STAB ISSUE 72, 2014
A Bitchy Crab!
Lewis Samuels is a Jewish prick from Bolinas near San Francisco. Mid thirties. Contracts for Google. Wears flannel and spectacles favoured by middle-aged women. Unremarkable in most ways except for his passion for surf and writing. He do both real well.
When Stab calls Lewis to talk about an opinion piece he’s written for this issue that suggests sharks killing surfers might actually be a good thing, he’s fresh from a mid-winter session in “triple overhead spitting barrels.”
“I just surfed for six hours,” says Lewis. “I’m burnt out. I need a large sandwich. I’m drinking some coconut water.”
But that’s what we I love about Lew. He actually does walk his tough talk. And there’s a couple of paragraphs in his story Can Sharks Save Surfing where Lewis describes a pal of his being dragged into the depths by a great white while surfing an outer reef. When I ask via email for him to elaborate on the event he types back, “Yeah, all true. It’s very sharky north of SF. I like it that way.”
That ain’t the elaboration I seek. So I call Lew to talk.
“Look it up in the San Francisco Chronicle. His name’s Royce Fraley. All my friends who’ve been attacked by sharks are alive. My story would’ve been different if my friends had died. But the story is, like, if you’re going to surf big waves, be fucking willing to be held under or if you surf Indonesia be willing to be cut up. If you surf around here in northern California, you might get hit by a shark.”
Royce has been attacked by a shark twice. There was another time where he was hit from below and the shark threw him into the air. Yet another time he saw a little gal in the jaws of doom.
But let’s zoom in on the time Royce was taken in front of Lew’s eyes. “We were really far out to sea, literally, about a kilometre out to sea, 45 minutes to paddle out, no one else near him, another friend way up the line. When the attack happened, there was no one else to do anything. What the fuck are you going to do? You’re not going to leave your friend out there. I saw out of the corner of my eye this explosion and as I turned around I saw the shark breaching out of the water, him in his mouth. Then they fell down in an explosion of whitewater. It was like when a whale breaches. A 15-foot great white is as big as a car. They’re a lot fatter in person than you’d think they would be. Royce was in the fish’s mouth and there was this fucking impact into the water. And then they were gone. Just a whirlpool of displaced water where he’d been.”
Lewis ain’t one to shirk his duty as a man and a friend, but still. “I’lll be honest,” says Lew. “My first fucking response was to paddle away. I got a few strokes away, thought about it, and thought, my friend needs help. I paddled back over. And then he popped up and pretty much paddled up onto my back. I didn’t want to look. I figured he’d have half a leg missing. But then he fucking seemed to be okay.”
The pair and another surfer pal made it in. Lew ran a mile to a payphone and got the fire trucks and the ambulance. Royce’s injuries? Scratches from rubbing against the white’s torso.
“He was literally holding onto the board as the shark took him under and he bounced off the shark,” says Lew.
And the next day? “I was back out there. The waves were good,” says Lew.
We’re blessed to swim in his enthusiasm.
(All you gen-y’s, you can read this issue on your computer thingy!)