Tactics -- 9/29/98

What's Buddy going to do for the next 30 seconds of his life?

After a not-quite-satisfying session on Sunday, I was rarin' to go out again. Since I wasn't going to be able to surf on the coming weekend, I decided to do another of my pre-work dawn patrols.

It just so happened that a late-season south swell was forecast to pulse in late-Monday/early-Tuesday. By Monday afternoon, we were getting "all kine" reports of solid four foot (Haw'n) Town. On it!

Once again, Buddy and I dawned it, this time to Q-Tips. Buddy's brother Rich had surfed there that Monday eve and said that it was building and should be good for us. We were hyped for some serious wave action.

Pulling into the parking lot, we were stoked to see lots of whitewater on the horizon, with gentle offshores buffeting the waves. We quickly prepped and started paddling out, lucky to catch a nice lull through the closeout area.

Unfortunately , the surf wasn't as big or as consistent as we thought. That lull was not the exception, but actually the rule. Still, a couple of feet overhead on the sets was nothing to sneeze at. The walls changed from slow sections to quick, down-the-line runs, so you had to really read the wave well to maximize your ride.

Deciding to catch the smaller ones, I got off to a decent start, snagging lots of nice, head-high waves, pretty much just trimming on my tank. Buddy waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally, after over a half hour, he hit his stride, catching several really long ones all in a row. His best was probably his first wave. I had just kicked out of an average first wave of the set, so I had a front row seat for all the action.

As is customary for both of us when we surf, I pulled out my water camera in hopes of catching Buddy in action while I paddled back out. Well, I was in the impact zone, fumbling for my camera, when he took off the wave. I looked up and saw Buddy just carving off the face, throwing this beautiful fan. Desperately I tried getting the camera ready to shoot, but couldn't turn the darned thing on. Once again I glanced up, just in time to see Buddy emerging from a rare tube, maybe ten feet away from me. Arghh!

As the morning progressed, the waves started getting smaller and came in less frequently. This was coupled with a substantial increase in the crowd--which ballooned to 12 people--unusual for this hard to reach lineup.

While waiting for waves amongst the crowd, my thoughts turned to competition. Knowing that Buddy has an extensive contest background, I asked him if he still used positioning strategies in the lineup.

He acknowledged that it was a big part of successful competition, though he never really had to jockey hard since the year or so that he's been back surfing. However, he said that there is a dominant position to be in, which is sitting inside and closer to the curl of your competitor. Using standard contest rules, this allows the flexibility to catch most anything while barring the guy sitting outside from taking off lest he get an interference.

Comparing it to my experiences, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Not even fifteen minutes after we talked, guess what happened? I decided to sit deepest and furthest outside at the peak. This nonlocal guy paddled out and sat well inside of me, maybe just a tad closer to the curl. A good set reared up, and I was on it. Stroking for the wave, the guy was right in my line. Assuming that the lineup was pretty mellow, I stupidly decided to paddle around the guy, more towards the shoulder. Wrong move!

As soon as I gave away my line, the punk swung around and went for the same wave. He then had the inside track and took off deeper than me. I was pissed! Pissed at him for snaking me, and pissed at myself for allowing it to happen. Just goes to show that you can't automatically assume everyone is playing by the same set of rules.

That one little exchange really frustrated me for the rest of the session. But what angered me even more was another episode where someone else paddled around me just as a set came through. Fark! I guess after surfing with my crew for so long, I'd forgotten that it's dog-eat-dog out there in the real world. I guess I better hone my tactical skills before the North Shore season hits full stride.

By the time we had to leave, the surf had dwindled to virtually nothing. I was fortunate to catch a decent last wave--a nice, down the line wall with some semblance of a tube skirting my butt. Had to chase off three others for it, but it was a nice way to end my session.

Buddy, on the other hand, was choked so badly that he actually waited a half hour for a last wave that never came. Ended up paddling in.

Later at work, I was still aglow from the morning session. However, no matter how much endorphins my body put out, I was still bothered by those two little incidents. Next time, there will be no more tactical errors; next time, I'm playing for keeps.

Neal, trying to snap

Tight shot of the Budster

Got the shot, then got donuts

Aloha from Paradise,