Corky Carroll

Sound, feeling of barrel ride unmistakable.

In surfing there is a thing that we all strive for. It is to get "inside" of the wave. We call it getting into the "barrel," or into the "tube, curl, green room or pipe."

I have also heard it called the "Green Cathedral," and the "Tunnel of Wet Love." That last one works pretty good in describing the surfing thing of getting into the hollow part of the wave as it breaks. To do it right you need to also emerge out the end of the tunnel as the wave peels along.

When you are perfectly into that wonderful watery pocket there is a certain sound that is unmistakable. It's a sound that once you have heard it you wanna hear it again and again. Like the angels singing. Combined with the feeling of the cover up it is more or less the ultimate surfing experience.

Over the years I have been asked to describe this many times and it always comes out pretty much the same way. It is a feeling that only can be felt and not described. But the sound is something like that of being in a drainpipe with you riding through it. It's very magical.

For most of my surfing life I have described my first "in the curl" experience from a ride I got on my first surfboard out in front of my house in Surfside when I had been surfing about a year. One day I was on this wave that was over my head and it started to close out in front of me. I thought about trying to straighten out but I was too locked into the direction I was going and was not good enough yet to make a sudden cutback. And it was too late to kick out.

So my only choice was to jump off or just stand there and eat it like a rat. I froze. Then a miracle happened. The wave broke right over my head and just kept peeling off with me inside of it. I came out the other side just pulsating with adrenaline. Talk about being totally stoked? I was in surf hog heaven. I heard "the sound." Forget college mom and dad.

I had always remembered that as my first time in the barrel. But then the other day I realized that I had actually experienced this before that and had forgotten about it. What triggered the memory was I was driving through Malibu Canyon on the way to a job I got doing a small part in a new movie. We passed a little road that turned off the highway and I was telling my wife, the extremely kool Kika, that when I was a little boy my parents had sent me off to a summer camp right there. It was called Kilgore's Kiddie Camp.

I was really little and my only memory of the camp itself was that I cried the first night and wanted my mommy. And there was a girl who got attacked by bees and I was scared of bees for a long time after that.

But also one day they took us all by bus to a little beach just south of Malibu. It is where there is a little walk bridge going across Pacific Coast Highway. I was wading around in the shorebreak when a wave broke right over me. I heard the sound. The wave creamed me but I liked the feeling of being inside of it and the sound.

For the next hour I kept trying to get another wave to break over me but all I succeeded in doing was getting thrashed. Some girl told me that I would get brain damage if I kept doing that. Humph. Maybe she was right.

That memory came flooding back into my mind as I was telling Kika about being at the summer camp and I realized that it was actually then that I got my first barrel and not on that wave at Surfside. But seeing as how I was just standing there and had no way to come out the end I guess it would not count as a real barrel ride. Nonetheless it was cool. And I did keep my Kilgore's Kiddie Camp T-shirt in my collection for years and years.

This does not mean you should go stand in the path of breaking waves. It's just a little recollection of memorable moments of spending an entire life trying to stay in the "curl."