Mean Peaks -- 10/19/99

Buddy, on a mean peak
Also, check out Buddy's story and photos

The midnight buoy reading clocked in at 11 feet, 13 seconds. A big one was finally on the way. Coincidentally (or was it?), I was planning to meet up with some contractors in the morn, then head out to the Country with Buddy for a taste of some North Shore juice.

Running alongside the swell, unfortunately, was an accompanying weather system that brought a deluge of rain over the island. But we weren’t about to let a little bit of wetness deny us of our inalienable rights.

Through the windshield with wipers set to high, we saw lots of stalls and accidents on the side of the road. Still, we made decent time out to the Country using Buddy’s solid Toy truck.

Laniakea was looking big, fairly lined-up, with not a soul in the water. I asked Buddy to indulge my curiousity and check the upside just in case better conditions prevailed. Pipe was throwing, but had no real wall to work with. Sunset was sectiony and didn’t look all that hot. Lani’s was the call.

Walking to the beach, we were greeted with a chilling wind/rain combo. I was literally shivering even with my polypropylene jersey. Buddy was casual as usual with just a pair of trunks. Fortunately, the ocean felt like bathwater in comparison, making temperature a nonissue from then on.

The turbulent water seemed to be causing a bit of trouble for the marine life. A whole bunch of turtles lolled in the shorebreak, apparently uneasy with the outside conditions. Was this a sign?

The paddle out was relatively uneventful. We took a wide berth around the west side channel, and easily made it out. That didn’t mean there wasn’t surf to speak of. It was rocking on the outside, with sets way over double-overhead (I’d estimate about 6-8’+ Haw’n). The winds were a firm side-offshore as rain pelted the water surface, alternately heavy at times.

Paddling through the second peak, I found myself in prime position to snag a beauty. Took a nice drop and worked a big wall that had huge warps (probably because of the relatively short period swell). My bodyboard, "My Yellow Sunset Gun", handled quite well. Did this several times, getting real lucky on the paddle outs. The swell had much more west than we’d have liked, many times closing out the walling rights--but I got through unscathed.

Suddenly, I found myself alone in the maelstrom. Where did Buddy go? I hadn’t seen him catch one, and started worrying--not about his big wave prowess, but of the real possibility of him having gotten caught inside and losing his stick.

I stayed in the channel for quite a while, scanning the inside for any sign of where he could be, all the while dodging a few big "bullets". A couple of longboarders paddled out to the inside break, but they were woefully underskilled (not an arrogant observation--just an honest one) and went in soon after.

On a lark, I glanced up the coast towards Sunset, and who do I see but Buddy, at the outside peak of Laniakea, halfway to Holton’s. He was just a tiny speck out there in these mountains of swell. I was relieved that he was OK--should have known better.

Despite being on his 6' 4" shortboard, Buddy was a hellman, taking off on these massive peaks. Because he was so undergunned, he was forced to sit in the pit, and throw himself into some critically late takeoffs just to get into the waves. On more than one occasion, he had to wait for that little wedge on the crest of the wave to give him the holeshot just to take the drop.

This risky ‘tude paid off with some big walls that he took apart. Even made a few all the way through. However, it did not go without incident. For more times than he’d like to remember, Buddy found himself way too far inside, taking a couple of mondo sets on the noggin’ while stretching his light comp leash to its extreme.

I’ll never forget paddling over some of the sets, looking back (or actually down) at Buddy, while he scratched impossibly to get through the closing peaks. It was awe-inspiring.

I followed him out to the main peak and tasted some of the intensity out there. As time went by, I soon became more and more gun-shy on the takeoffs. I think absorbing all the power got me thinking about the consequences, and subsequently I lost a bit of nerve. Maybe it was because the waves seemed to get a little bigger and more menacing. It was probably a combo of the two.

After two hours all by our lonesome, I shamelessly admitted to Buddy that I wasn’t feeling all that comfortable anymore, and would soon catch one in. Buddy had had enough too, so we found our way in soon thereafter.

Exhilarating! Even though it wasn’t perfect, it sure did charge our adrenaline level. The ocean and weather was dynamic, and felt almost angry. But it allowed us to play, if only for a little while.

More pics:

Aloha from Paradise,