The Nation ‘with’ Ken -- 7/29/01

Mr. Bradshaw doesn't have to be towed

The south swell had all but disappeared, so the only hope for Sunday was some windswell. That meant another session at Diamond Head Lighthouse.

Getting there a bit early, I phoned in the conditions to Buddy and Makani. It was maybe waist-to-shoulder high, and crumbly.

Walking down the trail to the shoreline, I noticed that the surf looked terribly small from the sea level vantage point. Sigh. I started stretching, then ended up dilly-dallying on the beach, catching sand crabs and digging holes. It just didn’t look at all inviting.

After about 15 minutes, some other surfers walked down the trail, so I hastily grabbed my board and jumped in. For some reason, I just had to get into the lineup ahead of them. I think subliminally it gives me a feeling of slight dominance--silly, but true.

When I got out, I found the waves to be actually pretty fun. There were some bowls to be had with nice power pockets here and there (“achikochi”). Soon afterwards, the lineup filled with the local crew including Buddy-boy, with a few unfamiliar faces sprinkled in.

After one unsensational ride on my part, I was paddling back out right next to another guy who was grinning at me from ear to ear. I responded in kind, saying howzit to a somewhat familiar face. My mind finally put a name to the surfer, and so I sputtered out, “Oh, hi Ken.” It was Ken Bradshaw.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Ken Bradshaw is a North Shore veteran who has surfed some of the biggest waves ever. There recently was a very good article on him in The Surfer’s Journal (TSJ) magazine entitled “The Nation of Ken”.

At first, my thoughts were like, “Wow, that’s *Ken Bradshaw*!” But then I rethought about it—he's really just another surfer like us (It’s just that he surfs waves that are a *little* bigger). So I struck up a conversation with him.

Ken was nothing but polite and cordial. Between waves, we (Buddy too) talked a little bit about a lot of things, especially the TSJ article which I thought was very good, but quite intimate. Ken mentioned that other people recognized that also, but he was OK with it.

In the lineup, Ken was very aggressive, catching lots of waves. However, if anyone else had the right of way, he’d courteously pull back. For a big guy, he surfed quite nimbly, skimming across sections and slashing with his own unique style. It was very obvious that he was having a good time.

So were we. Buddy got some good turns on his board. On a previous session, Buddy was amazed his board had no major dings yet (three months). On this day during a tumble, he put his heel into the bottom leaving a nice dimple. Kiss of death.

I enjoyed my longboard in the small surf, trying to improve my cutback. Think my trailing foot is too far forward and not above the fins (the pivot point). Also got some fun “neo-noserides” and takeoff-wipeouts.

I was just about to leave when Makani paddled out a bit late. Figured I’d stay a bit longer to keep him and Buddy company. Makans immediately got into it, getting some nice rights on his backhand.

All in all, it was a fun surf session. Talking story and sharing the lineup “with” Ken made it unique. Hope to share a lineup with him this coming winter, maybe at Outside Logs… well, maybe not there. :-)

Aloha from Paradise,