Ano Mac pays homage to the female form.
Paddling out into the line up in this day and age it’s apparent surfing is no longer the male dominated sport it once was. As it enters its Olympic phase it has matured, perhaps dragged kicking and screaming to a point of inclusiveness. Sure, there are pockets of resistance full of bravado and machoism, especially where you find waves of more consequence, but even there the feminine guile is becoming more and more common and out in the general breaks the mix can be comparative.
Women bring a more flowing form to a sport that has been dominated by the men’s functional attitude. Men tend to throw a lot of turns up against each other, their frantic dance is a brute force attack with little or no thought to arm, leg or even body positions as long as the desired turn or position is achieved. With women we see turns that flow from one to the next with body movements that speak subtlety, calculated, choreographed. They are Adagio to the men’s Allegro….
Her arms sliced proficiently through the water, four, perhaps five times before she brought them together and flattened them on the board, in front and either side under her chin. Her palms were flat on the hard deck with her fingers spread pointing forward and out to the water as it sped past. She was oblivious to it all though, her head was tilted up and over to the right and her eyes were seeking out a certain point out and down from where she was.
It was where she wanted to be.
From where she was, there was no discernible sound, her mind had blocked out everything unnecessary. Her body shuddered with a small wave of energy that started with her hands and fed up to her shoulders before being passed back through her body and legs right out to her feet and on to her toes, which were now all pushing hard into the inflexible polyester skin that covered the board. Her body became perfectly still, for the merest moment, while everything else just went on rushing by, then as the board fell forward and onto the wave, her entire body arched up. Her arms thrust out and down and straightened, the force propelling her head and shoulders upwards, her legs spasmed outward before retracting under her, they blurred and without a thought on her part, she was on her feet. It was all done in one flawless fluid movement.
Her arms slowly rose in a pre-set pattern almost like a plane retracting its gear after take-off; her palms pointed more or less fore and aft, fingers upward but together, a signature move? Her knees were bent and varied between nearly and touching, contrastingly her feet were apart. She waited and watched the spot, biding time while gravity sped her down the face of the wave. At the precise moment, learned from much trial and error, she pushed away with her legs, her weight shifted back over her rear foot and hard across all her toes, coming out of her full crouch as she did. Her arms went high and her back bowed as the board rolled up onto its inside rail, her head turning slowly as she kept it focused on a spot ahead. The board came about and as it assumed the right trajectory she met it with a shift in weight. Everything rolled onto the heel of her front foot, first her hips and then her whole body rocked forward, the motion finished with her once again standing tall upon her board.
Her back arched out as her arms moved up over her shoulders, the hands bent slightly at the wrist.
This part of her dance had slowed the turn and her overall speed setting her on her way. As if relaxing, she let the weight ebb back to where it had been, centred. The fact that all her manoeuvres and feints were done for the sole purpose of balance and turn made her fluidity of moving, her ballet, only that much more miraculous.
With both her head and board now turned in the direction of safe passage, she lifted her rear foot, gently, slowly, purposefully. Her legs straightened, her arms rotated down and out to the side, in a prancing cat, cross-stepping fashion, reminiscent of ballerinas training in front of mirrors; she placed her back foot down in front of the other. In total, she took three graceful steps to reach the nose. The board travelled onwards with its course, oblivious to her very managed movements. As she arrived at the nose her feet came together with one either side of the stringer, she had her back arched and her arms were moving ever so slightly but incredibly precisely, which managed the ensemble and kept everything on an even keel.
She stood there with her toes over the board’s nose, sticking out into space above the void in front of her, a modern-day Birth of Venus…