Perfection

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

It’s not like it happened overnight, but the change was swift. Abrupt even. 

In the space of a few short weeks the surf all over the world began to get outrageously good, like, all the time.

Soon, every day at every surf spot was on par with its best day ever. The perfect size, perfect banks, and the light variable winds seemed to fan perfectly offshore at every nook and cranny. It became hard to remember, and impossible to picture, what the coast used to look like on onshore, ornery or flat days. 

Turns out all those innumerable pressure systems chasing themselves around the globe for eons were just trying countless combinations on a lock that, once cracked, threw the gate open to incessant metronomic harmony. 

Fanned by such swell activity, stretches of beach that were once nothing but closeouts felt a steady reassignment of sand and soon became gorgeous A-Frame horseshoe peaks with absurdly enjoyable walls and tubes. 

Death slabs that could only be ridden by the best and bravest remained that way, but every day was fearsomely, astonishingly perfect. The slab at its most thrilling and slabby.

Soft beginner waves became more approachable, more sparkly and beguiling.

Wherever you looked. It was right for you. Pure oceanic abundance.

And it wasn’t the kind of perfection to get boring. The characteristics that made each break special came into perpetual bloom. Lennox got Lennox-ier, Maccas got Maccas-ier, Toona Point became more Toona Point-ish. And because every day was mindlessly good, you could travel and sample any spot you liked and enjoy it to the limits of your ever-expanding ability. There were enough waves for everyone because epic, non-stop surf was simply there for the taking. 

In beachside carparks the world over, there was puzzlement, wonderment and rejoicing. We couldn’t explain it, but we were too stoked to care. Our surfing improved dramatically, the surf industry saw a sustainable boom. The uptick in participants was dispersed so broadly that crowds thinned to the point where a double-figure crowd at the Superbank was an anomaly. Surfing’s brother-and-sister-hood was an exemplar to the rest of the vexed world – united in gratitude as we were for nature’s blessing.   

It was remarkable how quickly the discontent set in. A few short years and surfing pretty much died in the arse. It became hard to remember and impossible to imagine what was so thrilling or special about the thing in the first place. Pulling into a beachside carpark and checking the surf soon felt no different to stopping at a traffic light. Paddling out anywhere and getting half a dozen excellent quality rides under your belt became as exciting as putting out the bins on a Tuesday night.  

And with familiarity came contempt. Even with a perfect, spitting sandbank all to one’s self, the sight of another individual 200 metres down the beach, solo-sessioning yet another A-frame would annoy a surfer no end. Like I don’t need this fucking dreary experience compromised by another dickhead in my line of sight. So go on. Fuck off. 

And, more or less, that’s what we ended up doing. 

With every wish granted, no desire remained.

// DING ALLEY

Ding Alley is writer Gra Murdoch and illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur. We dedicate this odd little article to Stanley “S.I” Issaeivitch. Stan – a regular poster to the Swellnet forums and an old Anglesea mate back in the grommet days – passed away last Monday after a long battle with cancer. He was a passionate character, a unique thinker and a terrific surfer. Go well, fella.

Comments

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 9:14am

Everyone is trying to get to the bar
The name of the bar, the bar is called Heaven
The band in Heaven, they play my favourite song
They play it once again, they play it all night long

There is a party, everyone is there
Everyone will leave at exactly the same time
It's hard to imagine that nothing at all
Could be so exciting, could be so much fun

When this kiss is over, it will start again
It will not be any different, it will be exactly the same
It's hard to imagine that nothing at all
Could be so exciting, could be this much fun

Heaven (Heaven) is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens
Heaven ....

Songwriters: David Byrne / Jerry Harrison

RIP S.I.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 9:44am

Could Manly become any Manlier?

Sounds butch.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:15am

I imagine Stanley might be getting some of that perfection right now. Did Stan post under “S. I.”?

As for that human capacity to find discontent in perfection, we’ll, we are an imperfect species, and it seems that discontent is playing louder every day. Appreciating all the good things you have is hard work. :-)

Standing left, I first heard David Byrne’s ‘Heaven’ from Simply Red. Found out much later that it was Byrne’s, the thinking man’s musician/artist. Thought provoking lyrics.

Loved it, Gra.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:19am

Yeah mate, Stan posted under S.I.

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:23am

Gra does all the thinking

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 11:10am

We just ate some mushies and laughed about it. Seem to remember after much argument we settled on 'Wind Cried Mary' with Morrison on vocals and Bonham on drums.

Ding Alley strikes another rich vein of artistic gold

Vunerable's picture
Vunerable's picture
Vunerable Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:31am

The picture attracted me to this story.
Must be mid day looks like he’s sipping on a cuppa tea with his ciggy. Contemplating waves.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 11:23am

Ha, one decent seto and he’ll be out there!

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 11:55am

Just casually waiting for the tide to drop/fill in a little more.....should be better then.
He has a striking resemblance to the "Surfer in Blue" from a previous D.A piece.

AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace Monday, 14 Nov 2022 at 2:01pm

Vulnerable. That ain’t no ciggie, I can smell and see the terminal glow from here. AW

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:45am

Save us from what we want...

shaun kinna's picture
shaun kinna's picture
shaun kinna Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:57am

I encountered a couple of very competent e-foilers at a right hand point break where I regularly surf.
It looks amazing. So unrestricted. And therein lies a problem.
I assumed that the level of competence was indicative of an understanding of surf etiquette - the 'rules' designed to keep us all safe.
To take off from the pocket and find a 25+ kg efoil and 80 kg rider coming straight at me at 20+ kph felt like a truck coming at me the wrong way down a one-way street.
When I started positioning and paddling for the wave, he wasn't in the frame.
This is new territory for all of us.
The foilers were either unaware of the risks their behaviour was creating or ignoring the courtesy normally afforded to each other in the name of safety and going home uninjured.
I've been using the ocean for a while and this is the biggest development in my lifetime. They are like a stealth jet-ski.
The promotional vids/literature encourages foilers to keep 150 meters clear of swimmers, surfers. That was not my experience. We came very close repeatedly but minimal chance for a conversation.
Anyone know if they are likely to be regulated out of the line-up?

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 11:08am

"That's bullshit, I looked and there WAS a drop of water out of place."

Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 12:00pm

Maybe the mustacioed of leashes can go surf with the silen winged head chopping foilers somewhere far far away

Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67 Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 3:13pm

Yes, please. Add SUPs too

simsurf's picture
simsurf's picture
simsurf Sunday, 13 Nov 2022 at 5:06am

Wait until you see the SUP foils. I'm not joking either. Saw them yesterday at my local

Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson's picture
Shaun Hanson Sunday, 13 Nov 2022 at 8:40am

I have seen em ...maybe WSL can start a wave pool SUP FOIL JOUSTING COMP ...play we will rock you threw loud speakers sell soms merch

kaybeegee's picture
kaybeegee's picture
kaybeegee Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 3:19pm

A nice metaphor for why wave pool comps suck

wpool's picture
wpool's picture
wpool Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 6:30pm

Yes I must admit as I read through this I thought it was going to be about wave pools ...although I am must admit I am currently still enjoying the odd surf at the pool

Baron von Spatula's picture
Baron von Spatula's picture
Baron von Spatula Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 4:34pm

… and, the humble surf mag makes a resurgence!
However, Advertising to Editorial ratios remain constant.

Tooold2bakook's picture
Tooold2bakook's picture
Tooold2bakook Friday, 11 Nov 2022 at 10:13pm

Loved it thanks

legrope1's picture
legrope1's picture
legrope1 Saturday, 12 Nov 2022 at 7:23am

The bad days make the good days seem even better

Seaweed's picture
Seaweed's picture
Seaweed Saturday, 12 Nov 2022 at 8:04am

Bins go out on Wednesday matey.

Denyer's picture
Denyer's picture
Denyer Sunday, 13 Nov 2022 at 11:01am

That was deep and dark, but true. A subconscious (or conscious) dig at wave pools?

Confused's picture
Confused's picture
Confused Sunday, 13 Nov 2022 at 12:43pm

Doesn't every locale have that caricature, for arguments sake we'll call my local bloke Jimmy,
the fella who has more time to surf,
But who surfs the least.
He checks the surf the most,
But paddles out the least
When he does paddle out he paddles for the most waves, but you guessed it.. .
Catches the least.
The guy that thinks he knows the most about the fins, the boards, the forecast, but he's always, changing the fins, taking the "wrong board", picking the wrong set wave, chasing the conditions over the horizon to surf "the best wave for any given day", and doomed to fall. (Scatterbrain)
Kinda misses the beauty of surfing:
Finding the diamond in the rough,
The gift in humility that keeps giving
Self satisfaction through self discipline.
When it all comes together through years, and decades of struggle, sacrifice and perseverance and you get that one day, one hour or one minute of pure satisfaction.

SI's picture
SI's picture
SI Sunday, 13 Nov 2022 at 10:44pm

This is Stan’s son Asher. I’d just like to say thanks for the article dedicated to my dad. I didn’t expect to see anything on the internet related to his passing, but this was a nice surprise. I don’t know if you ever talked to Stan about the surf but he always used to say that it was the shittiest surfs that make the good surfs good. I couldn’t agree with him more. And I can see a similar philosophy in the article.

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq Thursday, 17 Nov 2022 at 7:55pm

What a golden post, condolences to your father and family. as the buddhist say, out of muddy water a lotus blooms....

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch Monday, 14 Nov 2022 at 9:34am

G'day Asher. Mate you're so welcome. I only hung and surfed with your old boy back in the mid 80s pretty much, before bailing north, but even as a grom, Stan was prepared to think and surf his own way, and I'd reckon it gave him a deeper surfing experience than many. (Not to mention Anglesea Main Beach certainly gave us more than enough mediocre surf to supercharge our appreciation of anything that didn't close out!) Mate when I think back over my treasure trove of early surf memories, there's some very clear ones of Stan in there that will always make me smile. Condolences to you and the family Asher.

owgoodaquads's picture
owgoodaquads's picture
owgoodaquads Monday, 14 Nov 2022 at 9:58am

Great article Gra and commendations to Stu I guess for curating a thought provoking trilogy over the last week or so. From 'Losing My Religion' to 'Çan I get better at surfing' to this I find resonating on so many levels. I've started responding on a few occasions but between others words and not finding the right way to express my agreement, I've stopped. And there I think lies the beauty of it all. How do you adequately express your relationship with such an ever changing muse. Love it.

AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace Monday, 14 Nov 2022 at 2:07pm

Owgoodaquads. Succinct. Nicely said mate.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch Monday, 14 Nov 2022 at 2:15pm

Yeah words never quite feel like they completely capture the magic hey!

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq Thursday, 17 Nov 2022 at 8:30pm

I think the answer lies in time, not in time itself but in the concept of time, when we feel we are right we reflect in our opinion to the so called facts, but I think we lay ignorant to the non obvious truth of it all, that we dont actually know in what interval of the overall timeline of the universal life we are in.

In the existence of the universe are we at the start? the universe is now over 13 billion years old, so are we midway? are we near the end? are we at the start? if we are midway then is our knowledge midway?, if we are at the start then we probably know nothing, like a baby learning to walk, what does that say about our current behaviour?

if we are near the end then we must know it all now right? do we want to know it all? once we know it all, are we at the end? what more is there to know? would we be satisfied for knowing it all? once we know it all, what do we do then? where does the new knowledge come from? is it an original thought? who has it first, how are the words formed? do we throw the words up and watch them fall to the ground in random order?

lilas's picture
lilas's picture
lilas Monday, 14 Nov 2022 at 5:22pm

My version of perfection is sharing semi-decent waves with a bunch of kind and respectful people, where everyone is catching as many waves as they want, and the Aloha spirit runs high!

getbarrelled99's picture
getbarrelled99's picture
getbarrelled99 Wednesday, 23 Nov 2022 at 11:02am

ah yes miss frenchalicious... I agree