Twin Sessions -- 3/18/01

Buddy, burning the BHG

Did the predawn patrol thing once again. Conditions were pristine, with clear skies and ultralight winds. The large, dangerous swell from the previous day had subsided substantially to a more manageable 3-5' (Haw'n).

While I was in the water during that solitary 30 minutes, I was laughing to myself, wondering why no one else was out. The surf was tricky, but absolutely beautiful, with nice, spitting barrels to be had given a bit of patience.

There seemed to be two distinct swells: the declining, but still firm west-northwest swell, along with a lingering north that tended to shut down the wall. Because of this, the lineup was somewhat tricky, and you had to choose your peak or face getting plowed.

Although I didn't get any spectacular rides, one wave in particular stood out. Took off on the shoulder on a nice one. As I was taking off left, I looked backwards to get the visuals of the pitching lip. It was just fanning so beautifully that I got a bit mesmerized. I caught myself on the bottom turn, just in time for a nice, hooking wall. The wave opened up and I released my rail, gaining more speed, right into a second section that threw a small tube which I "veranda'ed." Sweet!

Later on, four hungry bodyboarders joined the lineup, followed by a slew of other riders.

That's when I came to the realization that I'm not really a great rider. I could not catch waves in the crowd, and when I did, it was too late, or on the shoulder. The conditions weren't ideal, but it was still humbling.

But that was OK. I didn't have to be the best--as long as I was having fun. That was all that mattered. And that is what I am doing.

Anyway, when I got in at around 8, Buddy still was nowhere to be found. I tried and tried to contact him with my cell, but the coverage is just terrible on the North Shore for my cell company.

I went so far as to walk on the road to see if I could get better coverage. Just then, who should drive up but the Budmaster himself.

With that, I'd like to use Bud's excellent report to explain his great perspective of the second half of the session:

Sunday March 18, 2001 8:15a-10:30a North Shore Avg wave face 4-6 feet Sets wave face 6-7 feet Clear & sunny; Light (side) offshore winds

The one month old future world champ kept mom & dad from sleeping for more than 2 to 3 hours at a stretch, so dad missed the DP with Sponge. Finally hit the road about 7am feeling retro and in need of a jolt (always?) so I popped Pixies' Tromp le Monde into the CD player. Made the usual stop for coffee, bottled water & doughnut at the Wahiawa 7-11.

Driving over the hill I saw decent whitewater on the coast but coming from a weird direction. It was now 7:35 on a Sunday morning; Seeing an almost empty parking at the regular spot my foot never let up on the gas pedal as I flew past. A few minutes later I'm turning makai across from Sunset Elementary School and I spot Sponge standing on the bike path. He has a scowl on his face and a cell phone pressed against his ear (bad reception on the NS).

I drive up... he leans into the window with a big grin (soaking wet from his dawn patrol at Pipe)- "Heyyyyy, I was just trying to call you."

We spend 15 minutes on the beach watching 6 to 11 foot faces at Pipe peel perfectly in the early morning shadow of the mountain... talking with friend Ray and discussing where to surf (for "bad luck Bud" on a borrowed stick, the crowd and guillotine at Pipe is not an option). All the while Tamayo Perry is nabbing the best wave of every set, and does his disappearing act each time.

We decide to check Velzyland (looks great) and just after 8am we're parked in front of Cino's house getting ready to make the walk over. It is a bright sunny day, the water is crystal clear and we score amazingly uncrowded V-land for an hour and a half. We guessed it must have something to do with the previous day of St. Patricks day celebrating. What ever the reason, we immediately tag some pocket rocket reforming double-ups, just reeling and almost hard *not* to get tubed (but you're always aware of the knee deep water that barely covers the reef). If you know Velzyland, you know exactly what I mean.

Mid session I was determined to get a couple pics of Sponge with the disposable. We were consistently in the lineup at the same time but seemed out of synch for photos on this day. Tried, but I could not find any opportunities for shots of the man. Oh well, at least I know he was stoked to have surfed Pipe for almost 2 hours already, the first one out and rushing thick barrels for half an hour before anyone else showed up.

Eventually the crowd started to grow. I was surprised to watch a big, older Hawaiian guy on a bodyboard pull back on more than a few sets that looked fully makeable. I did not recognize him but he was talking to a few of the V-Land regulars, several were friends of mine also. Later, me and Big Hawaiian Guy (BHG) are paddling for a set- a particularly sweet wedge. I was at the peak; He was on the inside with priority. A split second I make the decsion- I'm up and committed to the drop.... of course *this* time he does not pull back.

This wave is a beauty and there's no way I could get out now. BHG calls me off but I'm already standing and the lip is pitching hard. Man, I wanted sooo badly to pull into that barrel. But I knew I was already in deep kim chee and had to get out as quickly as possible. Intentional or not, no matter who you know, stuffing a BHG in the pit, at V-Land, is Not a Good Thing to do. Especially for a skinny white boy. If I rode it out after burning him..... yikes. So after the late drop (forcing him to straighten out) I turned hard off the bottom and try to punch through. To add insult, my board gets sucked over and is tombstoning next to him when I pop out the back. As I reel in my stick, I see his board getting pulled in further over the reef before his head breaks the surface. He comes up maybe 30 feet away, cursing loudly in the impact zone. Shit.

Sponge is paddling back out after witnessing the whole incident and he's looking at me, wincing - "Man, he is pissed!" he says to me. Shit. Hmm, maybe that's my cue to go in. Naahh, I decide to see what happens. When BHG paddles back out I intercept him and start, "hey man, sorry, I didn't mean...." but he puts his palm out to face me, just nods and keeps kicking past. I think he knew I wasn't out to stuff or snake people, and let it slide. Phew.

The crowd swelled with a bunch of new generation slash and burners. The Sugihara kid was ripping, must be nice to be a young surfer and your dad is the founder of T&C. Ran into Cino's son John again (I'd surfed with yesterday out west). His father had been making boards for me since I was a teenager and I knew sons John and Jason since they were young kids living with dad at Maili Pt., way back in the late 70's- early '80's.

I decided to call it a day before pushing my luck any further with brother Rich's board and BHGs. On my second to last wave I back doored a sweet head high barrel, hollow and dry... There must have been 5 people paddling in the way but I went for it. Vivid memory of looking out at Sponge as I negotiated the tube and surfers.... a (bodyboarder) girl's flippered feet hanging out from the wall in front of me as she ducked through the tube... a couple seconds later I rode out on to the shoulder with a big smile.

Good surfing to you,

Of course, yours truly (aka Sponge) was there to catch all the action on film, including the drop-in on the BHG and the ensuing barrel.

The drop-in looked very blatant from an outsider's perspective. But as Buddy mentioned, you have to take history into consideration when dealing with a crowded lineup. I was worried about the potential for a bad situation, but Buddy did the noble thing and offered an apology. Everything was cool.

Regarding the tube ride, it was pure magic to watch. Buddy was slotted so deeply and had to weave through all kinds of people in his path. It was cool watching the hand-jive projection of his forearm and his pumping in the barrel, all the while with people paddling between us, ducking the wave. He came out clean and dry.

Two distinctly different sessions. Both great in its own way.

Jack the Ripper, doing what he does best

Tamayo Perry, getting deep

Aloha from Paradise,