On Tuesday, they held the second day of the Chiemsee Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters in epic eight-to-twelve foot conditions. The local news had some incredible footage.
Wednesday was a tad smaller at four-to-six, so they postponed the contest. I decided to check out Pipeline after work, just for the fun of it. The swell had swung out more from the north, with patchy cloud cover and brisk trades.
Crowded? Actually it wasn't that bad. It was a typical mix of surfers, bodyboarders, photographers and even a bodysurfer. What wasn't typical was the personalities.
I was paddling out when I got the feeling I was being stared down. Being polite, I gave a sidelong glance (rather than my usual stink eye). The dude was none other than Shaun Tomson. He was just nonchalantly looking my way, so I gave him the eyebrow bat, and paddled on.
I soon realized I was surrounded by celebrities. At the peak was Gerry Lopez, right next to James Jones. Some other older guys looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't recognize them. This year, the event organizers invited the Pipe master winners of the 70's for an expression session just before the final--kinda like the Senior Golf Tour of Surfing. Some of them must've been practicing. It's going to be classic heat.
There also were a lot of kids in the lineup, including supergroms Kalani Robb and Rob Machado. I even did a short interview of Kalani (to be added to my home page soon).
Didn''t get much waves, though. The north flow made it kinda sketchy. Went over to Off-the- Wall and caught a small wall that lined up pretty good. I signed it off with a forward flip. However, my cocky exit left me caught inside, where I proceeded to add two feet to my leash. After getting beached, I walked back to Pipeline and paddled out through the channel.
I decided to relieve my stress from the crowds by paddling over to Gums. No sooner did I get there when Team North Shore Bodyboarders arrive: Lanson, Nelz and Tony Boy. To make matters worse, California's shine-boy, Brian Wise is there too. Fortunately, they are my buddies, and I manage to snag a few before going in.
I remember working at my first HPAC pro surf contest in 1990. I was looking forward to meeting some "pro surfers." Contest Director Reid Inouye just chuckled at me, like he was thinking, "What's the big deal?" It was to me, at the time.
Well, now that I know some of these surfers, I still hold them in high regard, but they aren't godlike icons to me anymore. Most of them are super cool. But with the humble ones, there are cocky ones. With the success stories, there are losers.
They are human, just like you and me. They have their own dreams, fears and demons. It's just that they are famous. Oh, and they surf a little better than you and me.
Aloha from Paradise,
Neal "Sponge" Miyake