The Sustain

18 . 02 . 17

Peering through the half-light of dawn, filtered through the mist and spray hanging in the air, you see a speck fall in to a wave and suddenly betray the true size of the swell. With this perspective the wave now seems to be moving in slow motion, as though pushing through treacle, and the surfer drops, reaches the bottom, and sits back into a do-or-die backhand bottom turn. He holds his body position, frozen as everything else moves around him and whitewater explodes just feet away from the tail of his surfboard. This is the sustain; a somewhat counter-intuitive but totally critical element of manoeuvres on larger waves. Without holding both nerve and body positioning, it’s all too common to see surfers revert to twitchy small wave busy-ness and, in the case of bottom turns on bigger waves, unweight their inside rail in a doomed attempt to “hop to the top”. But the surfer that sits back and waits, quite literally in this situation, carries speed back up the wave face and arrives at the lip ready and prepared to make their next move. Before dropping down and doing it all over again.

Photo: Chris, mid-sustain riding The Riser at an undisclosed mid-winter spot.

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