Sunday, June 4, 2017

Jumping the Shark

Submitted by Kanjena Sweetleaf

There are many known worlds in Second Life and many beaches in these worlds, and there are many beaches that are known as surfing beaches. It’s true to say that a surfing beach needs only to have surf-able waves to be named as a surf beach.  There are many surf beaches where the waves are an extra, something added on to attract surfers, to evoke a vibe which identifies with a certain idea of the surfing lifestyle, but not all these beaches provide a great surfing experience for the serious Second Life surfers. I like hanging out in all kinds of beautiful and interesting places but when it comes to surfing, I do have expectations, foremost being, a good ride on the waves.

The waves

One of my favourite places, Diablo at Scorpion Bay, Scorpion Bay (144, 204, 22) - Adult, fulfills all my expectations of a surf beach and then some. It’s a replication of Baja in Mexico but the theme is more than a visual aesthetic as Diablo is an immersive experience, enriched by the flora and fauna of the Baja region. There's lots to see and do here. There are notecards hidden in starfish in various locations which give information about the locale, the wildlife of the beach, skies and ocean, and some which tell of the legends of Scorpion Bay.

Scorpion Bay

There are some rental homes fitted around the perimeter of the bay and some nice places to sit and relax; to make romance, pose and dance, or just watch the glorious sunsets and the pounding waves below. There are hang gliders which I failed to fly with any skill and Base jumping which I also failed at but still enjoyed. It’s a clothing optional beach, too. I like the choice as it’s a nice place to be naked as it’s so wild and natural looking with the majority of the space taken up by the glorious waves.

I’ve been coming here for some time now and my Diablo routine starts at the Landing Bay which is full of info about the sim.  There’s a little surf shop, too. I head out from here, up the wooden stairway to the top of the cliffs where I usually start to run and then leap off the cliff edge down to the beach. There is a staircase, too, for those less hasty types. Down at the beach there’s a handy rezz point for boards, between the brown pelicans and the massive leatherback turtle.  From here it’s straight out onto the waves.

The rezz point

It’s a great place to surf, in my opinion.  The ride is long and smooth as the Maoli waves move fast towards shore and the speed creates some great physical reactions.  Lots of big air for those like me who love to fly. They keep coming, too.  There’s no paddling out to try to catch the next wave as there’s always another wave coming along soon. There are buoys acting as a waiting point at the rise of the waves where surf etiquette is emphasized by a sign reminding to ‘Please Take Turns’  and there’s a surf etiquette noticeboard at the rezz point at the beach. I appreciate this.  Etiquette is important, it raises awareness of the fellow surfer, and that’s a good thing for surfing and for humanity.  I like beaches that have a discernible waiting point.  It means simply that people know where to wait for the wave and also where not to stray beyond, a faux pas which I often see which can stop the waves from generating.

The calm before the swell

After a surf, I’ll often go up to the Mission de la Santo Virgen Wendi, a ruined chapel at the top of the cliffs. It’s a nice spot to chill and watch the sunset, imagining a glass of wine to wash away the taste of sea salt. There is an interactive starfish with a notecard inside explaining all about the legend of Virgen Wendi and it’s a very enjoyable tale, one which resonates with the sensual environment of Diablo. On a small headland opposite the Mission is a graveyard which is well worth a visit, too.  The legends of Scorpion Bay start and end at this viewpoint.

Mission de la Santo Virgen Wendi

A surfer friend often talks of his love for the Gulls of Diablo, the Western Gulls, who swoop around the bay and sometimes seem to dive-bomb me when I’m on the waves. I have grown fond of the gulls.  They act as spirit guides to the surfers, they dare me to copy their graceful swoops and arabesques as they maraud the air above the waves.

There are sharks at Diablo, too, beautiful predators that act as living memento mori. We must respect the sharks.  We are visitors to their home and the surf board propped up at the shore near the rez point reminds us that we must never bite off more than we can chew.  The shark has that biting off thing covered already.

Another pleasure of mine is to swim with the whales in the bay.  It's a truly immersive experience, an epiphany with an ancient earth presence.  Their titanic scale and gentle movement soothes me and resets my sense of time and perspective, a genuine moment of of Second Life wonder.

Whale swimming (photo by Ambre Singh)

I had a chat with one of the Sim owners and creators, Brooke Leung, and asked  a few questions about Diablo at Scorpion Bay:

Surfwatch: What is the real world inspiration for Diablo? Is it a specific part of Baja?
Brooke: I guess its our vision of Baja, southern Cali, northern Mexico. Someplace where the federales can't find you. Build a shack out of driftwood, drop your hat and stay a while. Surf during the day and build a fire and cook something you caught at night and drink a few Cerveza. There is a bay on the west coast of northern Mexico called Scorpion Bay. Hence the Diablo at Scorpion Bay.

Surfwatch: When was Diablo created? Who were the instigators?
Brooke: Diablo was opened in February 2014. My mother (El Elephas) and I used to go sit at another Baja surf sim that we thought was pretty. We loved the vibe. We sit and talk for hours and look over their bay. But it bugged the hell out of me that to surf it you had to pay. Had to be a member (500 LS to join) to rez a board and at the time they didn't have a rezzer.  Not sure if they have one now.  To me, surfing and the ocean you shouldn't have to pay to use.  So one night in September of 2013, we decided to create a place with a similar vibe that anyone could use.  I've always loved the feel of being on a beach that is so deserted and with no one for miles. A beach all to yourself. The cliffs and the residences are here for a reason but the main focus of Diablo was the beach and surfing and still is.

Surfwatch: It's a superb surf beach for 'serious' surfers, when and how did you get into SL surfing?
Brooke: I've been SL surfing for many years. I stumbled into Mori Pwani , gone now, and I was hooked. Met some very good people there and learned to SL surf. Never been into the competitive side of it,  just a relaxing activity. I'm not really gonna tell you how long ago that was but let's just say it was a while ago. Been exploring SL surfing ever since. So many great beaches.

Surfwatch: I love reading about the wildlife at Diablo.  Is there a motive behind having an educational experience at Diablo?
Brooke: You found the starfishes (smiles).  Well, I wanted some way to share some of what I learned while researching the wildlife for the Diablo. We took our time and made sure the wildlife and landscape were authentic to Baja. Then as we went along, my mother decided that Diablo needed a back story, how it got its name, etc. So we added some additional starfishes with the story of Diablo, fictional of course.  My mother came up with Virgin Wendi.  She is my SL sister and the description is not far off.  Funny thing is when you first arrive at Diablo, we inform visitors to look for the starfishes but few bother to look. I hope you found the one in the graveyard. We had fun making the legend up.

Surfwatch: Is the look of of Diablo your idea? How does its visual identity relate to you?  Just generally wondering how Diablo reflects your personality, as having seen your flickr page and it's obvious creativity and humour.  I was wondering if Diablo was like a 3D version of that creativity?
Brooke: We wanted a secluded beach where people could feel like they were alone. I love the feeling of being on a totally deserted beach, just me and my board. The wildlife  is part of my love for nature and the starfishes were to educate on conservation and protecting what we have. We tend to take it for granted sometimes. The base jumping, hang gliding and surfing in a bay full of sharks you can say is the adventurous side.  So I guess there is a little not only of me but of most that crave adventure.

Surfwatch: I feel there is a bit of Virgin Wendi in all of us and a bit of everyone in her.  She's my candidate for patron saint of SL. Do you think her cult could grow and envelop the Grid?  Or is she more of a site specific icon?
Brooke: One day I'll introduce you and let you judge for yourself. She is SEX and so sweet, just  talking to her might give you a cavity. Sexuality oozes out of her and it's contagious. What's the old saying, guys love her and girls want to be her. She is the official sex mascot of Diablo. Diablo being an adult sim, there are places to get funky here, let's just say that. But you have to explore and find them. Again there are many little secrets hidden throughout the sim.. People need to take the time and smell the cactus. And yes, I like to think there is a Virgin Wendi hidden in all of us.

Another sunset

Naturally I arrive at the same juncture that all my meanderings lead to, that is, the question wrapped in the joke, ‘It’s all very well in practice but how does it work in theory?’

Diablo has a sense of continuum, of timeless activity, a wave that keeps coming at speed and a horizon that can never be reached. The creatures that patrol the waters sing of this process, this natural coming and going, as if the human presence is temporary, blessed to ride the waves and dwell with the creatures, to surf with sharks and survive, to witness another sunset and sunrise.

The Theorist Hannah Arendt writes in The Human Condition:
"The reason why we are never able to foretell the outcome and end of any action is simply that action has no end. The process of a single deed can quite literally endure throughout time until mankind itself has come to an end."

And this is where I leave myself at Diablo, endless on the waves, another leap, another twist off the crest, another pirouette down the face, forever jumping the shark…


Fonda Fugue said...

One of my favorites, also. Thanks for taking the time to write about it!

Kanjena Sweetleaf said...

Hi Fonda :)
Best wishes to you, thanks for the comment and the cool photo x

SurfWatch/Tauri Tigerpaw said...

Beautifully descriptive piece, Kanjena - makes me want to head right over the check it out myself! Thank you so much!

Nash Laville said...

Great article about a great beach! Well done!! Great photos too. Thanks.