MSIPP as a Noncompetitor -- 1/11/02

Off the Wall was substantial

Friday was my day off, and coincidentally, they decided to run the second day of the 2002 Mike Stewart International Pipeline Pro. Shoots!

After dropping off my daughter in Town, I once again raced out to the North Shore, this time with intent on shooting the contest from the water.

When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see clean, medium-sized waves coming through. Contest Director Bob Thomas told me that no one had checked in yet to shoot from the water, so I had the green light.

Since this was a contest situation, I wanted to shoot from afar, keeping my distance from the competitors. It was the perfect opportunity for me to try out a borrowed 80 mm lens for my Nikonos (usually I use the standard 35 mm). I had no idea how to frame the shots, so I just planned to center everything and shoot away.

Conditions were really easy, with sets only about double-overhead--most much smaller. I started off at Pipe, and got some decent stuff. Soon enough, Vince Cavataio and Cameron Nelson joined me in the channel.

After a little bit, I tried my hand at Backdoor. I'm usually quite uncomfortable out there because sneaker sets tend to make it sketchy. You have to really be aware of where you are sitting relative to the oncoming waves.

I shot away pretty quickly, burning 37 shots (Fujifilm Provia asa 400 slide film). Besides shooting the competitors, I once again tried to get a good empty tube shot. Had some decent ones, but Iím still looking to shoot that once-in-a-lifetime keeper, as so many water photogs have.

After a couple of hours, I finally came in (pics here) and cruised on the beach for a while with Chris and Scott, the crew. I had a burning desire to get some sponge time, so I eventually sauntered down to Off the Wall, looking for an opportunity to get out.

Though Pipe was relatively tame, Off the Wall was quite a bit more unruly and powerful. In fact, before heading out, I was warned by my friend Kyle Maligro that the paddle out was tough and that he had caught just a single wave. I only had an hour and I was hungry, so I just went for it.

It took me quite a while, but I got lucky with a slight break in the action, and made my way out. The lineup was filled with some ringers, including Paul Roach, Jeff Hubbard, Naoshi Grady, and others.

I was just happy to be in blue water, but I managed to snag a few fun ones too, including a big pull-in. What looked like super-makeable waves from shore was actually fast sections that were difficult to negotiate. It's always tough getting waves right next to a contest site.

On my last wave, I had the opportunity to launch, but aimed for the lip too late. Ended up folding my back on takeoff. Man, I definitely am getting old. Limped to shore, licking my wounds.

Despite the pain, it was still a fun, short session. Not having the specter of competition looming made it that much more enjoyable.

Aloha from Paradise,