RWA Alumni Play Day with Christine Burris and Bob Burnett
By Christine Burris
Back when Bob and I were still “just friends,” he invited me along on several outings with his Gone Paddling crew. GP is a select group of former students who are—as Bob would say—“hungry.” On one occasion, we rented a big house at Greylands Beach just south of Westport on the Washington coast, and attempted to have a surf weekend. Many were there including Ed Hand, Setsuko Cox, Dave Mottershead, Sean Watson, Chester Knapp, Matt Charles, Jon Sindelar, Ian and Megan Brosnan, Alex Otto (aka Tacoma Kayaker) and probably a half-dozen more that I can’t call to mind. Reminiscing with Jon this weekend, he recalled how heading down the driveway of a house with about eight cars topped with kayaks just gave him a sense that this was going to be great. It was!
The surf was…horrible! Winds at 20-plus knots blew wet sand across the beach, stinging our faces. The five-foot wind waves connected with the six- foot swell, creating a zipper effect that made our paddlers look like tiny toy boats in a child’s bathtub. Dave Mottershead and Bob Burnett patrolled the beach and kept eyes on us. I occasionally window-shaded my helmet and shoulders into the sand, and Dave would kindly empty my boat, give a few suggestions and send me back out with a pat on the head. Bob kept throwing his arms up saying, “These conditions are crap! You don’t have to go out there!” Nevertheless, out we went. Sean Watson earned a new nickname breaking not one, but two paddles that day. By the end, we were cold and tired and headed back to the house for hot showers and a potluck. Somebody hooked up a video camera to the TV and we watched and laughed and shared stories of the day.
Years go by and people come and go. Megan and Ian moved to D.C. and Sean “Two Paddles” Watson evolved into the talented surfer that we can glimpse through the eyes of Inga’s lens.
Last weekend we had a Rogue Wave Alumni Play Day. Once again, the conditions were less than perfect, but as always we went in search of fun. Some of the original GP crew were there along with talented friends, like Brian Hollander and Jason Learned, who have become RWA instructors and most importantly, new friends like Connie Greenage, Dave Kirtsmiller and David Crocker, who have that look of “hunger” in their eyes. Together we traveled in search of the mysterious door in the rock face just west of Crescent Beach, and along the way fostered friendship and mentorship as everyone practiced skills in the rocks, swell and the afternoon surf. I am already starting to ponder when and where the next alumni event should be.