Johnny B's Mexico Thrashing by Johnny B - added June 30, 2006
For those that don't remember Ask Johnny B, so sorry :). But don't sweat it...we're going to re-publish some of the classics this summer! Here's one to start:
"The waves stripped me of my health..."
Who's Asking: Patrick Chidambaram
If one was in the ocean on a surfboard and wishes to come to shore but is faced with heavy current and big nasty, sand eating waves breaking right on the beach. What should you do to get out of this situation and out of the ocean?
Dear Patrick, Good Question! I was on a surf trip recently to Mexico and I had to deal with this same scenario. We had been surfriding the Pacific coast just south of Petacalco.We surfed this particular location that had good clean waves breaking in both directions. However, there was a strong current, and getting in and out of the surf would prove to be risky and difficult. There was a tremendous amount of water moving.
With some good timing, I made it out to the lineup without much trouble. Getting back to the shore would be a different story. The surf had built to a consistent 8-10 foot, and it was time for me to head for the beach. I was getting worked as the waves were literally and figuratively over my head. I knew if I got stuck in the river of water moving along the shore, I'd be pounded to the beach by a big wave. I had no choice but to catch a bomb and ride it towards the point and belly it in before I got to close to the beach pound. A wave that I thought I could handle came my way. I was on it, made the drop, but fell at the bottom and into the rinse cycle.
I'm now caught inside the damn impact zone taking a huge set of waves on my head. By now, I'm sure my friends are beside themselves with laughter. I spent a lot of time under water trying to stay calm under tremendous turbulence. It was green, dark and bubbly down there. I surfaced, with my mouth wide open for I was jonesing for air, to assess my predicament. I was caught in the current drifting off the point and south to the heavy beach break the locals call The Liquidator. This is not where I wanted to go. What I saw next made my stomach weak.
I saw this thick 8-foot wave coming at me, I scratched to get over it with all I had, then turned to watch it hit the beach. I almost shit my trunks. It hit so hard causing rocks and brown sand to blast up high into the air before being engulfed by the sea. It was the most violent thing I had ever seen and I was headed right for it. Here's the answer to your question: You try to paddle a little further outside the impact zone, so you can time your exit between sets. Things were really looking up for me now. I was powerless against the current by now and the sets just kept rolling in. There was a lull in the sets so I cried out and paddled for shore. The time was now or I'd end up in Hawaii with a sunburn.
When I got close enough, I started running up the bank, but the ocean was having a liquidation sale and I hadn't been liquidated yet. A wave, rebounding off the beach, pulled me back to the sea with a force beyond belief. It was like running from a monster in your dreams, only this was for real. I was afraid to look behind me. It was pulling me into the path of the next wave, the biggest, brownest, prick of a wave I'd ever seen. I thought to myself, this is what you train for, ha ha ha, and gripped my board and got pile-driven into the beach like a hypodermic needle on the Jersey shore. I had been liquidated.
I got so beat up, that an hour later, pebbles were still falling from my trunks. SO, Pat, this isn't about me getting worked, it's about survival and respect for the ocean. To get out of these situations, you sometimes don't really need to do anything because the ocean will do it for you. This wouldn't happen to me for the rest of the trip. Damn kook move, I tell ya. I hope that clears it up. Thank you for reading, Johnny B
John Bernard is a good friend, a ripper and an Alta, Utah living legend. On your next ski trip to Alta, ask a local on the chair lift if Johnny B is around. They'll say, "Yeah he's probably in the Church, or at Alta Java."