted to learn to surf like him. I said, "Why don't you?" She flashed a big smile and said, "I'm going to try it today, for the first time, as soon as I can borrow a board."

With that she strolled away. I was smitten by her incredible looks. Beth was the living embodiment of the word, "Cute" and a real heart breaker. She possessed the golden, blondish, tannish, Scandinavian features that young women's magazines seem to feature on almost every cover. Most startling was the biggest pair of (Hey, wait a minute you kooks, don't be gettin any ideas here) riveting blue/grey eyes you ever saw. It didn't hurt also that she filled out her smaller than usual bikini to perfection. (So there).

Sure enough, as soon as she could borrow a board, she went charging out. 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 resulted in her being continually washed back by wave after wave. After about a half hour Beth came slowly back in, exhausted by her efforts. She was tired but not defeated. As she passed by I offered some unsolicited suggestions and she stopped to get a quick tutorial on the methods of paddling into the break. Beth seemed rejuvenated by this knowledge and she made another heroic attack on the waves. There was some progress this time but she continued to be thrashed by the surf. Four times she came back in to recover from the beatings. Each and every time she'd rest for about 10 minutes then saddle up again. This went on all afternoon until she was successful in getting outside. I'm not sure there are many guys who would keep putting themselves up against such formidable waves. Simply put, Beth would not give up.

All afternoon I was surprised by the sight of Beth doggedly pushing back 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. Though Rut was out there to give her encouragement and pointers, he was pretty much into riding the incredible conditions we had. I couldn't really blame him. The few times I was out there with her I gave her some advice which 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 said, "I'll be back everytime there is surf until I learn this sport." I had 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 expect). It certainly makes the lineup a more pleasant place and I do believe the level of courtesy is higher when women are out there (not to mention the language- lot less mofo's).

Beth's boyfriend made my day when he paddled by and commented, "Yo 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 never thanked her."
W.C. Fields

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