risk vs re­ward

New Zealand Surfing - - The Connectors -

We hit the icy roads of win­ter bound for NZ's pound for pound heav­i­est wave, a wave con­sid­ered too risky by many and a wave that has ended its fair share of love af­fairs with those that have dared tame her. Surfers are tra­di­tion­ally seen as ex­treme risk tak­ers and will go be­yond the nor­mal means of hu­man ac­cep­tance to sim­ply bask in the glory of rid­ing the ul­ti­mate wave. With great risk comes great re­ward, but what if that risk far out­weighs any re­ward you could pos­si­bly ever re­ceive from rid­ing a wave? What if that risk meant never surf­ing again? Surf­ing in­juries can be part and par­cel of the sport and hap­pen day in day out at breaks through­out the coun­try, yet con­sid­er­ing this wave turn­ing on is such a rare oc­cur­rence and is also only rid­den by a hand­ful of ex­perts with skills to match the tech­ni­cal chal­lenge of its ride, surely there is no other wave on our shores that have handed out such beat­ings and hum­bled many to the point that they re­sign from ever surf­ing here again! Ex­treme you may say! But when those in­ci­dents con­sist of bro­ken necks, backs, an­kles, and cuts and bruises so deep that they could have long last­ing life af­fects, then it would make you think twice. What if you were faced with be­ing knocked out, only to be found float­ing face down in the im­pact zone by an­other surfer who just hap­pened to be pad­dling back out? These are some of the clouds that hang over the heads of those that ded­i­cate them­selves to a spot in this lineup. With the most ex­treme of risks out of the way, surf­ing here also comes with other as­so­ci­ated risks al­though of the lesser im­pact kind. With a mid-win­ters weather bomb spi­ralling its way off our East Coast, the hype me­ter was in over­load with surfers all over the coun­try froth­ing on this po­ten­tial week-long run of swell. While many swells can be hyped and lead to sweet bug­ger all, this one was look­ing a dead set cer­tainty there­fore the en­tire East Coast from the Far North down to Otago would be smok­ing at var­i­ous stages up and down the coast as the wind swung. What this in­tro­duced was an­other risk of ded­i­cat­ing to the chase of scor­ing this one par­tic­u­lar wave, a wave that is no­to­ri­ously fickle and a wave which has not only a nar­row swell win­dow but also needs the com­bi­na­tions of wind and tide to har­mo­nize to de­liver the plat­form to ride. There­fore, those that ex­pressed in­ter­est in chas­ing the swell to have at least a chance to score this wave would be risk­ing blow­ing cer­tain ses­sions else­where, and risk­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that they could take days off work, spend hun­dreds of dol­lars on travel and yet if those el­e­ments didn't com­bine, it would re­sult in a fruit­less few days and rid­ing noth­ing at all! Yet they all knew and all un­der­stood, for that ul­ti­mate re­ward their lies an ul­ti­mate risk, and not plenty, but just one wave at this spot can make all of that risk van­ish in a haze as they are blown out of a deep bar­rel into the chan­nel.

LEFT: Prior to this wave Sam 'Sanga' Wil­lis got beat up pretty bad on the reef, but he couldn't bring him­self to go in and with the wa­ter be­ing so cold he couldn't feel the da­m­age any­way, so he pad­dled back out, scored this drainer and went in.

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