Old School -- 10/31/98

A little messy, but fun!

"Why don’t you go surfing today too?" said my loving wife.

I was shocked! I usually settle for one session a week, and I had already told her that Sunday would be it. However, wifey knew that a friend was in town, so she kindly asked if I wanted to go. Being the good husband that I am, I humbly said, "OK!"

Reuben Balmores, a mutual friend of Makani and me, was here for the Xcel Pro surf contest, and we were hoping to hook up with him. Miraculously, I found a great parking spot right on Sunset Beach at noon. Moreover, within a few minutes of my arrival I found the two of them cruising on the beach talking story.

Reuben is a low-keyed Kauai boy who just rips. He’s good enough to have made it all the way to the finals of the Xcel before. This year he got to Round 3, but was ousted by Sunset veteran (and four-time Xcel champ) Michael Ho. No shame.

It was so nice talking story with guys who are into both the pro contest scene and the Kauai surf scene. Although he’d rather not let it be known, Reuben has been doing great things for the local surfing community in his own humble way. Enuf said.

Reuben had to leave early, so we told him we’d keep in touch. Makani and I both wanted to get wet at Pipeline, but Makani wanted to watch some other Kauai boys who were in the upcoming heats. So Makan’s cruised a little longer while I went ahead to scope out the action at Pipe.

I made my rounds with the judges, then zoomed over to Ehukai Beach Park. After parking my car, I chanced upon some bodyboarding pros who had just exited the water. My old friend Nelz Vellocido was amongst them, and he introduced me to the young crew. So funny, what he said, "Brah, this guy [me] is old, old school; we used to compete back in the old HSF days."

I laughed to myself so hard! Yep, I am old school. Even "semi-old school" Nelz wouldn’t remember the aku belly 360 and double-dropknee style we used to do. But I’m still out there--gramps on a sponge--still trying hard.

I eventually paddled out to a very familiar lineup of friends, most notable of which was my sponge buddy Joel Leo (still four years my junior). We traded war stories and got up to date on each other, while jockeying in the fairly crowded lineup.

The surf had come way down from the morning’s 6-8’+ (Haw’n) size, and the trades had picked up a bit. But there still were a few five foot sets coming through.

Joel worked the crowd well, catching some good set waves while weaving through the zoo. He was bothered by the presence of someone else though. Joel Tudor, the child prodigy longboarder, was also out riding this archaic, small pintail. A lot of people were calling and yelling out "Joel!", and I imagine it got a bit confusing for the both of them.

I don’t do well in heavy crowds, so after a few small ones, I headed for Off the Wall. It was kinda sketch, with lots of closeouts and rip, but looked doable. At least no one else was out.

I immediately took off on some meaty ones, just pulling in on my bodyboard. My rides were good, but blurred out in my memory banks--like they all happened too fast for me to frame grab in my mind. Most were the same: skip down the face going right, hop down a double-up section, then pull in heading straight for the foamball. I was super fortunate to have not gotten caught inside on the paddles back out. It was truly invigorating rides, punctuated in the ends by some light body slamming.

Afterwards, I headed back to Pipe, where I "spocked" some good Backdoor waves. Makani was finally out on his 7’0", scoring some good rides.

Man, I thought Makani was an open-faced wizard, but he actually is a better tube rider! The "buggah" snagged one mean one that I could hear the gallery hooting for from afar.

I kooked in the crowd, becoming just another buoy in the water. Eventually, the crowd got kinda aggro, with this well-known surfer-artist (who rides 5-fin boards) blatantly dropping in on a local on this sweet Backdoor wave. The ensuing yelling match told me it was time to leave.

Anyway, I was a little tired and still had to prep for my daughter’s Halloween trick-or-treating. Guess my old school body is catching up with me.

Aloha from Paradise,