Wash-Thru -- 12/12/99

From the sidelines at Pipe

A big swell was again was forecast for the weekend, but a Westside jaunt by Makani and Buddy on Saturday proved fruitless. In the eve, buoy #1 was maintaining at 11 feet, 17 seconds. The Country was the call for Sunday.

Got out there real early. Lani's looked junky in the darkness, so I headed to Ehukai Beach Park. They were holding the Pipe Masters there, but I just wanted to get a feel for the swell. Justin arrived soon after. It looked pretty small in the darkness, but boy was I wrong.

Talked story with Warren Ho'ohuli and Randy Rarick--they said it was going off the day before with 8-12 foot (Haw'n) mackers under rainy skies.

Warren gave me the scoops on Derek Ho's injury. Apparently, he tagged the reef with his head. Wasn't too bad, but he subsequently got caught inside and his leash somehow snagged on the reef. Derek was underwater, with just his hand waving frantically. The jetski water patrol immediately charged towards him, abandoned his ski in the raging surf and dove under, freeing his leg. Had to go to the hospital due to excessive water in his lungs. The whole episode shook up the contestant field big time.

Anyway, after talking story, I decided to jump in the water before the contest with the hope of catching a few before the pre-contest crowd arrived en force.

I was still putting on my bodyboarding gear in the darkness when I saw some crazy sponger pulling into this *solid* barrel, the beach rumbling under me. Damn! It was bigger than I thought. Of course, I went for it, missed the crease a bit and got swept to Ehukai.

The surf was so nice! Pipeline has a power unlike any other break on the North Shore. The lip was just guillotine-like, making an odd, higher-than-normal frequency *thwap* when it hit the trough.

I only caught a few really small ones, getting a decent closeout barrel on one. However, I was soon overwhelmed by the deluge of surfers and bodyboarders flooding the lineup. Dropping a few names: surfers--Occy, Damien Hardman, Taylor Knox and bodyboarders--Andre Botha, Spencer Skipper. I was like *way* out of my league and thought I should just paddle in with my tail between my legs.

Instead, I took the opportunity to take a few shots with my disposable Fuji camera. It was extremely overcast in the early morning light, so I doubt the pics will be any good. However, for the record let me say that the performances were awesome. For these guys, 6-8' (Haw'n) was minors. I was like, "Wow!"

Eventually, I decided to paddle in, knowing that our real session was still to come. Walking up to the park, I found that Buddy had caught up with Justin. The three of us decided to head up the coast for some more "reasonable" action.

We eventually found ourselves at Spot-X, a well-known, heavily localized spot. No one was out and it looked manageable. Typically, the surf breaks on the outside, then reforms on the inside, providing some hollow rights and rippable lefts. At size, the waves just wash right on through in a formless mass. Since the swell was supposed to be on the decline, we figured conditions would optimize as time went on.

Just before hitting the water, we contacted Makani, who was supposed to join us. Makani had hooked up with another friend and was about to surf a spot well to the west of us. Said it was 5' (Haw'n) and just reeling these hollow lefts. We wished him well, then charged Spot-X.

By the time we got out, there were eight people in the lineup. Guess the empty setup was enticing to everyone. There were some nice ones to be had, but good selection was the key to success. The current was hideous--you could not stop paddling throughout the session. And the wash-thru's were tiring--we constantly were witness to these big outside peaks breaking on the outer reef, then rolling all the way in.

Justin charged the lineup despite not having a leash (I brought a spare, but he uses a special ankle leash for his sponge). He sat outside and charged the big ones, but he made no mention of catching any great rides. Saw him nab a few sets, going all the way into the inside bowl.

Buddy was back in the water for the first time since his ankle slicing, so you know that he was jonesing for surf. Unfortunately, he never got into a good rhythm, and was frustrated (like most of us) at the mixed conditions. Still caught some good ones with precarious takeoffs into concaving sections.

I myself was in poor form, a little flustered from the highly aerobic conditions. It was hard choosing good waves, and I don't think I ever got one of those legendary righthanders. However, I did gorge myself on the down-the-line lefts, which were not too popular because of the challenging paddle-out (and because it usually is inferior to the rights).

Eventually, some extra-aggro guys came out. After three hours of mayhem, it was time to leave anyway. By then, both my thighs had seized slightly with cramps from the session. Pau hana time.

Reflecting back on the day, it wasn't all that bad. There were opportunities for all of us to get epic rides. This time it just didn't come together. At the very least, we all got a killer workout that Richard Simmons would have been proud of.

Sometimes you get good sessions, sometimes you get bad sessions. In the end, it's all a wash.

Aloha from Paradise,