Jack'in Swell -- 1/10/98

Launch sequence from the Morey contest

A figure slowly approached us in the dark. He politely started talking to us about the surf conditions. That drawl sounded so familiar. "Is your name Jack?" I inquired. "Yes," he softly responded. Wow!

I then introduced myself and Jerry to Jack. After talking story more, we all decided to head into the water in the pre-dawn to avoid the inevitable crowds at Pipeline. When we went to suit up, I asked Jerry if he knew who that was. He didn't. I then told him that he had just met the legendary Jack "the Ripper" Lindholm.

For all of you who aren't familiar with him, Jack Lindholm is one of the pioneers of bodyboarding. He brought legitimacy to the sport by taking his unique act to big Pipeline way back in the mid-70's. He's famous for his "jackstance", a riding style that bears his namesake--we now know that style as the dropknee stance.

I used to marvel at "The Ripper" way back when bodyboarding was called "Boogie Boarding." It wasn't even a sport back then--no contests, videos or mags. I used to hunt down the odd shot of him in "Surfer", "Surfing" and even the now defunct "Action Now" magazines.

Jerry and I made our way to the beach, and were soon joined by Jack. We all stretched on the beach and made small talk until we felt comfortable venturing into the darkness.

The surf looked to be pretty good at about 4-8' (Haw'n) and glassy, and forecasters said it would rise dramatically throughout the day. The buoys definitely confirmed this, with an 11 PM reading of 9 feet/11 seconds, followed by the 2 AM reading of 11 feet/20 seconds. Something wicked this way comes.

I'd like to say that we ripped it up in the morning light, but that would be lying. Truth be told, the ocean was moving in weird ways, heaving and doubling up. My normal strategy of sitting deep just didn't work since the waves were mostly pitching on the inside. When Second Reef started to pop, Jerry and I both knew we were out of our league. Soon afterwards, we paddled in.

Even Jack had a tough time of it. Still, despite the sketchy conditions and the increasing pre-contest crowd, he charged into some meaty ones. I didn't get a chance to see his rides, but I'm sure he used his patented dropknee attack on the steep mounds.

Jerry caught a grand total of two waves. Nonetheless, he was stoked about the session because, despite getting slightly "hairballed out" by the ominous conditions, he's building confidence for future go-outs. Sometimes it's just as important to experience the power of the ocean from the sidelines.

As for me, I played cat and mouse chasing peaks for most of the morning, without much success (and yes, I was scared!). My most memorable ride was a quick closeout going Backdoor. I was hesitant on which way to go on the takeoff, finally turning right. It was already pitching down the line and I had no chance of making it, so I settled into a quick trim and watched the wave totally envelope my visual periphery. I remember just bailing my board, eyes shut tight, then getting sucked up the face. I was weightless, mid-barrel, for what seemed like an eternity before finally taking doughnuts (not the Krispy Kreme kind) over the inside reef.

My last wave was pretty fun. When I was way inside already riding the small whitewater, a backwash section approached me. For the fun of it, I did a kooky front-flip, and surprisingly rode it out!

We spent the remainder of the early morning watching and photographing the third round of the Morey Bodyboards men's contest. I wanted to take water shots, but they limited the amount of water photogs again. Couldn't get a pink jersey this year! (See (Sitting) Pretty in Pink to understand.)

The performance level of the contestants was incredible. Those guys were charging waves I wouldn't even take off on, then doing insane maneuvers on them. Words can't do justice to the wicked tube rides and aerial antics that we saw in the pristine conditions, so I'll just let the photos we took do the talking (see below).

We left well before the contest ended, but found out that Mike Stewart eventually captured the event, blowing away the competition in radical 15 foot Second Reef Pipe surf. Three cheers for the old guard--to all the old-time riders in their thirties and beyond who are still charging! :-)

Before leaving, we again saw Jack. "It was nice to get in the water with you guys before it got really crowded," he softly commented to us, his stoke very visible in his demeanor. Ironic, coming from the man who's skill and talent helped propel the sport of bodyboarding into its present mass popularity.

Bodyboarding has really come a long way since "The Ripper" first started charging Pipeline over 20 years ago. But stoke never goes out of style.

More images from the 1998 Morey Bodyboards International Championships. Keep in mind, the swell was on the rise!

Conditions were pristine in the morning

Mental el rollo over a massive foamball

Cutting back into the hook

Tube seque--check the amount of taper

Dropping into oblivion

In the jaws of the beast (omigod!)

Aloha from Paradise,
sponge (also still stoked after all these years)