A Rainy-Day Sport

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With the rain drowning Newport, and grass hills and parks being soaked all week, I thought I’d take a moment to recount my favorite “sport” from my childhood.  I’m not sure if it has an official name, but we would always call it grass surfing.

You see, since it’s pouring rain, it’s somewhat difficult to paddle out into the ocean and get waves, for several reasons.  The wave shape is completely messed up, the water temperature has plummeted, and I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s a bit scary being in a large body of saltwater when there’s lightning off in the distance.

So, in lieu of an ocean, we used large, grass hills.

When it rains hard enough, steep hills of grass and ivy become wave substitutes.  Now before I get dozens of letters from angry parents, I’m not advising anybody to do this, because it can be dangerous on the wrong hill. I’m simply telling a story.

The easiest way to grass surf is with a slick-bottom boogie board, preferably with a leash so it doesn’t go careening into the street.  Now, there are a few different methods you can employ. Personally, I went with the full sprint leading to a leap on my stomach where I would slowly stand up once I had some speed going.  This way you don’t have to “skimboard” it down the hill, meaning you throw the board out in front and jump on it standing up, and worry about the board stopping and you flying off the front.

The hill I grew up doing this on with friends was about 100 yards in length and was around a 60 degree incline, so we got some pretty good speed going towards the bottom.  The bad part was that the run ended in shrubs and trees, so if you took the wrong path, you could be in serious trouble.

Again, not that I’m advising this practice, but a great spot could be over at Cliff Drive Park.  I’ve driven by that park hundreds of times, and every time I go by I think to myself, “There are some pretty decent hills to grass surf over there.”  Granted I’m 28 now and would probably break my neck if I tried it again, but the mind wanders when you drive.

You don’t necessarily need a steep hill to grass surf, it just makes it a bit more thrilling.  Basically any park, baseball field, or lawn in Newport will work.  If the grass or ivy is wet enough, you can definitely do it on a flat surface, just make sure you have some speed going first.

So there’s a quick look into my childhood rainy days.  I did sustain a few injuries in my grass surfing past, but it was honestly a really fun way to get outside while the rain was making others stay indoors.  Granted it was pretty cold, but wearing trunks and a rash-guard sufficed while adrenaline coursed through my body keeping me nice and warm.

Crazy, I know.

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