Sunday, December 25, 2011

Watershed moment of a 90' surf wave.

ESPN columist Chris Jones has just published an interesting commentary with these headline: "Watershed moment: An unflinching big wave rider redefines what's possible for all of us."  It's about the 90 feet surf and the surfer Garrett McNamara, the case I blogged here.
Jones opened his article this way:
THE WAVE HAS NO IDEA it's famous: a 90-foot wall of water that, one day in November, rose out of an underwater canyon at Praia do Norte, near the tiny fishing village of Nazare, Portugal. So easily that rogue might have come and gone, this transient giant, just another one of the countless waves that roll onto our shores, one after another. Instead, a 44-year-old big wave pro named Garrett McNamara somehow survived surfing it -- catching it just in time, the only wave he would surf that day -- and that Portuguese monster became the biggest wave ever surfed.
He must have interviewed McNamara because he has this McNamara's comments about the wave:
"I didn't realize how big it was at first," McNamara says, speaking from his home in Hawaii mostly in the present tense, as though he's never left the face of that wave. "I hardly ever look back, but this time I look back, two or three times as the wave starts to grow. It's like this endless mountain. Every second is so crucial just then."
And Jones followed with this line:
Every second is so crucial because waves do two very different things -- they build and they crash -- presenting two distinct possibilities for the people who ride them. "You can go very quickly from heaven and find yourself in hell" is how McNamara puts it.
That's something rather refreshing.  But the concluding paragraph of the article is even more refreshing:
Sometimes the waves make language obsolete. Sometimes they give it back as a gift. They do different things to different people, and it's hard to know what, exactly, they'll do to you until you decide to go into the water. But they're out there. Right now they're out there waiting, each one a door to impossibility, so many millions of locks, so many millions of keys.
I have never thought about waves this way. To say "They do different things to different people" is effectively saying that every wave in the ocean is different, they are seldom the same.  That's pretty much summed up the essense of the ocean waves.  The surfers experencing them daily and that's the real world.  Now how do scientists cope with them?  The scientist s expect all waves behave according to a pre-assigned pattern -- only allowed nonlinearity to briefly deviate from it.  Even freaque waves have to obey the "scientific" prescription. Do the scientists know the ocean waves at all? 

My two thumbs up for this refreshing article by Mr. Chris Jones of ESPN for a thought provoking article.

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