Trauma, The Kneeboard and Buttercup the Cow


Skate mate, Mike Day and I made the trip up to Chuchdown near Gloucester a few weekends ago. We scratched some coping and came home in one piece…..unlike the guy top left.

Injury, hurt, wound, distress, detriment, harm, accidental injury, psychic trauma, impairment,suffering, trauma, damage, scathe, combat injury call it what you wish, it will come knocking sooner or latter. It’s so inconvenient.

I sustained ruined left knee ligaments courtesy of a non-descript Basque bowl in September 2010. By mid December I had managed to dislocate my left collar bone whilst launching my moutainbike into a snow drift on Codden Hill. Lastly but by no means least my left Achilles tendon snapped in March 2011.Six destructive months.

Many months of rehab, frustration, medical fees. no surfing, no skating and  no biking passed. Early June 2011 saw me re-enter the surf.I was still in a rehab boot at this stage so stand up surfing was out of the question but I had a plan.
The idea came to me travelling back from London on a train two or three weeks earlier.We had spent a lovely weekend in the Smoke but by Sunday evening I was tired and frustrated from limping around on my crutches and rehab boot from Tube station to gallery etc. it came to me in a flash, I should take to my knees. I had always had a sneaking regard for kneelos. The mixture of hippy kookiness (Is that a word?:Ed) and ballsy approach to steep waves had always impressed me though I cannot recall seeing many Kneelo’s in North Devon in the last ten years. The next week I stopped off at the Diplock factory on the way to visit my Mum’s. By pure fluke it turned out that I had found the right place. Bro Diplock is one of the UK’s better kneelo’s and their ‘go to’ shaper. I purchased one of his old shapes and took in as many tips as my head could hold. Something that Bro said about it not being easy as it appeared lingered in my mind.
Not too long afterwards I made my first attempt to get back in the water. Fortunately there was no one around to see.
By the mid June weekend however confidence was far exceeding capability. I parked up in the Baggy point car park and very gingerly got changed into my wetsuit. The amble across Croyde reef and then the beach took an eye watering 30 minutes to get to the waters edge. I paddled out and got to my knees a few times. Bro’s advice came flooding back. Catching waves on a modern kneeboard is pretty easy but to my suprise making stylish carves is not so. Just as my enthusiasm was starting to wane something out to sea caught my eye . A long dark shape ,semi submerged, bobbed up and down in the 2 to 3 foot of chop. I could not decide what to make of it.. basking shark, adult seal, log? The position in the water was not quite right for any of these objects. As it drew closer , surfers were ushered away by lifeguards in their various craft. Eventually all became clear, of course it was a surfing cow. Read up on the details here.

I made my way to shore.

Spectating surfing cows and kneeboarding …this is just the great stuff you can do whilst rehabbing. Life’ is too short not to be boarding. I resolved to get back to fitness without delay.

Buttercupped scoped the closeouts and freshening westerly and decided not to go for another session.

Postscript 1. The kneeboard lies unused in my garage. I will get her out again and give her some love. She needs steep waves.

Postscript 2. This post was interrupted by a quick session at Croyde this evening. An overhead silky swell that arrived unexpectedly and will probably be long gone tomorrow morning. A fleeting pleasure. I’ll take it.

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