Stephen Hall, Stephen Vallance, Gary Skow, Ross Vincent, Jeffrey Sheard, Tony Blundell, John Kent, Stephen Blakey
It was one of those white rash shirts with the built in hat. Brand new. He looked all the part of an alpine paratrooper on a reconnaissance mission in the Artic Circle. His yellow boardshorts tore through the glare like a sand storm scraping the terygiums from the eyeballs of his fellow surf comrades. He saluted. A steel forefinger leaving an imprint in the middle of his forehead. The seven surfers had lined the gunnels of the Barrenjoey and they returned his salute, yelling out an almost incomprehensible 'Hai!' in unision. His name; Colonel Wasabi. His mission; to overcome the demons running riot from his brain to his heart, to confront the giant waves crashing on the coral reef, to stand tall and lick the roof inside one of the enormous caverns being formed by said waves, to lead this band of mid life panic merchants in a battle against the fearsome foe of 'lost youth'.
He jumped overboard and began the short lonely paddle towards the empty lineup. The surfers watched their leader, in absolute awe of his bravado. They would follow him anywhere and so began readying themselves for the smashings to come.
Skowy removed his front tooth. The mark of the man from a battle fought years before. He and his good mate, Roscoe, had been lured aboard by memories of adventure with the Captain's alter ego, Bucket from 19 years previous in a sleepy fishing village on the coast of Portugal. A time when games of 'Get-Off-Me', Dumb Heads, and jumping off 50 ft cliffs left no margin for the faint of heart. Stevo, his mate, Stevo, and their mate, the Sheep Shearer began gingerly waxing their boards. They were members of an elite group known as 'The Blind Force' from a similar era of youthful undertakings. PK had already shed his city windings claiming absolute relaxation as his highlight of the voyage so far. But the twitching had returned as he readjusted the velcro on his leg-rope strap. Tony's torn calf muscle began to uncontrollably throb as he rubbed all the ointments available on the boat. No-one would know what pain he was in till after the battle.
They paddled as a team just as the first wave picked the Colonel up and threw him awkwardly as he stylishly attempted to drop into its bowels. It was not a good start. The grey beards bristled upon crusty chins till Stevo screamed like a Banshee and entered the zone in a frenzied paddle.
The view from the Lizard Lounge was spectacular. Waves were caught and surfed with abandon. Wipeouts were witnessed and zapped their energy. Barrels spat the odd warrior into pure bliss. Fear fornicated with their souls. But they emerged, oh yes they emerged·.smiling, somewhat battered yet miraculously unscathed.
As the sun set and the Bintang cans clinked in prelude to a well earned thirst quenching guzzle, a photo was snapped freezing an aura of pure exuberance, of a ceaseless battle against the elements, of grins a mile bloody wide. There could only be one word to describe the scene·..deserving.
Postscript: after the epic, the Barrenjoey and all aboard tapered off on some fun waves. There was not a worry in the world till Elvis, the stalwart cook and creator of countless meals that have sustained the BJ's clientele since day one, fell to the floor clutching his side. A suspected appendicitis was confirmed by Dr Dave Jenkins who was in the area. The trip was cut short and the boat steamed back to Padang where Elvis was rushed to hospital and operated upon immediately. He now has a personal piece of bait he plans to catch a very special fish with upon his return to work.