World-wide surfer reminisces on the waves of Hurricane Dolly

Special to the PARADE

A few years back, during hurricane Dolly, I had one of the best surf sessions on South Padre Island that I’ve ever experienced.

Comparatively I have had the opportunity to surf in many parts of the world, Hawaii, Mauritius, Reunion Island, and Montreal, to name a few. That said, SPI has surf. People are skeptical and they don’t think Padre has waves, but it does. When those waves arrive, it is quite fun, challenging, and gnarly.

One day during hurricane Dolly, they closed the Isla Blanca Park gate so there was no car access. This was due to high surf conditions (red flag). You could only enter by foot, bike, or board. I parked at Chapel by the Sea where several other surfers were gearing up and getting ready.

I rode into the park on my fixed gear bike with my surfing gear, backpack, and a jug of water. I was on the way into the jetties when I spotted a dog having a fun run across the road. Riding on a fixed gear with all that stuff is pretty tricky, and so to avoid wrecking into the pooch, I did a launch into the air and wiped out. After glaring at the dog and looking at my bloody knees, I hopped back on the bike and kept on riding because I knew that there would be some epic surf that morning. I arrived at the jetties, leaned my bike against the fence, and decided which surfboard to use. My choice was a 6’5” quad 7S that was ready to charge the epic surf.

When one paddles out with this type of surf, it is typical for the lineup to be quite crowded, but because the gate was closed, no one had arrived yet, or so I thought. I paddled out into the first wave. It was maybe three feet. The second was a little bigger; maybe four feet, but the third and fourth waves were six feet. They were clean because it was early in the morning and the winds hadn’t started yet.

I was feeling the wave energy pass through me, and it’s one of those things that’s hard to explain. It cleanses one’s soul, body, and mind. It brings focus to the task at hand, which is to catch that one dreamy wave or three.

As I paddled out, I saw my buddy, “Joe rat” Garza shredding across a 4-5-foot face. I said, “Hey Joe! Great wave!” He smiled back. I knew that look: near bliss, when you are in the zone. I captured that moment in my mind as I kept paddling.

I passed through the energy of another set and I saw another surfer. I recognized their figure and form. It was Gene Bagley, an old timer and also former owner of one of the long time standing surf shops here on South Padre Island. Bagley is an ambassador for surfing here and has a nice clean style of surfing.

I found the peak spot, where surfers want to be. It is where that peak energy and the biggest part of the waves flows through time and space.

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