Day 11 – Day off … Surf's UP!

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In association with Performance FreeDiving International

We’ve settled ourselves into a three days working, one day off schedule to avoid overexertion and decompression sickness issues. We’ve started to employ an in-water decompression procedure after each attempt which involves going to 6m / 20′ for approximately five minutes and breathing 100% oxygen. However, today is Mandy’s first day off since arriving, so we’re heading to the beach for some surf’n.

Well, not exactly the beach. ‘Black Pearl Skate & Surf’ in the South Sound area of Cayman is a sport complex and home to the world’s largest outdoor skateboard park and biggest Waveloch surf wave. The Waveloch Surf Machine is a self-contained standing wave generated by a continuous 16,000 GPM flow of water. The flow can be adjusted anywhere from 10,000 gallons per minute to 150,000 gallons per minute of fresh filtered water. The machine measures 2,624 sq. ft. and provides 1,280 sq. ft. of riding surface. Cayman Grand Harbour has the only one of its kind in the world, with 11 foot waves, one foot higher than Waveloch’s machine in South Africa.

After some quick instruction, tips and a safety briefing on ‘how to bail, or what to do when you get tossed’, we eagerly jump in. It’s a thrill. With a boogie board or a small surf board you can ride the wave in one-spot until the operator deems you’ve had enough. Then he can vary the pump speed choosing from four different levels and suddenly you’re washed down the drain into the catch pool.

Level one is pretty easy, level four creates an 3.5m / 11ft standing wave with water moving at around 40mph. Mandy catches on the quickest and soon puts the boys to shame. Martin washes out the back a couple times. Doc decides he’s going to try a mini-board and ‘really surf this wave’. Peter and Goh are getting into the action too. Actually, getting tossed lands you pretty soft onto a running stream of 10cm / 4.5in. of rushing water and approximately 7.5cm / 3in. of rubberized ocean blue foam ‘seafloor’. An hour later we’re all somewhat proficient and Martin’s managed to ride the ‘tube’ a couple of times.

After about an hour of surfing we’re pretty pooped and remind ourselves to save some arm strength for tomorrow’s training. We banter about variable becoming finning with left arm pulls only, because in this constantly left-draining wave the right arm does most of the work. So we call it a day and go for a quick lunch. It’s time to run some errands, like picking up the laundry, and retrieving the sled bucket from the plastic surgeon.

Over the past two days we’ve noticed a small crack in the sides of the sled bucket, most likely brought on during its ascent. It’s a natural scoop and the lift bags bring it up at around 1.5m/s or 5ft/s. We’ve taken it to Red Sail sports maintenance where Doug, a good friend and ex-roommate, works. Instead of directing us to a welder he’s kindly offered to help us out himself, if we can leave it for the morning.

Eighteen thank-you cans of Heineken later the Yellow Beast is exhibiting some working scars which only add to its character. We just have to give this sled a name. Doc says we need to give it a woman’s name. Maybe it’ll become Martin’s on island mistress and Juliana will get jealous! (Just kidding!!). I’m sure that we’ll find a name, but for now ‘she’ remains the Yellow Beast. If she’s kind to us tomorrow maybe we’ll think of something more suitable.

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