Pinballed, Part 2 -- 2/7/98

Jimmy and Jerry, ready for some Pinball action

In the office, we've been doing a lot of trash talk. During lunch, the "surf gang" always gets together to boast about our latest episodes and future conquests. These talks really get my blood flowing and always make me look forward to our weekend surfs (as if I'm not already pumped up enough).

One of the funniest topics right now is the longboard maneuver bets with Jimmy (see Downshifting). Since the maneuvers are so difficult (helicopter-360, tube ride and hang ten)--none of which we've ever accomplished before--we decided to add on a couple of easier ones: a floater and a fins-first takeoff-to-180. First one to do a maneuver wins a plate lunch (one for each)!

After our early-morning fiasco at Laniakea (see Pinballed, Part 1), I was ready for some toned-down action. We drove all the way up the coast, looking for a decent spot that wasn't too crowded. Unfortunately, both swell and winds conspired to make for big, warbly conditions.

We eventually settled on Pinballs, the inside break of Waimea Bay. It was looking decent, with a nice takeoff and fair shoulder. At least it was a little smaller than the rest of the coast and had a solid channel. As Jimmy said, "We won't have to worry about the Bay closing out today."

I was so eager to get going that as soon as we parked, I literally ran to the corner of the bay near the rivermouth, jumped in the water, and paddled out. Jimmy and Jerry followed closely behind. The shorebreak was working pretty good, with a few bodyboarders chancing some nice head-high closeouts. But I was focused on riding the point.

Don't be fooled -- Pinballs is not a "Mickey Mouse" wave. Though the ride is usually just a critical takeoff, the spot can kick butt in the power category. I learned this right off the bat with lots of over-the-falls and rough landings.

However, I was dead set on trying hard, especially after last week's frustration (Cold Shoulders) and my early morning miscue (Pinballed, Part 1). I had to go for it!

Surf was about 3-5' (Haw'n) and breaking just off the point. The new west was combining with the old swell, creating a nice wedge to take off on. The rocky edge of the bay looked intimidating, but actually did not come into play at all. And best of all, no one was out (initially, anyway).

After many blown takeoffs, I eventually started getting the hang of the lineup. I'm not really sure what I changed, (Jerry said I was paddling into the waves better) but I was catching and making the waves regularly on my tank.

My best was on a peak that allowed me to get in early. I faded back towards the rocks as it doubled up on the inside. Did a nice bottom turn, then tried a small carve in the hook. Even though I bombed it and went over, it still felt damned good.

Jerry and Jimmy were also enjoying themselves. Jimmy was so cold, he actually wore a fullsuit in the water! Riding backside on his new Surfboards Makaha tanker, he charged some of the west peaks. I think that riding these waves gave him some much-needed confidence. He's got the skills to ride bigger waves; he just needs someone to push him a little.

Jerry caught some decent walls with his bodyboard, but his session was marred by one particular incident. Jerry caught this nice wave on the west bowl. However, he rode it just as the sun started peaking through Waimea Valley. Temporarily blinded, Jerry accidentally cleaned out a surfer in the lineup. Just before impact, Jerr tried bunny-hopping over him, but his shin ended up blasting the guy in the head. The bruddah was visibly angry, but maintained his composure... barely.

Jerry felt so bad that it put a damper on the rest of his session. "Surfing can be a contact sport," I told him; "Sometimes these things happen."

Towards the end of the sesh, I was feeling pretty good with my riding, so I decided to try and cash in on one of our longboard maneuver bets. Jimmy was paddling back from a wave when I flipped my board around. A small, chest-high wave mushed in, and I caught it, fins first. I quickly hopped on, then set the fins as I twisted ever-so slightly. The board smoothly rotated around 180 degrees, and I found myself still on the wave, riding goofy. Yeah! My first ever fins-first takeoff-to-180, right in front of Jimmy!

For the rest of the session, I harped on him, saying how I could already taste the plate lunch--mixed plate, mac salad and two scoops rice! Mmmm!

Eventually, we all paddled in, weary, but stoked. I had finally overcome my bad longboard sesh last week with a solid performance at Pinballs, not to mention an "exhilarating" ride at Laniakea. With all my thrills and spills, it wasn't pretty, but it was still a whole lot of fun. Now if I can only collect on my plate lunch...

Aloha from Paradise,