Where to begin with this? I’ve been in love with surfing since day 1. I paddled out for the first time at the age of 13 in icy February water and even though I was very slow on the uptake I’ve been stoked to be in the water ever since. Surfing has taken me around the world, introduced me to some great friends, and helped me balance at times when it felt like everything else was out of control. It also happened to inspire the Earl’s Big Adventure series.
Thanks to a couple of nasty shoulder injuries, I pretty much had to stop surfing in 2007, and was sidelined until 2014. I didn’t talk about surfing much during those years, I wouldn’t watch surfing videos or read about it..it just made me sad. Two years ago I went and had my shoulder repaired and then worked hard at rehabbing it. I started with physical therapy and then moved on to Muay Thai, which provided all the workout I could ever ask for.
This summer I was confident enough in my shoulder to get back into the water. After a few surfs on my old equipment I realized it was holding me back. I went and chatted with Cape Cod shaper Shawn Vecchione and he agreed that I was on the wrong board. He worked with me to design a new board that would help me get my feet back under me. I was looking for a performance shape that would forgive my mistakes. Six weeks later, he had a beautiful 5’9 with my name on it and lined me up with a set of fins that he said would be perfect for my weight and build.
My first surf on it sealed the deal. Me and a couple of good friends paddled out at a peaky shoulder high Cape Cod beach break by ourselves at sunrise and the board felt RIGHT. Surfing felt the way it had felt 8 years before. The next day I flew to Hawaii to get married and had a few good sessions there as well. I was amped to get back into the dawn patrol routine and it was a lot of fun to have my family around to watch the process. My parents watched me flail around when I was a kid trying to learn how to paddle, and hadn’t seen me in the water since then. My wife Patti had never really seen me surf. It was so fun to be in the water and have them around for moral support.
Since coming back to surfing I’ve had a few great sessions, and a few maddeningly frustrating ones. I’ve had a couple of memorable waves and a few sessions with good friends that were too fun for words. I’ve found myself within petting distance of sea turtles and seals and been bounced off the bottom and rag dolled once or twice. I’m most grateful to my family and to Patti for their support and encouragement. I wanted to share this experience for others who may be dealing with the injury frustration and to say thank you to the folks who’ve helped me get back in the water. A shout out to Elevation Physical Therapy for getting me strong, to UFAI for getting me fit and focused, and to Vec Surfboards for getting my equipment dialed in. See you in the water.