Lost Fin -- 2/21/05

Takayuki Wakita charging; unfortunately he ate it

Date: February 21, 2005
Time: 0615-0830, 0930-1030
Spot(s): Pipeline, Hima's
Conditions: Pristine!
Swell: WNW and NNW
Surf: 6-8'+ Haw'n

Words: Hit the water well before sunrise. The buoys said that the surf was big. The ponding on the beach confirmed it. But the surf just didn't look that big in the dark.

First ride was fine and dandy--easy shoulder on a smallish wall all the way in. Paddling back out, I noticed something on the horizon. Was that Second Reef breaking? Nah!

Second ride was a completely different story. Thought it looked good right up until I started freefalling. "Oh s#!t!" was all that went through my mind as I floated down into the trough, then got sucked right up and over into dark oblivion. Wave was much bigger than I expected. Only grazed the reef but knew it could've been much worse.

Sometime during the journey, I felt my left foot curl and my swim fin slipping off effortlessly, despite having a fin tether on. Damn! Damn! Damn! Came up in the pit, but had to look for the fin in the darkness. Like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Made my way to shore and spent the next half hour combing the beach from Gums to Gas Chambers, squinting for a glimpse of the fin, all to no avail.

While on the sand, I saw a huge set pour through the Pipe lineup. Crested at Third Reef and rolled in from Second. The inside was an impossible, heaving closeout. Maybe losing my fin was some sort of cosmic sign telling me I should stay out of the water. I seriously considered calling it a day right then and there.

However, I knew that the swell was on the decline and I just couldn't bear wasting my precious water time because of a lost fin. S#!t, I used to ride with one fin all the time in high school. So I decided to chance it and head back out, if only to cruise on the sidelines and take some pictures. I'm glad I did.

The paddle out was easy. Losing one "motor" was tough though, but I adapted. Waves were just so pretty!

Spent most of my time shooting on the shoulder. The dual swells made for some peaky conditions, but no one was complaining. I was blown away by some of the perfection I saw out there. Crowd was surprisingly mellow, with everyone getting barreled off their nut. Really bummed about not being able to partake, but at the same time, I was grateful to be able to at least witness it all. Even caught a few tiny ones on the inside.

Left at 0830 to meet up with Buddy. He thought Hima's might be happening, so we made the very long paddle out there (me still sans a fin).

There definitely were waves out there, but they were inconsistent and tended to feather a lot. As usual, Buddy caught his share, this time riding his 7'0" gun. I was very frustrated not being able to stroke into any waves, but I finally redeemed myself with a couple of long lefts that made it all worthwhile. The second one was especially good because it doubled up at the peak for a big takeoff.

Despite the lost fin, I tried making the most of it. Still managed to snag a few beauties and captured many others digitally. However, from now on I will be carrying a spare fin in the car, just in case.


Third Reef Pipe popping

Naked foot

Buddy taking off deep at Hima's

Aloha from Paradise,