Jumping Back In -- 6/27/98

Buddy, making the most of it

The weekend surf wasn't looking all that great. No groundswells on the horizon, and strong winds were in the forecast. Tradewind swell action would have to do.

One cool thing was that I was going to hook up with fellow alt.surfing newsgroup lurker Bud. Bud is a dawn patroller like myself, so my early morning beachmobile express was not a problem for him. We decided to check out a semi-secret spot (okay, Pyramid Rock) on the east side that would hopefully pick up the windswell.

When he was younger, Bud was the consummate surf competitor, blazing in the local amateur contests. However by the early 80's, he sort of fell out of the scene altogether. About a year ago, Bud was dragged back into it by a friend, and has never looked back. It's like the fire of stoke has been rekindled, burning stronger than ever.

We got to the beach just before daybreak. Stepping out of the car to get a better look at the surf, we were greeted with a faceful of warm seabreeze. It looked like there was some size, but the wind was blowing straight onshore, slashing up the waves. There was somewhat of a lineup where the waves semi-consistently rolled in, so we decided to just "chance 'um". At least we had it to ourselves.

Once in the water, we found that there was indeed some good ones to work with. Waves were about head-high, some bigger. There were a few nice walls, and you could ride it a long way into the shorebreak if you cut back a lot (a good contest wave). The strong rip pulling us out and to the point kept us honest.

No stranger to the place, Bud took to the rough conditions well. He proceeded to wait for the cleaner ones and took off with precision, favoring the rights (his forehand). Bud's style was more old-school--no skatey moves--just strong turns and good positioning. Growing up on the Westside with the Keaulanas and Ferrimans molded his surfing accordingly.

Bud had brought two surfboards and he generously lent me one just for kicks (a tiny 6' 2"!). Now, I do longboard quite frequently, but when it comes to these modern shortboards, well, lets just say that nobody will mistake me for Kelly Slater.

One word described my surfing: flailing! I had a hard time paddling into the waves, and on the odd occasion that I did, I usually stepped on the leash and fell a few seconds later. It was pretty pathetic.

All the while, I wondered what Bud was thinking. After all my posturing on the newsgroup, we hook up and he finds that I'm the living embodiment of Wilbur Kookmeyer. And I was floundering on and endangering his board, no less.

After over an hour of suffering, I finally gave in and switched to my bodyboard. Jumping back in, I absolutely could not believe how much easier it was to catch and ride waves. Maybe it was my familiarity that made the difference so marked, maybe the extra thrust from kicking helped. In any case, I was genuinely surprised. Though I've always respected shortboard riders, my episode gave me even more appreciation for their skill.

Soon after grabbing my sponge, I proceeded to snag and make an extremely rare and beautiful cylinder (with Bud sitting right in the channel). Returned a little bit of my self-respect.

As the sun rose straight out on the horizon, the pitching lips were backlit into an emerald green hue. Despite the heavy chop, there were still fleeting moments of visual perfection as we duckdove through some shimmering walls. Looking at the waves from shore, I don't think many people would think it was worth paddling out. But we knew better.

We rode for almost four hours, completely alone in the lineup. One other guy drove by, but he ended up surfing far down the beach from us. We were actually waiting for Pat Caldwell, an oceanographer with the NOAA, to join us--he puts out the best Oahu surf forecast. Found out later that Pat saw a small south on the buoys, and decided to windsurf Diamond Head instead--he woke up late anyway. :-)

But Bud and I weren't complaining. We got some fun stuff to ourselves and made the most of it. In fact, we were already planning our next assaults on some uncharted territories. Welcome back, Bud!

P.S. Here's Bud's own session report.

Aloha from Paradise,