Having a selection of wave riding vehicles to choose from has more than one advantage. The benefit I take advantage of most is being able to choose the way I want to ride waves, which sometimes results in bringing only one board to the beach and finding a way to make it work. If I bring several options to the beach, I can also adjust that choice based on the conditions I find. And to add to the list of benefits, I can also change my wave vehicle mid-session, which is what I did yesterday.
I'm out of shape, so I started by selecting the options which make for an easier time catching waves. I brought my V-Pin, my 6'8" Quad, my 6' GeeBee, and my Fourth Gear Flyer surfmat. When I got to the beach I found conditions were bumpy, and I checked a few spots before settling on a spot that had nobody out. I figured it would be a good opportunity to test the limits on the longboard because the waves were 6' and fast. I surfed for about an hour doing alright before the crowd developed and I was getting backdoored by the shortboarders. I was the only longboarder at a typically shortboard spot. The wave is often surfable on a longboard, but I've only ever seen one other person do it. So, accepting the general consensus, I took a wave in.
As I walked back to my car I watched as waves went unridden along the inside part of the point. They were unridden because there wasn't much too them, a slow rolling wall, a short section into a closeout on the shore. I wasn't wave-satiated, and my legs in particular hadn't gotten any exercise, so I did something I don't normally do and put away a board and took another one out. Not a board exactly, but the surf mat. I figured I could catch the wave at the soft spot and take a run at the closeout section.
As it turned out, by the time I got back in the water a new group of surfers were filling in the spot I had planned to surf. But that was matched by a gap along another part of the point, which I filled in. I took a few smaller ones, cleaning up whatever leftovers I could. Then a bigger set came. I saw it coming and was moving toward the takeoff spot when the first one hit, catching the pack out of position. Two guys went for the first one leaving me in the best position for the second one. I took it and got a really fast and long ride out of it. I struggled when the lip caught me and I went sideways loosing forward speed, but the wave gave me time to recover and redirect down the line. I was going so fast by the time the crossing bumps hit me, I went flying through the air! I hadn't expected it and lost grip on the mat. I landed mid-face and bodysurfed down the face and was hit by the whitewater. I bailed out before the inside closeout, not wanting to be out of control and possibly get hurt by the thump. I had to swim in not knowing where the mat had ended up. By the time I got to the sand, another surfer had recovered my mat and placed it on a rock for me. Cheers!
I hadn't gotten my fill, and while the filling tide was making the waves worse for the shortboarders, the waves were still a good shape for matting. I caught a few more before deciding that the tide was to high even for me.
I was one of the first five people to paddle out in the pre-dawn light, and three hours later one of the last five people to give up on the spot as the tide killed it. It's unusual for me to take full advantage of every opportunity, but I'm glad I did. It's something I need to get better about considering my opportunities are fewer and fewer now that I'm a dad. I was considering this as I watched a few more waves try to overcome the high tide break along the point. There was one guy who was rewarded in staying out longer than everyone else, and he caught at least one more good waves in the time it took me to change into dry clothes. Sometimes I see this happen and regret not staying in the water to take advantage of these remnant waves. This time though I had no regrets. I had noticed this guy earlier and he had been struggling to get his share of waves in the crowd. He worked for that wave and he deserved it. I got my share and didn't need to feel like I had missed any opportunity.