You have just had a session at your local break with over sixty in the lineup, and the only wave you caught was a drop in. Imagine, Dear Reader, surfing one of the best waves on the planet and sharing only with your best mate.
This is exactly what happened to William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days, when he accidentally stumbled upon a gem at Tavarua Island, Fiji. After weeks sailing around the South Pacific in 1978 searching for waves, a sailor casually mentioned that there might be a wave on this remote island. By pure chance, they arrived just before the swell season arrived and, heeding advice from a local (who'd never seen a surfboard and thought they were some kind of wing ) told them about the huge waves. They stocked up on food and waited. The first solid swell arrived at the beginning of August.
"There were head high days. There were overhead days, and generally, it got better as it got bigger, the water was so clear that all I could see was the reef. The sea was transparent. It was like surfing on air ".
On leaving Tavarua they swore a code of silence. For years only a handful of surfers knew of its existence.
From surfing 15' waves on a long-gone break on Madeira to Ocean Beach to San Fransisco, on a day when the water temperature is below 9c, and the waves are triple overhead. Finnegan's tales are inspiring, scary and brilliantly written.
Barbarian Days, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography and the William Hill Sports book in 2016, is the perfect memoir to give to your surfing friends and those family members who struggle to understand your addiction.
You can buy Barbarian days here.