"It Could Have Been Worse" -- 1/7/01

Makani, getting it good

It was the day before the start of the waiting period of the Mike Stewart International Pipeline Pro and I had this intense urge to shoot some photos, especially some bodyboarding at Pipeline.

Buddy and Makani were going to hit it early, so I decided to meet up with them, shoot for a little while, then head over to Pipeline to capture some sponge action.

We met at Ehukai Beach Park to survey the situation. Winds were light variables with not a cloud in the sky. The air was a bit chilly in the early morn. The expected swell rise didn't really show, but it was easily double-overhead at times.

Because of the intense crowd at Pipeline, Makani and Buddy opted to check out the Pupukea/Gas Chambers/Rocky Point area, which looked pretty good and was empty. So we grabbed our gear and trudged over to Pupukea.

Walking with crutches through soft sands sucks, but I was motivated to shoot my bros, as I've promised many times.

Another friend, bodyboarder Ray Ginto, decided to join us down the beach. Nice to see the old futs still charging.

Watching the boys paddle out, I was surprised to see the strong current pull them left, then right, as some decent sets bombed in. Tricky conditions to say the least.

On one of his first waves, Buddy took off on a steep one, then worked it inside over the sandbar. He was seemingly casually taking a top-turn when the board bogged, the wave jacked, and he free-fell maybe eight feet right into the shallow trough. Man, that came out of nowhere! (Missed the photo op.)

Makani was favoring the lefts early on, charging some nice ones, getting closed out on some not-so-nice ones. Still, I know he was loving it.

Ray took a little bit of time to figure out the place, then took off on some good ones. Buddy got a killer shot of him dropping in on a glassy pit.

At around 8:30, I excused myself to Pipeline to get my fix of shooting bodyboarders at Pipeline. After limping my way back, I talked story to some friends (Chep, Nick, and Skip) at the Park, then settled in for picture taking at the corner of the park, facing Pipe.

The surf was really clean, but pushing in more from the north. This was evident by the large paparazzi at the Off-the-Wall right of way to the beach. I was too lazy and too tired to head down there, even though I knew I would get better pics from that angle (looking into the Backdoor pit).

As good as the waves were, I knew that it wasn't nearly as good as the stellar string of swells we got in December. However, it was pretty phenomenal and I guess I should've counted my blessings. It could have been worse.

Despite not getting the best angle for the predominant rights, I did manage a few good shots. Burned off the roll (36) while talking story with Ray, who had come in from Pupukea, satisfied with a solid session.

Watching the great waves reel off over and over again made me feel angry about my misfortune. I think sitting on the beach was more tortuous than staying at home--it was like teasing a starving man with food right in front of his face. I really started feeling sorry for myself.

By the time I had to leave, the wind had turned onshore, and conditions were getting smaller. Stewie, who I was hoping to talk with, didn't get to the beach in time, so I decided to bail.

On my way back to my car, I noticed a kid in a wheelchair that had been pushed into position by his mother an hour earlier. It looked like he had a leg injury similar to mine, so I decided to talk story with him.

Found out that he had been in an automobile accident a couple of month prior. Broke both legs and tore up one foot really bad. He looked longingly, at the surf with a bit of painful anguish. The kid was kinda hinting that because of the extent of his injuries, he might never get back into bodyboarding.

I pondered the thought, then told him to keep his chin up, take small steps and that both he and I would eventually find our way back in the water.

Walking somberly back to my car, the only thing I could think was that old saying, "It could have been worse." Suddenly, I felt really fortunate about the state of my health, and somewhat embarrassed about my earlier frustrations.

From now on, I won't complain; I'll just be grateful. Aloha...

The Photos:

    Buddy, surprised on the paddle out.

    Makani having fun backside.

    Makani top-turning on the inside.

    Buddy going weightless.

    Buddy, waiting to stab his bottom turn.

    Makani pulls into a meaty one.

    Makani comes into the sunlight.

    Buddy drops in big.

    Ray on his first wave.

    Stalling for a Backdoor barrel.

    Pipeline wasn't perfect, but still...

    Same rider, seemingly same wave as #10.

    Party Backdoor wave

    Deep tubeage

    Crowd Reality

    Small tube

    Splitting the peak #1

    Splitting the peak #2

    Bonga stalls for the Backdoor barrel.

    Tweaking a big invert

    Small but intense Backdoor barrel

    Mike Stewart--still ripping after all these years.

Aloha from Paradise,