The Dropped Knee

When I realised that I was dropping my knee on the pop-up, I was mortified.

Anya charging
Anya charging

Becoming an occasional surfer, a weekend warrior (at best), I had lost fitness and skill. We were on a family surf break; Anya was getting lessons from a pro, I was trying to get some waves. I was trying out long-boarding for the first time, expecting it to be easy, but finding that some bad habits had formed. They were hard to undo. I was taking advantage of the forgiving nature of the bigger board with a sloppier technique, when what I really needed was to drop weight, build fitness and be more disciplined in practice. It was like being a beginner again, getting some rides, moving forwards, but nowhere close to my potential.

It would have been easy to carry on as it was. So many of us do.

Getting my stoke back.
Getting my stoke back.

I took Anya’s shorter board in tiny surf, knowing that I’d get no decent rides. There was no forgiveness in the rockier stick, no way to cover up for poor technique. I had to pop-up properly and stay up – then get immediately get off again and paddle back out. For an hour or more I looked like a kook, playing on a board that was too small for the conditions and falling over again and again. When I did make it, a local instructor gave me the thumbs-up, thinking I was a true beginner. Embarrassing.

The next day, I took the longboard back out the main reef. By going back to basics, being critical of my own technique and swallowing my pride I had made some important improvements. By the time tide dropped, my arms were tired, my neck was stiff, but I had my stoke back. Then it was time to go home.

I think now I’m a longboard convert, my shortboard days behind. Roll on the spring.

Daddy & Daughter
Daddy & Daughter


A different type of drop-knee, this one beautiful. 

These two clips, from the McTavish “Dedicated to the Craft” series are really lovely. The first, a profile of Byron Bay legend Ray Gleave, showing off real grace and a lovely drop-knee cutback, is a personal motivation. If life is like that in 21 years, I’ll be happy. The second showcases a young boy and his older sister: their relationship with each other and the ocean something I hope for in my own kids.


Finally, here’s our surf break video. Anya’s still rocking, and Happy Surfing Okinawa was brilliant.






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