I grew up in Miami, actually Hallandale and Hollywood. I learned to surf at age six on Hallandale Beach. I’m 66 now and still wearing Birdies. My shop was Bill Ridolf’s Little Hawaii Surf Shop on Hollywood Beach.
One winter’s afternoon we had a head-high groundswell and I was surfing out behind the old Hollywood Beach Hotel. I had been out for a couple hours and it seemed like it was getting better. I was sitting around, the set wave came, and I went, “Nice wave,” and I got off the top two or three times when a dolphin jumped right out of the face of the wave, maybe 15 or 20 feet right in front of me. I instantly thought I was dead and that it was a shark and it was over. When I heard it blow I knew I was okay and hung right in the top of the wave, and as soon as it went under another came right out of the face of the wave. As soon as it went under I dropped in, just trying to get to the shoulder without getting hit. When I got to the shoulder I thought I was gonna kick out and see what was going on, but instead I instantly jumped down and went on in. About halfway in I thought, Did that really happen? When I got to the beach and stood up my knees were shaking. So I stood there and leaned on my board trying to stop shaking. Suddenly I heard all this screaming and yelling and I looked around the side of my board and this lady came running up the beach saying, “I saw that! I saw that! I saw what happened!” I just stood there looking at her while she went on. “I can’t believe I saw that! How did you stay on your board?”
I said, “Honestly lady, I was too scared to fall off.”
She said, “That was incredible!”
I said, “Yes it was. Yes it was,” and I walked on up the beach.
I must admit, I wizzed my Birdies… It was unreal.