No Prizes For Guessing Why G-Land On Acid Is A Really Bad Idea
I spent nearly seven years of my life sending other people on surf trips. This was in the early 1990s, when the whole surf thing was coming out of a brief recessionary period and preparing to flare up in ways it may never do again. I was working at a US based magazine that no longer exists, but at the time was definitely the Bomb. Being the Bomb meant we were constantly trying to get all the best young surfers of the Kelly Wave on trips with our staff photographers, and more and more often this meant trips with Martin Daly to his still nameless mad paradise off western Sumatra. If not there it was the also still nameless Teahupoo, or the Canary Islands, J-Bay, and pretty much everywhere else I wanted to surf.
Oh yes this was fun. You’d get the photos back and show the whole world! Then get up at the Crack and surf three-foot Lower Trestles with 60 of your best mates. Only much later did I realise it’d nearly driven me mad.
So at last when I managed to sneak out the back door of the mag offices and escape, I swore I would go on some crazy surf missions as a personal priority.
Again it involved an excuse, again another contest, this time the 1997 Quiksilver Pro at Grajagan, possibly the single greatest professional surfing event of all time, ever.
I only had good memories of G-Land so thought yeah, here we go.
The two days before the contest started were two of the best days of surfing of my life. The first day, almost nobody was there and Moneytrees was completely smoking in the six to eight foot range. The second day, every professional surfer in the world arrived and the entire lineup was smoking in the six to eight foot range. Kong’s to Speedies, I kid you not.
Grajagan did to me what the best Indo experiences always do to you: it confirmed for me that learning to surf was the finest thing I could possibly have done for myself. I should kinda qualify this by saying “apart from my children”, but it just wouldn’t be true. You love your kids, if you have ‘em, but they’re not you. Surfing a place like G-Land causes you to become more you, if that makes sense. It shits on magazine editing, I can tell ya that for free.
So yep on with the contest. Lil bro had a heat with Kelly. I caddied for lil bro and Dorian caddied for Kelly. Lil bro almost won the heat.
The next morning, the surf was a bit weird and they pulled the pin for the day. Way more surf coming, etc.
At some point in the morning I came across a well known professional surfer. Three of them in fact. We began to talk shit and hang out, and it turned out that one of these fine men had brought a panel of acid into camp.
The last time I’d taken acid had been right there in the camp nine years before. How appropriate that some should suddenly now rear its head!
The panel was carefully sliced into four more or less equal bits and one of them found its way into my possession.
Should I be talking about illicit drugs like this? Am I setting a bad example? It’s a bit late for that now really isn’t it. I did think about it for a while, until about lunchtime the next day, when a new swell began to pop down the Kong’s reef and the four of us threw up our hands and gulped ‘em down.
I was like, right, go surfing, so jogged up to Kong’s, paddled out, and realised it was already much bigger than anyone thought. I snapped a leggie and broke out a fin on the reef. Thinking nothing of it, I headed back down to Bobby’s camp, passing half the tour on the way, and dug out another board.
Now I turned and ran back out along the track. I was consumed by an extraordinary burst of energy. I ran faster, dodging around tree trunks and taking quick glances at the lineup, where by now it was a solid six foot plus and pouring down into Moneys like a flood.
I did the snivel paddle out through the hole behind Moneys, paddled out into the open behind the break. The sky was darkening under thunderclouds. Incredible waves were thundering down toward me from further up the reef. I was filled with bloodlust, my mind surging from the acid and from the astonishing sense of freedom conferred upon me by the moment. Was there anything better? Several pros were sitting just a short distance away. Something about the way they were sitting — so neatly on their boards, as if at desks, with expressions so dour and uncertain — struck me as completely absurd.
I began laughing madly. They looked at me almost in fear. “Fuck!” I screamed. “You’re all so fucking SERIOUS!”
Fortunately a set came, and the moment passed, and I never took acid again.