SURF OBSERVATIONS
My Yellow Sunset Gun -- 5/31/99


Someone else on a yellow Sunset gun.
Check out Buddy's story and photos.

Lost Board

"Yellow and green." That was the response I got from my little daughter when I asked her what colors my new bodyboard should be. That was back in December when I placed the order for the board.

After months of waiting, I finally decided to call Custom X to find out the order status (kooky, non-pro riders canít be demanding). Come to find out that it was shipped way back in February. The reason why I never got it was because it accidentally went to the local rep.

Fortunately, I knew the guy from my old comp days, so in no time flat I had the board in hand. And boy, was it a sweet board. It was shaped exactly as I had requested: short, thin, narrow, light, with my signature "M" tail. Couldnít wait to give it a try.

Bad Luck

For some reason, that lost board prelude gave me a funny feeling about the board. Was it jinxed? I dunno.

I went through my regular process of putting on my special leash plug. A while back, I bought a whole bunch of these hard-to-find plugs, and I knew I had one more left in my possession. Come to find out, the box was empty--no more! Of course, I called the local shops, only to find that no one carried them anymore.

Decided to use the regular leash plug and seal it with this epoxy-like glue. After loading the goop all over, I started twisting the plug in when, "Pop!" It broke! Damn. There was glue everywhere and I was left with a gaping hole in my board.

Fortunately, after rummaging through my junk, I found an old spare plug, and managed to finish the job without incident. Just hoped that the hole got sealed well enough to prevent water from getting in.

Completed the job just in time too. A very unseasonal northwest swell was expected to hit the islands on the weekend, perfect for my Sunday sesh, and I was all fired up for it.

However when Saturday came, buoys started pinging, but the swell was nowhere to be seen. What the... ? I had to make a huge command decision and defer my sesh for one day, opting for a Memorial Day go-out. Hoped I made the right call.

Sunday came and it was still flat-to-one. At 10 feet, 14 seconds, the buoys just didnít jive with the surf report. I was starting to worry that weíd be skunked altogether. That night I had a restless sleep.

Pre-Sunset

Hit the road well before sunrise. When I got to Laniakea, I was fully bummed to find chest-high surf lapping over the reef. Guess we were too far into summer for this swell to materialize.

Pushed on to Ehukai Beach Park and found chest-high surf on the sandbars. There was a small pool of water fronting the Pipeline area, a telltale sign that the surf had been up overnight. Had we already missed the swell peak? Oh no!

In exasperation, I went to Sunset Beach in a last-ditch effort to find waves. Sometimes, depending on the swell direction, itís bigger up the coast. Driving into the parking lot, I was stoked to see an empty lineup with overhead waves peeling in. Yeah!

I jumped in ahead of Buddy and Rich, and raced to the lineup--it was 5:30 AM.

Paumalu

Unfortunately, by the time I got out there were already eight people ahead of me. Everyone was patiently waiting for this last gasp North Shore swell, and was on it the moment it showed.

The surf was really nice in the morning, in the 3-5í Hawín range (letís just say well-overhead). Light offshores, clear skies and a setting full moon completed the beautiful ambiance.

The crowd was moderate, but pretty amicable. Iím not a Sunset regular, so I thought of the place as having grumpy old men on big guns. There were actually all kinds out: a preteen kid, some fifty year olds, one wahine and even a bodyboarder (me!). I talked story with a couple of guys, saved one dude from a long swim for his leashless board, and cheered on most of the crowd.

Noticed that a lot of the old timers rode big yellow pintail guns. Man, I just fit right in with my 42" yellow "M"-tail bodyboard!

Of course, things werenít all hunky dory. On my first wave, I got caught inside and got my fin blasted off my foot. I was just able to grab the fin tethers with my toetips as the next wave bopped me. Had to paddle all the way around to get back out.

Then, some guys started to take the liberty of burning the lone bodyboarder. On one in particular, I was in perfect position for a set wave when this longboarder on the shoulder snaked me. Didnít phase me too much, though--if he canít take off deeper than me on my sponge, he must be a wimp.

But I got more than my share of good rides. I was again hovering outside and more towards the point, favoring the peak that broke across the reef. Got a couple of nice verandas (not tubes), along with some good carving walls. Itís a really fun wave--not too conducive to bodyboarding, but still rippable.

It was getting a bit too crowded for my taste, so I started looking elsewhere.

Reef Dance

Finally, I decided to join Buddy and Rich, who had paddled straight out to Backyards. I figured Iíd just catch a left on the point at Sunset to save some time. Big mistake!

Took off a little bit late on a "quite-a-bit-overhead" set. Could not make it around the section and had to straighten out. Of course, the reef in front was so shallow, it started to draw water off of the shelf. Omigod!

Miraculously, I found a line that got me through with just the lightest of reef touches (bodyboards are great--no more skegs). The scariest part was when the whitewater caught up with me--I thought Iíd be bowled over and dragged. Managed to maintain an upright position, and eventually settled into calm waters.

Like a dummy, I paddled straight back out, at times clawing over coral heads. Somehow, I found a small channel and managed to punch through on a lull. From there I was on my way to Backyards.

Jockeying

Rich and Bud had been going at it for some time by then. The crowd was pretty big by Backyards standards, and we spent the better part of the remaining session jockeying with everyone. Rich was having an especially frustrating session, not being able to get into a good rhythm. Since he had just gotten back from a month-long trip, he was all the more jonesing for some good rides.

Eventually, he snagged some good ones on his backhand. Got the photographic evidence to prove it too!

Buddy, who doesnít seem to get phased by crowds, was on fire. He was content to sit inside and snag these juicy pits. Eventually, he found a little break all by his lonesome, dubbed the Budbowl, and got continuously barreled off his nut. Saw one critical ride in which he threw a hard stall right in the pit, then proceeded to make it through three sections.

Me, I took it easy at first, having expended a lot of energy at Sunset. I picked off a few good ones, but was content to cruise the lineup, taking the odd picture here and there.

What really got me going again wasnít the waves, but the competition. After successfully jockeying for one of the bigger sets, I was blatantly dropped in on by a surfer. I ate his spray and had to pull through the tube, while he rode 40 yards further, then sat far away on another peak. Pissed me off big time, but I knew arguing about it would only get me more riled up. So I sulked.

Finis

Being an angry man in the lineup did not help my surfing. I got flustered over every little thing. And since I didnít have 100% of my energy, I couldnít power into waves as usual. The ones I did manage to scrape into, I was either on the shoulder with someone deeper or dropped in on. Frustrating!

I finally got wise and followed Buddy to his little spot. Caught one wicked bowl and was immediately barreled forever in this mini tube. Itís amazing how a single wave can turn frustration into bliss.

Unfortunately, by that time it was time to hit it home. Paddled to the Sunset lineup with Rich, intending on getting a small one to shore. Crowd was bigger and much more intense. I found a nice one on the point, but was promptly dropped in on by a surfer. By then, I was over the reef, so I just proned it in.

On my way in, I passed an ownerless surfboard floating over the reef. Suddenly, I realized that it was the same board that nearly aced me a few seconds ago.

For a moment I actually thought Iíd be a nice guy and paddle it back out to the owner, but then caught myself. Grrr! Didnít do anything to the board--not my style--just left it where it was, floating on the inside.

I like to think that there is parity in life. Sometimes it just takes a while to have the scales balance out. Let him swim.

Exited the water at 10 AM. It was a marathon 4.5 hour session for me. That new board wasn't jinxed at all--in fact, it worked like a charm. From now on, I'm calling it my yellow sunset gun!

Epilogue

A few days after the session, I saw the North Shore legend, Peter Cole. After introducing myself, I told him that I saw him on my way out from Sunset on that Memorial Day.

He relived his session for me, explaining: how the swell direction had a strong west and threw the peak into the channel, how the point was fast and shut down, how he got consistently dropped in on, and had to swim for his board several times.

It was so frustrating for him, that he decided that he just wanted one good wave in. He ended up staying out for 8.5 hours, and even then, was forced to catch a junk one in.

Maybe I'll have to rethink my views on parity in life. Sometimes life is just not fair.

Aloha from Paradise,
stickman


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