Flashing back to Youth
By Corky Carroll
I just watched videos of a 12-year-old kid getting towed into massive waves at “Jaws” on Maui during a monster swell that hit there a couple of weeks ago. Blew me away. Flashed me back to when I was 12 and first started to ride, at least what we thought were, bigger waves here in California.
Our house was right on the beach in Surfside Colony, just south of Seal Beach. It was a great place to grow up because I could surf all I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was right there. And I loved it so much that I would go out in just about any and every condition. Big, little, windy, glassy, stormy, high tide taking out houses, good shape, bad shape or no shape. It didn’t matter, I was on it all the time.
At the far north end of our beach was the south jetty for the Navy base at Seal Beach. On huge winter swells big peaks would form and break out near the end of the jetty. The big stuff. When I was little I would occasionally see guys out there riding it. But it was super dangerous as there was no beach and the shore break would pound into huge jetty rocks along the beach. If you lost your board it was toast. It was finding a half of a broken board on those rocks that provided me with the wood to make the first board that I shaped, they were balsawood back then.
When I was about 11 or 12 I started paddling out there when it was big. At first being really chicken and only taking off on the shoulders, but gradually getting more confident. To me, this was riding big surf, the “heavies.” I can remember Steve Rowe dramatically declaring, “It’s freaking 10 foot out here.” Wow, that was really big. But, in all fairness, wave size was completely mis-judged in those days. It was a mark of being brave to call a wave that was six times the height of a six-foot person six feet. Like 6x6=6. Didn’t make any sense at all. I know my first wave at Waimea Bay was at least 100 feet even though George Downing called it, “a solid 20 ft.” In the light of that I wanna say the Surfside Jetty waves were more like 3 times overhead, so what’s that? 15 to 18 feet. Gigantic for a 12 yr. old little skinny me.
Roll forward to a couple of days ago. As is my normal morning routine, I lit the fire to power up my old coal powered computer and checked my mail and Facebook pages. Low and behold here is this video of 12-year-old Steve “baby Steve” Robertson getting towed into monster waves, sooooo much bigger than what we had at the Surfside Jetty. After getting blown out the top of a few biggies he was coached on by big wave charger Makua Rothman and wound up getting himself some really great rides on waves that most humans would not even think of attempting.
The video and story are posted on SURFLINE. The link is https://www.surfline.com/surf-news/watch-12-year-old-baby-steve-roberson-towing-xxl-jaws/111012.
I would suggest you check this out. Pretty amazing stuff. And, just a side note: this is very very dangerous for anybody, but a person that size is at a much greater risk. Don’t send your young kids off to Hawaii to be trying this, keep ‘em home safe watching Sponge Bob or something.