Settling for Kea'au's -- 11/29/97

Free Hawaii

The North Shore was forecast to be bombarded by an 8-10'+ (Haw'n) NNW swell, with gale-forced tradewinds in the15-35 mph range. Only one thing to do... go west, young man! Sooo... we planned for a Saturday dawn patrol somewhere along the Waianae coast. Jimmy, the longboard convert, bailed on us, so Jerry, Blake and I chose to charge on our bodyboards.

By dawn, we had zig-zagged the entire coastline looking for decent waves--apparently the swell was late in arriving. Makaha was out of the question because the annual Rell Sunn Keiki Surf Contest was on (must've been triple overhead for some of the kids :-) ). We finally settled on Kea'au Beach Park.

I was hesitant of the choice because its close proximity to Makaha would make it the first choice for the overflow traffic. It wasn't looking all that great in the surf department either. In hindsight, it turned out to be a pretty good call.

We jumped in at 6:30 into an empty Free Hawaii lineup (actually the break right next). The surf was OK, but not nearly as big as we'd hoped/feared. It was about 2-4' (Haw'n), with most sets in the overhead range. The winds were offshore and fairly light, sheltered by the nearby mountainside. The surf peeled both ways right up to a somewhat imposing reef/ledge.

We gorged ourselves on the waves, tentatively at first, but eventually with a go-for-it attitude. Jerry and Blake were favoring the rights, but I found the lefts to be a little more challenging with a quick peel line. Most of my rides were full-on trims right up to the craggy shore.

Eventually, I egged Jerry and Blake into going left too. On one wave, Jerry looked tentative on the takeoff so I barked at him to go. He took off nicely, rode it for about 20 yards before pulling through a closout section. Sometimes a bit of vocal encouragement from the shoulder can help you get over the hump.

In a moment of reflection between sets, Jerry said, "Just look--green trees, blue ocean, lava rocks, rainbow, caves on the mountainside--it's perfect." Looking at the offshore spray of the mini-cloudbreak waves on the horizon, I couldn't have agreed with him more.

Throughout the session, we nervously eyed the parking lot, watching people file through to check out the surf. We always braced ourselves for the oncoming crowd, but surprisingly, they all drove off. For two hours, we had the spot all to ourselves. Sometimes I like to think (in my self-aggrandizing manner) that people paddle into our lineup because we are tearing it up, making the surf look good. I guess on that day, we weren't impressing many people with our riding prowess. :-/

Finally, two tankers and a shortboarder joined us. We were so spoiled by our solitude, that six people in the lineup felt like a huge crowd. Fortunately, we were already well-satiated.

I decided to spend my last hour of water time at the shorebreak of Kea'au's proper. The spot was pretty busy that morn--must've been working. Kea'au's breaks over a flat, shallow shelf, and combining with a sidewash and a backwash, it amalgamates into a short, but intense pit.

The lineup had what seemed to be a tight crew of young locals, mostly surfers. They had the spot pretty wired, with exceptional positioning and commitment for the jacking takeoffs. I was fortunate enough to snag a few "cherry" waves--it helped that I knew one of the boys from my old contest days.

One wave was a small, but memorable (only) chest high barrel. On the takeoff, the water just drew off of the shelf, and it felt like I was sizzling through the tube at breakneck speed. Near the opening of the barrel, there was a small bump of a wave within my wave. I ended up launching off of it, flying midair in the tube, exiting just as I bounced back down. Maybe only two seconds in the compact tube, but I was fully buzzed by the intense experience!

Jerry and Blake eventually followed my lead. Jerry was very surprised by the wave's power, and grazed the reef twice in just 15 minutes of playing time. Blake was already pretty exhausted from Free Hawaii, so he took it easy. We left soon afterwards.

In the beginning, I thought we were settling for mediocre wave conditions. However, it turned into a pretty damned good "double-session," with clean waves, little crowd and a killer ambiance. Couldn't ask for more.

Aloha from Paradise,