It started out as my best wave ride of the day. It ended with my nearly taking Peconic Jeff's head off. It all began when Peter and I caught a nice head-high wave on the outer sand bar. Jeff was about halfway in toward the beach shooting video and taking photos, so my only Jeff thought was "surf well and maybe you'll get a picture!"
Usually I find myself too far to the bottom of the wave, and when I managed to bottom turn a bit and get back up the wave for a cutback, I was giddy. With my eyes riveted on the ten feet of water immediately in front of me, I carved back down the wave.
With my eyes riveted on the ten feet of water immediately in front of me, I am unaware that I am now bearing down on Jeff, who is capturing it all. He sees my face pointing towards him and assumes that my eyes are along for the ride.
A moment later I see him as he swings the camera down (for I don't know what reason, because he's not yelling at me to be careful.) I'm going to plow right into his head. I shouted Jeff's name (leaving off "Peconic" for brevity) and jumped off the board, hoping both to turn it to the left (to miss his head) and lighten it (in case, as I was sure it would, the board hit him.)
The board crashed across the tail of Jeff's board, immediately to the wave side of his head. Then the wave, which still had plenty of gusto, rolled both boards into Jeff, and then the three of them into me.
There was a good deal of floundering on my part before I got back to the surface. Incredibly no blood was gushing from Jeff's head. At first glance neither board was damaged (which seemed impossible,) so shaken and with concern for our gear (and me apologizing a mile per minute) we returned to the beach.
Incredibly, the boards had some minor scratches but no damage. I was nauseous for about an hour...I KNEW I was about to seriously injure a friend, and the endless moment kept replaying in my head. Jeff's been very gracious about this. Me, I feel I was lucky. I haven't been on the water since, but I believe that when I return I'm going to be paying an enormous amount of new attention to people in the water all around me, as I do windsurfing. A newbie level of awareness doesn't cut it. Hell, a newbie level of awareness should still be better than mine last Sunday. Writing this post has brought the feeling of nausea back.
Here's the video Jeff shot. It all happens pretty fast so I slowed it down. Keep watching and it plays again in real time, complete with my shout.