Second Round -- 11/12/01
Yet another alt.surfer was in town. This time it was Tom (aka "tdsurf") from California.
A new swell was expected to reinforce an already decent swell, and the buoys were pinging at a respectable 8 feet, 17 seconds. However, the afternoon session by Buddy and Rich found the surf to be only a couple feet overhead. So I had low expectations of scoring any waves of consequence.
Woke up uncharacteristically late at 5:30 AM--must've turned off the darned alarm. I blasted out in 35 minutes flat (pretty amazing) to a still darkened North Shore. As expected, it was smallish-medium, but still had a few bigger ones.
Rather than wait for Buddy and Tom to arrive, I told them I'd jump in at Pipe and catch a few tubes on my sponge.
When I reached the lineup, I found that the surf was a little better than expected. It was about 2-4+' Haw'n and clean, with the surf coming mostly out of the north.
The crew in the water was surprisingly young, with lots of unfamiliar faces. In fact, the only guy I recognized was Californian Brian Wise, who is a kid to me, but probably an old fart to the others (what does that make me?). Think there were a slew of new Aussies.
I sat deep, more to avoid the crowd than anything, and caught some of the peaks that swung inside. Managed to snag a few good cover-ups, with one in-and-out followed by a small-kine air.
After a little more than an hour, I made my way to the beach and jogged up to the beach park. I remember fumbling my way through the decent crowd eyeing the lineup when I heard my name. There, standing amongst the rest of the people were Buddy and Tom, checking out the action.
I'm never sure what to expect when I meet the cybercrew, but it has never been bad. Getting to know Tom was no different. We said our ‘howzits' and got to know each other, all the while trying to decide where to surf. He and his wife are really cool and were both stoked to be in the islands.
We settled on the peaks outside Pupukea and Gas Chambers, which looked somewhat mushy, but decent size with only four guys out. Little did we know that things were about to change.
Conditions were as good as it gets, with azure colored water and virtually no wind. The sun was just peaking over Pupukea and warmed us further in the tepid water.
As soon as we made our way out, we noticed a slight jump in both surf height. What started as 3-4'(Haw'n) rolling peaks soon turned into 4-6' growlers, breaking top-to-bottom and sectioning menacingly.
For some reason, this wave drew a lot of attention. I heard that every once in a while, some not-so-big-name surfspots turn on and grab the spotlight for a day or so. Guess this was Pupukea's time.
Before we knew it, there was a slew of riders out, from local rippers to pro surfer girls. Even bodysurfer extraordinaire Mark Cunningham was partaking in the action.
In the water, one surfer told me "howzit" and said that he remembered me from Pipeline earlier in the day. He noticed that I was on my "second round", bodyboarding at Pipe first, and now surfing at Pupukea. He himself switched gears too, initially bodysurfing, then went shortboarding.
As for our crew, well we weren't doing all that great. Buddy was the standout, snagging some really long righthanders, doing his rail-to-rail riding.
Tom gamely challenged the surf, but was undergunned with a snub-nosed 6'3". Although he was disappointed with his session, his stoke to just being in the islands was readily apparent. Anyway, he and his wife were capturing some good video with his brand new Canon GL-1 Mini-DV cam, for eventual uploading to his www.wavecam.com site.
As for me, well I think I should first talk about my surfboard. Because my longboard has two extreme creases, I asked my friend Jimmy if I could borrow his board. Jimmy has a thick, wide 7'10" hybrid/funboard that I've been eyeing for some time and Jimmy was kind enough to let me give it a go.
Well, being out in biggish surf (for me) on someone else's board was a bit disconcerting. But I did not want to let these beautiful conditions go to waste. After a couple of tentative rides on smaller waves, I finally was in position for a set.
I stroked hard (with paddling gloves) and propped myself up. Simultaneously, as the wave hit the reef, it surprised me by jacking up steeply. By then I was committed, and just pushed down on the nose, expecting to pearl and wipeout.
Amazingly, the board just connected and negotiated the drop with ease. I'm so used to the takeoff limitations of my longboard that I did not expect making this wave. I took the bottom turn, trimmed a while, then kicked out as the section closed in front of me. Stoked!
I spent most of the rest of the session scrambling around, avoiding peaks while watching the very aggressive crowd catch all the waves. It was a bit of a bummer in that respect. But then again, just sitting in the lineup watching these crazy riders charging these sizable waves was pretty inspiring.
Ended up going over the falls a couple of times and probably stretched the leash a foot or two from getting caught inside. All the while I was thinking, "Man, if Jimmy could see me now, he'd kill me!"
The waves kept building and looked quite menacing, closing out quite often. However the crowd was about as rabid as could be, taking off on some serious closeouts. The fact that there were several video cameras on the beach may have been part of the cause.
At one point, I got so flustered by the crowd and waves that I yelled out loud to Tom and the crew, "It's too big for me! I'm going in." The crowd was quite reticent, and I got more than a few curious stares. That's ok. I no more shame!
I finally got smart and sat alone further north, waiting for the odd peaks that didn't closeout too fast. Caught some fun ones, especially my last, which gave me a nice wall to relish followed by a closeout that I successfully banked off of.
Cruised with Tom and his wife on the beach while Buddy caught his last few. Tom said that they probably got some of my rides on video so I was stoked inside.
Watching from the beach, you could really see the aggression as surfers threw themselves into some serious pits, obviously in the name of capturing it all on film. It was inspiring, but at the same time frustrating since they were taking off on waves they couldn't make, leaving people in better position to sit on the peak or shoulder.
The session was really fun, especially having that bodysurfer identify me the second time around. Despite all my complaints, we did manage some very nice rides in between.
Postscript: Tom emailed us afterwards, saying that all his 55 minutes of videotaping that day was a wash, with camera problems ruining it. I was bummed for Tom because he obviously had gotten some good material (not us, but other people). Oh well. At least we got the memories.
Aloha from Paradise,