Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Death of a Surfer

Bob Pollard passed away during the tranquil hours of pre-dawn on July 7, 2006. The winds were northwest at 6 knots. The tide was dead low. The local buoy was 1.1 foot at 7 seconds, flat conditions for even the most eternal of wave optimists.

Bob always carried a weather radio with him, even to the bathroom. He’d sit his bony ass on the throne and listen to the marine forecast, maybe with a dip in his mouth, maybe with a surf magazine spread across his hairy thighs. After he was finished analyzing and calculating the data delivered unto him by the automated voice of NOAA, he would then reach for the cordless phone to call every surfer he knew, and Robert Hugh Pollard was friends with damn near everyone.

His stoke was divine. In the water, Bob hooted at the local rippers. He hooted for the beginner skipping down the face drop-knee. As a surf shop owner, Bob gave away free gear, new and used. His layaway policy would extend months, sometimes years, whatever suited the customer. He never hassled the groms for camping in front of the shop television all day, replaying Campaign 2 until his DVD player exploded. He teased customers who walked into his shop wearing outfits by Hollister and Pac Sun. He didn’t make much money. He believed that shop owners should be spiritual leaders, not businessmen. He wore dreadlocks and Mohawks. He wore beads in his hair and a Jesus beard.

Like many surfers, Bob kept obsessive tallies on atmospheric and oceanic conditions. He kept track of every surf session, jotting the particulars down in his calendar. He believed that full and new moons generated swell despite the fact that science insists otherwise. Bob loved predicting swells. His friends often scoffed at his forecasts, but he was right more times than they ever gave him credit for. He was the first to identify and track those late spring swells that originate in the south Atlantic and travel the thousands of miles to the obstructed shores of Massachusetts Bay. He coined the term “Brazil swell.” His friends laughed at him then, but he was right. He was right about a lot of things, like taking time off from work to surf, or eating lots of fruits and vegetables, or being too angry at the world, or for having surfed Beadle Rock when Standish was the better option. His friends often shrugged him off, but they are listening now. He has their attention now.

Since his passing, Bob has taught his friends that life is often imperfect and illogical, but that surfing transcends such arbitrary terms by forcing us to live in a series of moments wherein Time and Reason are tangential. Surfers have the privilege of disappearing into these voids while the world devours and mocks itself. Unfortunately, non-surfers aren’t so lucky. They are often beached by the mundane realities of 9-5 careers and the demands of consumerism. In life, Bob Pollard denied those realities by riding waves. In death, he has paddled into the everlasting moment, the ultimate void. Bob Pollard has achieved perfection. The buoy report is 6 to 8 feet at 14 seconds forever. The winds are constantly light and offshore, and the tide always works in his favor. I love you Bob. Save some waves for me, and for Christ sake don’t call everyone to tell them how good it is. Let them find out for themselves.

Just in case


  1. Eugenio's a born blogger--
    & DEATH OF A SURFER would be a powerful
    title piece for a collection of these charged-up
    essays or whatever they are--
    I expect a wild ride from this blog--

  2. great. just read this on my 9-5 job. now i am thoroughly convinced that i truly am having an identity crisis. love you and well said as usual.