SURF OBSERVATIONS
Phantom Swell -- 4/30/99


Here's Buddy racing down the line, as viewed from Neal's Tank-cam

Kim Gennaula, the weather reporter for KGMB TV news, was calling for a "phantom swell" to hit the North Shore sometime Thursday or Friday. Meteorologist Pat Caldwell confirmed this, saying that a small wind event had enough fetch to stir up some action.

After our last sesh, I felt a little short-changed, so I decided to do a little PT (physical training) on Friday morn before the daily grind. Work was a little slow for Buddy, so he was all over it.

The surf and buoy reports for Thursday were dismal, but we were dead-set on at least getting wet. Sometime in the middle of the night (10 PM, to be exact), buoy #1 started showing a decent swell coming at 6 feet, 13 seconds. A glimmer of hope. But would it arrive before we left?

I got to Laniakea early at 5:30 AM and saw... ripples. Conditions were smooth as silk with no wind, but there also werenít any waves to speak of. After dialing up Buddy, I quickly ran over to Ehukai, and found the waves lapping on the beach. Damn.

Zoomed back to Laniakea, then met up with Bud. Despite the lack of waves, we decided to hit it anyway.

Surf was waist-to-chest, with some head-high sets. The direction seemed to indicate that the swell had a more westerly component than expected.

As usual we made the most of the situation. Buddy was actually ripping up the small stuff, snagging some long rides, doing lots of rail-to-rail turns and getting in some solid carves.

I was trying hard. Had the tank again and tried to get used to the new ride. I was being the "stylemaster", as Buddy put it, walking the plank and posing.

For the first time in a long, long time, I actually only wore boardshorts, rather than my standard uniform of neoprene "biker shorts" and accompanying polypro rashguard. I like to use the rashguard out of convenience to tuck my camera away, and out of vanity to keep my love handles in place.

As for rides, well, I got a few fun ones, including one really short, but bowly right where I could hear some gurgling behind me. Just being in the hook is nice.

Later on, it got surprisingly crowded, with a bunch of people at Laniís, Holtons and (of course) Chunís. We again saw Team Soul, a group of youngish surfers who exclusively rode vintage boards (looked like from the 70ís). Looking at the nearly full parking lot, Buddy said, "It feels like a Saturday." Couldnít agree with him more.

After almost three hours, I finally had to hit it to work. Despite the lack of waves, we still had fun. I guess it really was a phantom swell. Like some apparitions, it never really materialized.

Epilogue: Rather than leave the board in my car to bake in the hot sun, I decided to bring it into the office for safekeeping. As I was fumbling into the building with this beast of a board, my coworkers, who were in a meeting I was also supposed to attend, started ragging on me. Without skipping a beat, I replied, "Waitaminute, I thought this was a BOARD meeting!"

Not funny? Well, I guess you just had to be there. :-/

Aloha from Paradise,
stickman


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