Not Your Average Joel -- 11/8/97

Joel, on a good trim

I first met Joel towards the end of my heavy contest days. Joel was this bright-eyed guy from the North Shore who was just getting into the bodyboarding comp scene (by that time, I felt like the old sage of contest surfing). I still remember Joel coming to me, enthusiastically talking about his first win. Classic surfer-dude type guy.

Little did I realize that he was a white-hot underground rider who just so happened to be extremely well-versed in electronics and computers. I guess, when I see someone in only one context, my perception sometimes gets unfairly narrowed.

After years of not seeing him around, we finally reconnected at a computer store where we exchanged email addresses and planned to one day hook up. Well, that day finally came around.

We planned to meet at Ehukai before first light on Saturday, then find a spot to bodyboard. There was a bit of surf expected, but the winds were forecast to be onshore from the north.

We arrived simultaneously at the park at 5:30, and were immediately bummed by the conditions--small and blown. After talking story a bit, we decided to check Velzyland in hopes of better things.

Making our way to the beach, we both admired the lucidly clear sky filled with constellations and meteors. But the surf at V-land wasn't much better than Ehukai, with the winds shearing off the tops of the slightly bigger waves.

Hoping for some miraculous swing in conditions, we just cruised and talked story past dawn. We talked a lot about work and life in general. Joel has a great game plan for life, and has positioned himself well to make it happen (smart). Inevitably, our conversation turned to bodyboarding.

I was in awe of his descriptions of Waimea shorebreak, where he has had quite a bit of experience riding (behold a wave Joel called "fun"). He described one ride where the shockwave--the wave created by the impact of the lip--was about two feet high! (I think only bodyboarders are tuned into this phenomenon--never read about any surfer talking about this.) The closeout shorebreak itself, was well over 10 feet, Hawaiian, and his description of the "mountain heaving out in front of him" made my stomach curl.

As a last gasp for surf, we decided to give Off-the-Wall a shot before heading home. Surprise! Even though conditions were still poor, at least there was a bit of size to muck around in (SNN called it a "messy 2-4 ft"). We were out there!

The waves were indeed pretty marginal, allowing only for bumpy rides and a few coverups. But it was great catching what we could, and even fun getting caught inside. I especially felt good about riding with someone with a lot more savvy than I have--I think it helped push me harder.

Unfortunately for me, I had to do my usual early morning bail-out. But fortunately for Joel, the wave size and quality kept improving. He decided to hang out a bit longer before heading in.

It's interesting getting to know someone beyond mutual interests. You may find, like I did with Joel, that you have a lot more in common with someone than you may think. I guess even poor surf conditions can create opportunities for enlightenment.

Aloha from Paradise,