Been at the top of my list for a couple of seasons now.....finally got it and got it good...lit 9m, a N wind, waves 6 to 10 and THICK!!!
Waited on the wind to turn onshore in Da Haven for several hours. Watched as the snow flurries gave way to sleet, and then back to flurries. Wind howling offshore, with substantial sets coming in at South Beach. Glassy, glassy....just kept hoping it would back North....
Finally pulled out of the parking lot just looking at the sets at the Blue Stairs....riding in my mind.....just hoping for a sign.......
I was worried that when I pulled into St. Joe the wind would have switched NNW and would be too onshore....but alas, that was not the case. Hit the parking lot at Silver Beach to a sight oh so familiar....sand screaming side-on through the parking lot!!!! IT WAS ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!!
Waves were breaking well past the pier....and that is an awfully long pier at St. Joe. The waves were a bit jumbled, but not closed out. There were many, many options for some insane rides, as I studied the sets from the beach.
Sean and I rigged up a 9 and a 10. I told him that he would be lit out of his mind and he WAS!!
My first tack out, I realized that it was gonna be special.....it was so damn smooth, and the wind was packin' a punch (molecules matter). Turned right onto a good sized swell that jacked up to 8 ft. as it hit the sandbar, and it was throwing.......a couple of bottom turns to loosen up the machine, and the 130 began eating up waves!!!
Watched Sean launch and he went right into a quick back right off the beach....I could see he was ready for the FUN!! Quite a trip watching him hold his own in the Lake Michigan Fall conditions. He proceeded to turn on some wave faces, and I saw him smiling from ear to ear.
We were the only ones on the water, as the temp was right on 40....no more snow flurries, just a little sleet here and there. The variation in cloud colors was astonishing. Every shade of gray....with rain and snow storms on the horizon....we just speckled in a bit of color with our kites in the sky.
The wind slowly built over the course of an hour, and with his 10m getting overpowered and his fingers numbing, Sean came to shore and left me with a "soul sesh".
I effectively removed all other thoughts from my racing mind, and proceeded to get into a groove, and let it rip!!! Wave after wave, I put the 130 in tight spot after tight spot, and just kept jammin'. The conditions were absolutely perfect for TWIN-TIP ripping.
I could talk for pages about the waves I caught....the one I caught on the outside where I had 6 bottom turns before it even hit the inside sandbars, then rode it all the way to the sand, another 6 turns later.....the one where I laid down a screaming, hand draggin' turn to set me up on a squash foot stalling cutback that left me starin' agape at the lip above my head.....but the one I caught when the sun decided to part the stormy clouds and came out but for three brief minutes, is the one that will be forever burned into my memory!!
I had been lured downwind on the preceding rides and was tacking on the outside when the sunlight splintered the afternoon....it was so damn bright, I could barely look at the water where the sun was reflecting....the brilliance of the light was overwhelming contrasted with the dark, ominous clouds all around....I could tell that it would only be out for a couple of minutes.
I was lost in the moment when I saw a set breaking way on the outside, way downwind.....I headed towards the set and turned on the third wave when I saw the shape of it beginning to swell. I rode, in complete sunlight, upwind towards the peak.....the sun hitting the white frothing foam was damn near flourescent.....I glanced back downwind at the forming wave and damn near fainted.
The angle of the wave was perfectly situated for the sunshine to illuminate the texture of the wave....it was so damn glassy, with lines beginning to run up its face....every detail was sparkling with light....as it began to grow vertically, it kept all of its shape. I went into my first bottom turn with my 9m almost draggin' the wingtip on the flats of the wave; I turned over the kite and followed it down the line, and up into the throat of a double head high pitching wave....the first bottom turn sets up the entire wave ride!!!
You've heard about entering the shaft of light....well the dazzling sun was lined up perfectly along the waveface...and as I continued my cutback, I threw my tail out and a wall of spray emitted from my 130, as I curled under the breaking wave....right into another screamin', hand draggin', lit up, smooth ass bottom turn....back into the yellow life-force, and the dream that was reality!!!
As I came to the top of the wave for the second time, I saw the wave began to shift down the line, and I drew out my cutback in order to catch up with the wave's shifing energy. I laid into another turn but realized that I had to lay it down tight and NOW....the perfect opportunity for the "skip-jack" bottom turn I have been working on....I began putting pressure on my toes and and skipped right into another screamin', (but this time) arm pivoting bottom turn that put me right back up to the pitching lip....BAMMMMM, and down the face I went....once more INTO THE LIGHT that shone so bright, it brought out every single detail of the waveface...with legs burning, and the stopper ball stopping, I laid into one more bottom turn.....the wave was barrelling and was pinching off as I came up to the top for the final cut.....I did a lip-slide off the last section, watched as the sun winked at me and disappeared, and headed back out into the darkening BIG LAKE.....
Well, I guess the Michigan crew was right about Silver Beach; I've heard Mulligan, Big T, Bob and Eroc (each and every one of them ol' poleboarders) tell me about it for years......it does get the longest fetch on Lake Michigan on a NNW....imagine that!!