I remember the first time like it was yesterday it´s deeply etched into my brain, a memory that has guided my life, the first of many real life changing experiences.
November 1973, Durban, South Africa I had just turned 9 years old and had been given the single most important birthday present of all time, a 7ft second hand single fin “Holmes” surfboard. It was a pristine spring day on the Zululand coast, hot, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. We drove the 50km up the east coast from Durban to Ballito Bay where my Mom , 2 year old brother Troy and step father Bruce used to go on Sunday trips to hang out on the beach and have a picnic while Bruce would have a surf with his friends.
I grabbed my board and ran down the path to the beach my skinny arms barely hanging onto my new treasure, I heard my mom shouting to be careful and to wait for them as she unloaded all the goodies for the picnic and struggled to get Troy. My mom’s words were just a background noise as I saw the Indian Ocean sparkling green and blue before me as I broke through the bushes out onto the beach. Without a second thought I stripped off my shirt and ran headlong into the shore break, my surfboard under me and a very small 1- 2ft swell running. It took me about 30 seconds to reach the backline, as my Mom, Bruce and Troy came onto the beach I turned and caught my very first wave. Thinking back it’s quite astounding that I actually managed to stand up and ride that foamy wave all the way up the sand.
The moment when I looked up not quiet realizing what had actually just happened to see the beaming smiles and look of amazement on the faces of my Mom and Bruce will live with me forever. A bolt of lightning did not strike me down, I did not know that this was the most significantly defining moment in my young life right then, I just picked up my board turned around and ran straight back into the sea.