Hurricane Gloria gave surfer Patrick (Trick) Standing, 25, a glorious ride this morning.
As spectators watched and kibitzed, Standing launched self and surfboard into the angry ocean before dawn. He paddled along the north side of the fishing pier, which Gloria had shortened in the night from 728 feet to 400 feet long.
"Insane! Insane!" a surfer shouted to Standing -- words of admiration and encouragement.
"Surfers will do anything for a good wave," said fellow-surfer Rick Little, 16.
Standing paddled from piling to piling and finally reached the end of the pier. The pilings had given him a calm stretch of water to get to the action. He paused at the end of the pier and studied the roars dead ahead of him.
At just the right instant, he paddled furiously and bucked through the first white roller, then two more and was soon in the calmer water beyond.
As he waited, spectators could see the big wave building far behind him. He would have to catch it just right to avoid being tumbled or thrown against the pilings.
"He'll get crushed," said someone in the thickening crowd. "He'll hit one of those pilings."
Gloria had ripped up some of the pier's pilings and replanted them on its north side, where they stuck out of the water like ugly antitank traps. But sun shone through a crack in the low-slung gray sky and appeared to promise success.
The building wave seemed to hang over Standing. He disappeared, surely tumbling down inside it. Suddenly he rose straight up on top of his surfboard, racing sideways along the wave's forward edge.
"All right! All right!" somebody yelled.
Standing stayed with the wave till it collapsed underneath him. It was spent. He belly-flopped onto his board and paddled ashore.
"Weren't you afraid of running into one of those pilings?" a reporter asked.
"No," he answered. "They weren't moving. I could steer around them. I was worried about the floating ones."
"We probably won't rebuild the pier," said Al (Gator) Murden, its general manager. He said the pier had been battered several times by storms since it was constructed in 1950. This time, he said, it would cost too much to rebuild.
So Gloria got the pier. But Trick Standing caught Gloria's big wave.