Ohayo Gozaimasu (Good Morning) -- 5/30/98

The local at the Bowl

Last year, I met a surfer from Japan named Kohei. During the course of that summer, we connected for several fun sessions. Well, Kohei was back in town for a few days, so we hooked up for a weekend dawn patrol.

Despite good surf all week, Saturday proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, with small conditions prevailing everywhere. Kohei wanted to catch some shorebreak action, but when we got to Sandy Beach, we saw dismally flat conditions in the predawn light. So we ended up driving all the way back to Ala Moana Bowls, which was literally a stone's throw away from Kohei's temporary residence.

By the time we got out, there already was a medium-sized crowd riding the entire gamut of wave riding vehicles (sponges to tanks). Despite the inconsistent, 1-3' surf, the crowd was pretty amiable, especially considering that Bowls is one of the most competitive spots on Oahu. I guess everyone was surfed out from the good waves of the previous days.

I was fortunate enough to recognize (and be recognized by) several of the regulars, which always makes for a more comfortable session. Having worked the amateur surf scene has made the general surfing community so much more accessible.

Kohei had a little harder time of it in the lineup, though. Perhaps it was because he had hadn't surfed in about six months! Damn! I'd have some major withdrawals after a "long winter" like that.

However, Kohei did have some serious surf plans up his sleeve. He recently graduated from college and was taking some well-deserved down time to surf. After a couple weeks on Oahu, he was planning a two-month surf trip to Samoa and Tonga--the lucky bastard! Then, he'll have to hunker down, find a job and do the nine-to-five like the rest of us. But until then, he's going to surf his brains silly.

No exceptional rides to speak of that day. Some long left trims, a few attempted flips. The good thing about Bowls is that even with a small swell, it has enough energy to throw nicely. At least we had something to play with.

Afterwards, we went back up to Kohei and girlfriend Kiko's place where they showed me some stills of a trip they took to Baja and an insane video of typhoon surf in Japan. The funniest thing was that I knew one of the surfers in his video--a local boy who is doing the JPSA tour (again, one of my surf contest acquaintances).

In a lot of ways, I envy Kohei's surf-tripping lifestyle. But then again, living in Hawaii, and having the opportunity to surf abroad, I know that I am the fortunate one.

Sayoonara from Paradise,