Water Sports

Overhead Firing!

A rare glimpse of a wild and wonderful sport.

Story & Photos By Wes Matweyew

Waves in the TCI are as rare as the West Indian Whistling Duck, so when the unusual sound of waves crashing on the beach filled my waking mind, I sat up, wondering, “Is that thunder outside?”

Paddlesurfing in Turks & Caicos

It is still dark outside as I head down the hall at Club Med and strain my eyes to see what the conditions look like ocean front. Reaching into my pocket, I text Philip Shearer at Big Blue and give him a surf report: Overhead-firing-ready 4 beatings? I sprint back to my room to grab my 8’5″ Cabrinha standup paddle surfboard and I’m just at the door before Philip’s reply comes in: C U in 15 . . .
We can barely see as we paddle the mile and a half out to the break, with the sun rising at our backs slowly illuminating the line-up. The bigger set is closing out the channel and we both know we are going to have our hands full.
Slowly inching our way deeper toward the peak, looking into the barrel of the waves as they spit and taunt us, the clarity of the water makes the already shallow reef seem even shallower. Parrotfish go about their normal routine as I watch them from my high vantage point. Philip is a bit more focused and has slipped himself over the boil just as a sneaker set hits, and he spins and two-paddles into the drop. I take the wave on the head, dragging me underwater, ripping my paddle from my hand and breaking my leash string, losing my board. He is able to pig dog through the inside section and is spit out into the channel, while I end up there only after spending the next 30 minutes looking for my rather pricey carbon paddle from Carbonerro that also has my GoPro attached to it.
After gathering up my yard sale, I head back out and pay a lot more attention to the timing of the sets and how many waves are in them. Hitting the rhythm after a few waves, I finally see the one I’ve been waiting for.
A bit too big, a little too much wall, and I barely scramble into it. Fading my bottom turn I set up and stall on the bottom as the wave doubles up, slotting myself into the pit as time slows to a crawl. Dodging and weaving, I drive through the barrel, and, just as I’m making it out, I hit the inside section and I’m swallowed up again. Just as I lose hope, the foam ball hits me from behind, giving me the little push I need, gliding into the channel, feeling like I have been reborn. We surf until we drop because we know it could be months before we see another day of waves, also because we are addicted.
Surfing in the Turks and Caicos IslandsI’m up early the next morning, and open my door to check the surf. It’s raining outside and the thunder is actually thunder. The waves have disappeared as fast as they arrived, and I grumpily drag my feet over to the breakfast buffet, consoling myself with some white chocolate French toast, dreaming of that rare day of surfing that sneaks in every so often . . .

WATCH IT LIVE: http://vimeo.com/66256186



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Hobbyist photographer and Assistant Director for Research & Development at the TCI Department of Environment & Coastal Resources Dr. Eric F. Salamanca took this rare photo of a Bahama Woodstar hummingbird enjoying the nectar of Moringa flowers.

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