The dawn (SUP) Patrol

The annoying buzz from the alarm clock rouses you from your dreams and you drag your weary carcass from under the duvet, stumbling as you go to the bathroom. Splashing cold water on to your face, encouraging bleary eyes to open, a shudder flows down your spine from the chill. Slowly but surely your foggy consciousness clears as you inspect your bedhead reflection in the mirror.

Pulling on a hoody and jeans you head downstairs for a much needed caffeine hit, trying in vain not to wake the whole house. As you brew a pot of fresh coffee you note the early hour, again, and peer out of the window into the imposing darkness. Although the gloom still envelopes the outside world within 20 minutes those first rays of light will appear above the horizon and morning will have broken.

Gulping down strong coffee and nibbling a quick snack from the fridge you grab your slightly damp wetty, pull your beanie down low, don a toasty snowboard jacket, slip into your comfiest kicks and head outdoors into the frosty morning air.

As you emerge from the warm confines of your cosy abode winter’s vice like grip wraps itself around your throat and causes a sharp intake of cold air. Cool moist oxygen fills your lungs and any remnants of sleep quickly evaporate – suddenly you’re wide awake. Jack F attaches himself to your exposed flesh and in a matter of seconds your fingertips are feeling numb and your nose begins to stream. Hurriedly you head to your van, jump inside, fire the engine and crank up the heaters as you shiver in silence.

A thin sliver of frost is glued to the windscreen and you have to dig about in the door’s storage well to locate a suitable ice scraper. Not finding one you resort to using an old credit card stored in the recess of your wallet. Fumbling around with the plastic you eventually pry it free and begin the laborious task of removing ice from glass.

White puffs billow into the cold morning air and remnants cover your exposed hands doing nothing to ease the chill. In a flash you’re back inside the cab with a small portal of vision cut through the iced up window – it’s not ideal in terms of vision but it will have to do.

Your vehicle’s heaters have begun to do their job and it’s now warm and cosy inside your cockpit. Fleetingly consider curling up into a ball and dropping back off to sleep, however, you quickly push that thought out of your mind, anxious that if you dwell on it too much you may just carry this action out.

Memories of stuffing yourself into a still slightly damp wetsuit filter into your consciousness as you weave steadily through the darkness towards your destination. Meandering along deserted roads you spot the first rays of light breaking through a partially cloudy sky. Scanning the trees you try to assess the speed and direction of the wind. Approaching the beach it’s obvious there’s hardly a puff – a couple of flags hang lifeless in the now half-light of morning and a wave of relief washes over you.

Approaching your usual parking space you spot a number of other insomniacs who have heard the sirens call – all hovering around similar looking vehicles to yours, squinting out to sea, trying to decide if it’s firing. Pulling up next to them you jump out of your van, exchange mumbled greetings and join in with the staring competition.

Pulling your jacket closer you note a series of dark lines marching towards shore and although it’s still not quite bright enough to accurately pick out minute details it’s obvious the swell is solid, overhead and pumping.

The significance of what lies ahead dawns as you head back to your van and grab your wave slaying SUP machine. By now the early morning sun is starting to poke through and as you apply another coat of wax you catch glimpses of perfectly formed peeling waves rifling along the sandbar. Butterflies flutter in the pit of your stomach and your levels of anticipation and excitement rise. In a flash you’re suited up, attaching your leash and heading towards the water’s edge.

As you reach the entry point sunshine is now fully illuminating a perfectly formed line up and you stop for just a second to admire the view. Cylindrical tubes are marching relentlessly towards the beach, unloading their power just a few feet away from where you stand. Although the water has adopted a steely grey colour the whole scene looks no less beautiful and to a wave warrior the vista is blissfully stunning.

You attach your leash, take a final glance at the perfect corduroy, give a slight nod to one of your fellow dawn raiders and head into the foam and flotsam – it’s going to be an epic session and an awesome start to the day.

Not all dawnies are like the one described and all too often we end up with a skunking. However, from time to time we get lucky and amazing conditions are bowled our way. Dawn raids can be a nightmare, particularly if you’re not a morning person, and yet, when you do score it good, you’ll thank yourself for rising early and making the pilgrimage to the beach. Winter can be a bummer with the cold but it’s also the time of year when we’re more likely to score solid surf. It’s time to suit up and get involved – after all, you only live once…

Words: Tez Plavenieks

Stay Loco, get sectioned and score one for us this Christmas! Season’s greetings and happy new year – see you on the other side.


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