Swell Surprise -- 10/28/01

Way better than we thought it would be

Given all the satellite and buoy data along with modern forecasting, it's really unusual not to know about a swell days in advance. However, every once in a while a sneaker will remind us not to count too much on swell models.

All the forecasts were pointing to a dismal weekend of surf. In fact, it looked so bad that Buddy and I were seriously thinking of shining the surf and trying our hand at a skatepark. It's a good thing we didn't.

Talking to Buddy on Saturday, I was absolutely amazed that he scored near double-overhead surf in the Country. "No lie!" I said. But it was true. The NE winds that were predicted brought better than expected swellage. In fact, the buoy was ringing at a solid 14 feet, 11 seconds. All of a sudden, I was really looking forward to our Sunday dawn patrol.

Got out there early in the morning. Surprisingly, there were no cars in the parking lot. Maybe other people didn't hear about the swell too.

I wasn't waiting around to find out. At first light, around 6 AM, I made my way out solo. The surf was messy with the winds and short period, but it was chunky and fun. It was about 4-5' Haw'n with some a little bigger.

I had it for myself for the first half-hour, just cruising in the ôlineup." Because of the short period, the waves were breaking all over the place, and given the size, it was quite difficult to get into the waves. You had to already be real close to the sweet spot to catch waves.

I was fortunate to get a few decent ones early, using my longboard and paddling gloves to my advantage. Worked my way out to the main peak and got some big drops and a few fun walls. I really was just riding the waves--very little break in trim or serious maneuvers. Still, it was fun with the power all around.

Soon enough others joined me, along with Buddy. Right off the bat, the Budster tagged an airdrop at the outside peak. Throughout the sesh, he sat in the pit and took off on some meaty ones. It wasn't connecting as well as the day before, but he made the most of it.

It was overcast and a bit rainy--not your idyllic tropical paradise--but there still was a sort of beauty in the raw, unbridled conditions.

One weird thing is that I felt fairly calm throughout the session. A couple of seasons ago, I would have been freaking out, but now I'm a bit more used to it. Still, there were moments when the main peak broke outside and to the left of me as I scrambled over the shoulder.

On one big set wave, I thought I was on it. I stroked deep and hard, trying to claw my way down. But the wave jacked and as I looked down 15 feet into the trough, I decided that I this wave didn't want me to ride it. Had to reluctantly pull back, straining to avoid going over the falls. Bummer.

After three hours of trying, I found my attempts to waves caught was especially low, so I decided I had had enough. Saw Bud get eaten on an inside set and break his leash (so I thought). Figuring he went in, I took the opportunity to catch one in.

Surprisingly, when I reached the parking lot, I found Buddy's car sans Buddy. Found out later that his leash strap came off intact, so he just kept surfing.

Oh well, I had to leave anyway. Although I had an overall poor session, I was stoked that I got a chance to surf in some size. What a nice surprise!

Epilogue: Washing my board off at home, I was horrified to find *another* buckle, this one right in the center of the board with spider cracks on the deck and the bottom. The life of this board is quickly coming to an end. Some surprises aren't so nice after all.

Aloha from Paradise,