Same time, same place. Dawn patrol, Saturday morning (4/13/96), Ehukai Beach Park. Just some fading remnants of a north swell, with moderate sideshore winds starting to build at 10-20 mph.
Paddling out by myself (on my bodyboard), I had to remind myself that it could be much worse. The North Shore during this time of season is iffy, at best. Earlier in the week the swell jumped up to eight feet. Alas, the weekend warrior syndrome bit me again.
Even though it was only one-to-an-occasional-three feet, there were some decent ones to be had. Two foot Pipe and Backdoor is still better than just about any wave on the island. Got some fun walls and a few barrels (tweaked my neck, too) before a small crowd joined me.
The first crew was a group of mainland Japanese (as opposed to local Japanese, like myself). They were obviously inexperienced in the surf, but were still trying hard. I played my usual silent loner sponger dude and kept to myself.
We were soon joined by local haoles, some young and some old. They were a lot more skilled, grabbing a lot of the set waves that came through. (I was still catching *more* than my share of waves, though).
BTW, there is no need being PC in Hawaii. You are labeled by your skin color and background. Sometimes locals pepper these labels with more colorful adjectives, but that's the way it is in the Melting Pot of the Pacific.
Also, it's not what you ride, but how you ride that matters. I know some would beg to digress, but that's my opinion.
Anyway, back to the story. One of the older haole guys started talking to his friend about the real estate market, etc. He was probably some broker or something, a seemingly well-to-do guy. He even tried talking to the Japanese in their native tongue (a language that I, ashamedly, don't know).
During a lull, he floated over by me and asked if "we" were having a good time. He must've assumed I was with the mainland Japanese.
I was caught a bit off guard, but I corrected him, saying that I was from Hawaii. It was an honest error, especially since my once dark tan had faded to a pale yellow.
He apologized, then said that those guys looked to be having the time of their lives out in the surf.
For a moment, I pondered on what he said. Before he said that, all I saw were some inexperienced tourists in the lineup, trying to catch the diminished surf on the tail end of the winter. What I didn't see were people trying to paddle into probably some of the best waves of their lives.
As I was paddling back out after a ride over the Backdoor reef, one of the Japanese guys stroked into a nice head-high wave. I discreetly gave him an approving hoot as he passed me on the shoulder. Time of his life.
Aloha from Paradise,