Put this adventure on the list of 'Oops' moments

By Corky Carroll

Editor's note:

This week, we're introducing a new column by legendary surfer Corky Carroll. He'll be writing occasional columns on surfing and beach culture in our region.

Carroll is a five-time U.S. and three-time international surfing champion. He's currently offering surf adventure trips to surf with him at his home near Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Recently in another paper, I wrote about things that have made me go "oops" — you know those kinds of moments when it dawns on you that "OOPS, I think I just really screwed up."

It can come in different ways. Like maybe if you said something to somebody and right after it left your lips you wish you could suck it back in. But you can't. And then there is that moment that is sort of frozen in time where you KNOW that it's gonna come back and bite you.

Kinda like when you are doing something and not paying much attention and your wife comes out with one of those "do you think I look fat?" questions. Without thinking you let out a courtesy "Yes dear." Then there is that moment of silence. And then the realization of what you just did hits you. "OOPS." Dark fear fills the room and you know that any second the whip is gonna come down hard, very hard.

After that I got a great e-mail from Rick "The Chief" Reigel telling of an "oops" story of his own that was pretty classic. I figured I would share it with you. Here it is:

"It was a late winter day in 1983, an El Nino year, with lots of red crabs washed up on the beaches. I was living in La Jolla near WindanSea Beach. WindanSea was closed out point to point. From the Shores to beyond Black's was impossible to get past the 10-foot reform on the inside.

A couple thousand people were all focused on La Jolla Cove. The waves were huge, 20-foot constant ground swell with sets double that. The problem was how to paddle out.

Some guys were braving the jump off the 40-foot bluff near the famous cave, but timing the sets and the cops was not easy. The cops were on bullhorns announcing warnings and would ticket you if they got to you before jumping off the cliff.

After studying for an hour, a bunch of us got in a pickup truck and drove down to the Shores. We ran out to the end of Scripps Pier with our 9-foot, single-fin guns under arm and jumped in.

As we paddled for 45 minutes to get over to the lineup, we couldn't help but wonder what lay in (store). Every other pier from Mexico to Santa Barbara sustained damage or was eliminated during that swell. It was pure adrenaline.

We had plenty of time to study the lineup and pecking order, and the drops were pretty consistent on a big boil.

Finally, my turn came, and I paddled for a nice wave and dropped in but had to pull out after the drop as the wave didn't hold up. At least I got one big drop under my belt! The goal was to ride one for a minute or so all the way back to the Shores.

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