Thank you to those who had some thoughtful responses here. Perhaps others were misunderstanding some of my statements and description of the day's events although I tried to depict it as accurately as possible to get some valuable feedback. I was also looking for recall of events some of you have had that were similarly intense and ones you learned from.
For those that think I took this guy out flying by the seat of his pants and telling him to go into the 5-footers for fun, simply not the case. At this beach break, there are a variety of waves and sets and areas that differ much from one another on any given day. 4-5 feet of clean breaking waves was the upper limit of what that day and time had to offer. I'm recalling 5.2 as what that day was listed as but that was the early AM height and we went out towards mid-day when it was scheduled to recede progressively with time.
When we headed out, it was for the purpose of developing his balance on the board, paddling, duck diving, and for smaller clean waves with moderate power to paddle into them and bodyboard to feel the lift of the wave and know when the right time to pop up (in much later sessions) is. At no point was there any intent to thrust this guy into anything above 3-4 in height or with any chop.
When we paddled out back, it was through 2-3 footers that had plenty long period for recovery in between if he didn't handle it well at which point we could've turned back in and rode the white to the shore. I asked him on each wave we duck dove or paddled over the top unbroken if he was good to keep going and he answered that he was, and I was really listening more to what I saw which was that he was, in fact, keeping up and handling it well and really enjoying it.
Once we got out back, it was to take a rest and to show him and explain to him the sequence of waves and how and when they break and where and when we want to be when we try to catch one. After that, we were then going to head back in towards the shore and work on reps of paddling into much smaller waves (2-2.5ft) than the biggest the day had to offer. Those waves near the shore I am talking about are at a depth where we'd be able to stand on the bottom between waist and chest height when standing on the bottom.
This beach is about a quarter mile wide (400 yards or so) that have an island on one side and a rock jetty on the other. We headed out right in the middle where there were no hazards and waves that were not going to change much from one minute to the next. I believe the precursor to the sideshore is what started to drift us over to the rocks. We were still outside 100 yards from the rocks when I told him we needed to go back towards the middle and get with our other buddies and practice on the waves nearer to the shore. At no point did I plan, intend, or allow for us to be dabbling with the rocks. It was the wave he tried to catch after I told him that we needed to head back towards the middle and away from that area that brought him over into the rock domain.
If the least common denominator of the day was the possibility of him making a choice on his own outside of what I was directing him or us to do, and the consequences of his free will decision and action, then I take full responsibility for that. If not for the very quick wind change and therefore change in conditions on that part of the beach that we didn't even intend to be around or involved in, the conditions would have remained such that we could navigate and choose to interact with freely in a way that control and safety was constant. As someone else posted, sometimes nature decides on a whim to throw something totally different at us than what looked to be predictable.
The 7-8 footers that occurred there were in a 100 foot (not 100 yard) stretch as a result of a rapid-onset sideshore current (not in the forecast at all) plus it's location at the rock jetty. This friend was not taken into OH-DOH conditions, thrown on a gun that he couldn't paddle on let alone pop up or ride on, and expect to be smacking lip like he was born with it. Please note that I've also seen that area near the rocks swell to steep conditions out of nowhere on days that had 1-2 footers and mush on the rest of the beach. So basically, while this is a break that many people of all abilities surf regularly and safely, we could've ended up in a similar situation on a day that had just above a flat forecast if we got improbably pulled into this 50-100 foot area on what is a 1600+ foot wide beach. Albeit, on such a day I would imagine the volatile zone of sideshore would be 4-5 feet smashing up against the rocks and with much less power.
As for inflated sense of ability, I'm not sure where that came from. I'm a 33-year old grom that has a fiery stoke that brings me out there daily to get better in all ways and to truly progress at a fast rate you need to have a mindset that you always have so much to improve on. That is the way I think daily. In my original post, I stated that given my recent level of commitment to high volume of daily/weekly water time and keeping it anaerobic nearly the whole time out there, I don't think I may have survived the 15 minutes of fury I ended up in. That's a fact. This was the 14th consecutive day I was on the water and the first 7 of those days were when it was cranking clean daily here and I totaled 20+ hours that week including a 7 hour day across 4 sessions. Very little of this is sitting in a lineup. It's predominantly spent paddling hard, getting through white to reach out back, and then sprint paddling in attempt to catch waves at a fairly steady rate. Every time I step into the water it is with complete humility for the reality that we are all ants in the sheer power of the ocean's strength and will. If me stating that I've logged serious quality training time for the last couple months in an effort to ready myself for all conditions is taken by some of you as a statement of grandiosity that I should be joining the ASP tour tomorrow, then I can't help how you read into things. Take out the last few months of full physical and mental commitment to this sport, yet still put me in Sunday's situation and there's a 90%+ chance I wouldn't be here to post this now.
Neither was I overstating my friend's ability of surfing out of the womb. Considering that less than 5% (perhaps still generous) of people that set stomach on a board and paddle out for the first couple times run marathons and do not have at least some inkling of the assault and battery the ocean can give you, it's tough to argue that my friend is a good candidate to bring out there and help learn. Never said he was going to innately shred OH+ green. A guy who's got a diverse background of high commitment, skill, and conditioning and a competitive mindset is a preferable blank slate for someone to take along with you to share this great sport with. I'm sure you'd all rather someone like him by your side compared to the liability of some of the SUP physiques that are jeered at on here.
I take full responsibility for anything and everything that happened that day. I'm a "bottom line" type of guy, so if this was a result of taking an inexperienced friend out on a day that had any possibility of danger, then it's something I will not repeat. What I was trying to gather from responses to my original post is 1) what are your thoughts on the situation I described (I think we've got that); 2) what similar dangerous situations have you been in, whether or not calculated planning was made to prevent safety issues; 3) are we truly susceptible to nature's whimsical ways on most any given day? As said, I've seen that rock jetty start popping off like a volcano in a matter of minutes even on 1-2 foot days elsewhere on the beach. Unfortunately, we were unable to avoid it even when trying to when it popped off on this day.
For the excitable responders to this thread, I'm sure you've had your own learning experiences even in times where you made efforts to calculate the right decisions and outcomes. Please listen to the poster who talked about not turning people off from this forum. It's a great place to find others that understand why we get up at the azz crack of dawn to get smacked in the face with thousands of pounds of aqueous solution in search of those few seconds of bliss on rides in between. I'm out there every day now and in full effort and gratitude trying to take in as much as there is to be had on the water.
The only thing I see wrong is being anywhere near a jetty, pier, or other obstacle that a beginner would find hard to negotiate. Better to find a wide-open beach area for surf lessons. A lot of beginners are not aware of their positions in the water as far as drift is concerned. Next thing you know they are way down the beach. Or they get a little bolder if everything is going good and decide to tackle too much -- like your friend not listening to you when you told him you should move out of there.
I've done some unwise things by myself which could have turned out bad. Way back when I was 18 and invincible I decided to take a day-trip to Hatteras when a big swell was expected since I only lived a few hours away. I ended up at the Avon Fishing Pier with waves that were breaking about 200 yards or more beyond the pier. There was nobody surfing or even or even on the beach, so it was hard to really tell how big it was. I ended up sitting on the beach for about an hour trying to get the balls to paddle out. I timed the sets while sitting there and found that they were coming in about every 20 minutes with five waves to each set. The sea was completely flat in between sets. Finally got the nerve to go so I waited for a set to start and then started paddling out. I made it out just before the next set started with dry hair since the turbulent water subsided before I got out. The waves broke big outside and then reformed much smaller on the inside, but they were shorebreak by then.
I'm sitting out there and realize that I'm much further out than I thought and also that the waves are just way out of my league. They had to have 15'-20' faces on the biggest ones. While sitting out there a bigger set came in so I had to stroke for the horizon and hope for the best. Barely made it over the last one. Realizing I was not going to catch a wave I had to paddle back in. So I waited for another set to finish and started stroking for shore. Thought I was doing great until the next set came in. I was already in past the break zone so I knew that there was no chance of spinning around and trying to duck dive -- not that that was a good idea either. I ended up bear-hugging my 5' 8" board for dear life and took a whitewater beating I'll never forget. By some miracle I ended up still hanging onto my board and got moved closer to shore so that the remaining waves did not get me too bad. Just glad it was the first wave of the set that hit me and not the last. It took me a total of 30 minutes to get back in because of the current. If anything had happened out there I was all alone. No one surfing and no one on the beach.
Lessons learned: Know my limits, never surf alone, surf with someone who has knowledge of big waves, if that voice inside says, "don't do it," then bail. Live to surf another day.
And after 3 pages of posts telling the OP that he made a massive mistake, he posts another novel about how he didn't make a mistake...
love how he has trained for months to make sure he didn't die in 5 foot surf. also love how the sideshore current wasn't in the forecast, so he couldn't have known about it...
and stop talking about how great shape you're in. you had flippers on and had the benefit of a board, and still couldn't stay out of trouble. that is not impressive to anyone. surfers break leashes all the time, in waves much bigger, with rips much stronger, and swim in without the aid of flippers. that is being in shape for the water. not whatever half marathons your friend has run in, or whatever mental and physical training you have done. your a joke.
stay out of the water kook, you're a danger to yourself and others around you. If you didn't learn from this, you have no business being in the water.
If you don't surf, don't start. Honestly... if you're online asking "what went wrong", you need to rethink what kind of water you can handle, let alone what you can bring a beginner out in. Who cares that he's a great skater? Wtf? I taught exactly two people to surf, and there's no way I'd bring any beginner out for their second day in even chest high waves. Here you are dragging someone out there then talking about "giants" and "bombs"...
It's crossed my mind that the original post is a hoax. Elaborate, but still a hoax..
Emass, i have a big issue w/ the fact that you don't seem to have any sense of remorse or that you royally screwed up by taking your friend out in those conditions. you sound arrogant & so overly self-assured that you've made yourself a danger in the line up (& as a result, put your friend at risk).
you seriously don't see your mistake, & that's scarey. i'm glad you're not near me where i might have to share a line up w/ you.