Surfing Motivational Posters

8 02 2010

H/T to Your Daily Donkey

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Surfing Baja with David Nuuhiwa

10 08 2009
Nuuhiwa in Oceanside circa 1972. Photo: Drew Kampion

Nuuhiwa in Oceanside circa 1972. Photo: Drew Kampion

The first time I had an assault rifle aimed at my head I was just 14 years old. Each summer my father would take me to Mexico to camp and surf and on this particular summer afternoon we were headed for K55 to catch the remnants of a massive swell. The Federales stopped our van at a checkpoint just south of Puerto Nuevo. “¿Tiene usted cualquier fusil o las drogas?” (Do you have any guns or drugs?) I shook my head no, still in the crosshairs of the young Federale’s gun.

I was scared shitless. I had just gotten through puberty for chrissakes and I sure as hell thought I was going to get laid long before I had a rifle two inches from my face. After a quick search of the van they determined we were no threat, and more importantly, we didn’t have any guns or drugs (that I was aware of). An older Federale dressed in green, army fatigues came over, sweat dripping from his brow. “Justo surfistas,” he said casually, motioning us to move along with his rifle like he was directing a 747 on an airport tarmac with an orange light.

Fast forward seven years later. I’m relaxing on the porch of David Nuuhiwa’s trailer overlooking the point at San Miguel. The sun is setting over the big, blue Pacific. The island of Todos Santos in the distance. I’m down south with my father again, who had became friends with Nuuhiwa years ago. Myself, my Dad, my buddy Jason, who was on summer break from UC Santa Barbara, along with David’s friend/hairdresser (whose name I can’t recall) are talking surf, tipping back Pacificos and sharing a joint. Earlier that day we scored perfect 6-foot San Miguel. And I mean PERFECT.

David was relatively quiet that evening. His hairdresser/friend brought his trumpet and was playing old Mexican standards and a little Miles Davis. When he did speak I listened like he was the E.F. Hutton of surfing. “You got some good ones today kid,” he said brushing his silver pompadour-mullet with his hand. “I’ve been surfing here for years and I’ve never caught it this good. You’re one lucky sonofbitch.”

Recently, I was thumbing through SURFER magazine’s big issue and sure enough Nuuhiwa was named one of the 50 greatest surfers of all time, at number 31. To put this into perspective, Eddie Aikau was number 30. Looking at the accompanying photo, David hanging five in a soul arch in Huntington, I was reminded of the four days we spent together at San Miguel.

I haven’t been back to San Miguel since, not because I’m scared of the drug wars, swine flu or even banditos, but because I don’t want to taint perfection. It just wouldn’t feel right.