A little more than two months ago I took one of the most significant challenges of my life. I went riding giant waves in Uluwatu.
I prepared for it for weeks.
Every day I did my morning routines where I combined physical and mental practices. I worked on my nutrition as well. I did a lot of meditation and mental strength exercises.
On the 28th of April 2018, I woke up knowing that I will do my first big wave experience that day. I have been watching the forecast for weeks. In fact, I have been waiting for this opportunity for years.
Each year in Bali the mother swell hits the south-west coast. It is quite spectacular. The waves are rolling from Uluwatu to Balian beach. My home beach break usually gets saturated because the bottoms are less regular and the swell orientation is also inconvenient, It is too west for it.
I have watched these waves through the years that I have been living here, and I have been thinking to ride them, but missing to doing it every time, finding excuses, or random reasons.
This time there were no excuses, only preparation.
So that day, I had to work. I had two clients in the morning but I prepared my board and my gear before to leave to work and I made sure that I will time it right. At 2 pm I drove down south after picking up my 8ft gun. The road was busy as hell, and the sun was intense. An hour and a half later I reached Uluwatu. The swell was huge and only four people in the water. I waited 1 hour watching and counting the sets, skipping some heartbeats from time to time.
There were two sets every 60min, one set for each 25-30min.
I decided to go for it, took my board and went down the cliff. The access was harder than what I thought, also seeing the waves breaking on the reef was quite intimidating. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to drive back without paddling there.
I timed my paddle to don’t face the next set, and I knew that to reach the peak it would be a whole mission. The current was so strong pushing north along the cost towards Padang Padang beach. I paddled nonstop until I reach the highest breaking point where the other 4 surfers were waiting for the set at the level of Temples. It took me about 30min, and I just managed to skip being hammered by the set.
The surfers looked like if they just came out of jail. Tattoos, bold, muscles, and life-saving vests. I tried to make conversation with one of them to have in return a nod and a growl as an answer to “how are you?”.
I was sitting there applying everything that I teach to my clients. Whether it was controlling self-talk, breathing, focus, visualization, mindfulness. I was just practicing them one after one.
I missed the first set because I was not well positioned. And I missed the second set because other surfers were on it. It took me 90 min to get my ride which was a one-way ticket out straight to the cave.
The sensations I got from this experience are indescribable. People would ask me what did I feel when you rode the wave and wouldn’t be able to answer that. What I remember is perhaps the 10 seconds before to take-off paddling towards the waves, then paddling the other direction, then taking-off with water in my face, looking down and seeing how deep down it is, then few moments later being entirely in the zone just riding as fast as I can, trying not to be caught by the white water, and to find myself almost at the shore. Looking up the cliff, people were watching and taking pictures, and I remember looking back and thinking If I should go back to catch another one, but quickly decided not to do it.
That was enough, I have done it finally.
It took me another hour to process the emotions in the parking lot, and then called my 9month pregnant wife to tell her what I just did. Of course, she didn’t know anything about my plans and my weeks of preparation.
This was one of the most intense things that I have experienced.
Two days later my baby boy was born.