WELCOME TO THE BEATING HEART OF YOUR ADDICTION
WE ARE THE SPIT
THE TRADE WINDS
THE HOWLING GALE
WE ARE BACKWASH
Winter storms span across our globe, mostly from west to east, and (hopefully) create waves wherever they breach from land to sea. At least that’s my understanding of it being on the northeastern seaboard of the United States.
But as storm systems pummel us with winds and snow, sleet and cold, I often wonder who is on the receiving end of this as she makes her way onward into the Atlantic. How will this storm fit into the nooks and crannies that European surfers have dialed in? Will it offer them the chance of a once-in-a-decade kind of swell? What is it like to have this swell travel to you rather than travel over you?
Will there be pointbreaks that light up for football field lengths? Will shallow, table rock reefs take this energy and square it off into a green cavern that can provide a brief dose of shelter from the world?
I find myself often times after a storm has embarked on its journey across the pond (did I get that right?) staring at an oversized, antique world map hanging in my Brooklyn apartment. Standing on the couch for ultimate understanding, I imagine all the bends in coasts from Portugal, north to Ireland and England, and all the way up to Iceland forging the swell from its violent journey into malleable perfection we call waves.
But who is receiving that fury and gift all wrapped into one from King Neptune? Surfers I have never met, but feel a kinship to because we ultimately surf the same waves just in very distant locations. Are they fishermen, bankers, farmers, or office workers? Will they drop everything else going in their lives when this swell reaches them, calling out of work sick, risking future employment, and possibly frustrating loved ones?
Ultimately, we put our wetsuits on the same. We are surfing in the same body of water. Me being situated in the northeast, we are ultimately surfing the same degree of water temperature (even if we over here refer to that hypothermic generator with a ridiculous conversion of multiplying a fraction and adding a random “32”). We are not so different though. We understand the Atlantic’s moods and proneness to flat spells, though undoubtedly your side of things can do a bit of its own swell generating that our side just flat out can’t.
The lines I see coming from the horizon to detonate on my shores with the hollowness only a fine-grained sandy beach break can provide are the same lines that will eventually reach your shores and offer you an opportunity.
I reflect on this as I watch the remnants of a cold front swim off our sand and into the Atlantic, to do what it will along the way in its travels, hopefully bringing joy to someone on the other end.
Ryan is currently the Nights & Weekends Writer for GrindTV where you can check out more of his work.
Backwash Issue Two is a surf anthology featuring Japan, the photography of Chris Burkard and Sergio Villalba, Hamish Laing and Woody Gooch. Kalani Lattanzi swims at Nazare, whilst Amy Kotch surfs barrels whilst pregnant and John Peck knee paddles out as he has done since 1958.Purchase