Pipe on a Stick -- 12/28/03

Small, but still tubular

Date: December 28, 2003
Time: 0630 -- 1000
Spot(s): Pipeline/Backdoor
Conditions: Mostly glassy; crowded Pipe lineup
Swell: new WNW was trying to come in Surf: 2-3' with some 4' Haw'n

Words: It was supposed to rain big time on Saturday night and into Sunday, but the surf was also supposed to rise. It was a crapshoot, but I chanced it anyway, and set my sights for a dawn patrol on Sunday.

Standing on the beach at Ehukai, I could see these thunderclouds on the horizon, with an occasional bolt of lightning lighting up the northwest sky. There was a firm offshore breeze blowing and it was damned cold! Surf did not look good at all, but it seemed like Pipe was the best place at the time.

Just for s#!ts and grins, I decided to bust out the shortboard. I haven't really tried shortboarding Pipe before, so I was a little apprehensive. My riding has improved a bit, but I know I'm not the nimblest rider in the world. Small, quick conditions would be a good test for me.

Went out in the darkness, and I must say it was a little better than I had originally thought. The waves were small, but fairly powerful, doubling up a little on the inside. I was well-aware of this and actually overcompensated by being a little too careful initially.

Laks and his friend (both Kiwis) quickly joined me and we were amazed at our good fortune of having the place to ourselves. The lineup fairly quickly filled up, but at least for the first few minutes of the session, it was ours.

I quickly realized that the surfboard could indeed handle the conditions. I'm still amazed at the lateness I can take off and still make it to the bottom. I guess my frame of reference is still that of a longboard.

Snagged a really nice, wedging right which I took off on slightly behind the west-northwesterly peak. Bottom-turned under the hook and got a great view of curving wall. Even could see the pitching lip in my peripheral vision for a few milliseconds, so I know I was in the hook. Came out clean, only to be humbled by the rest of the set that pushed me back to the Ehukai channel.

The crowd eventually got quite maddening, with lots of rippers and wannabes (I'm in the latter group, thank you very much). Jon-Jon Florence came out, along with her mother who was a surprisingly nimble and graceful longboarder. Saw a couple of old friends like Darren Tatsuno, who ended up on the Japanese pro surfing tour and is now a successful shaper. Also saw a bunch of distant acquaintance bodyboarders who were in town for the upcoming world championship comp.

Eventually, the size and expertise of the crowd overwhelmed me and I ended up coming in, a bit frustrated. At least I got a few to myself early on. I'm looking forward to trying the place on the shortboard at a little more size.