A few months ago, I put in my application for the bodyboarding portion of the Aloha State Games, a yearly event promoting amateur athletics in the islands. I've competed in this contest before, and have done fairly well (especially since I compete in the "old-man's division"). This year, I wanted to avenge a lost I had against a rival, and try and win the whole enchilada.
On Friday, I called the surf report just to see what was up. "Three-to-five out of the southwest..." was the call. Wow! I didn't expect any swell, and was stoked that we were finally going to have some size during a contest.
Early Saturday, I drove down to Ala Moana Beach Park to get in a warmup sesh. All the breaks were crowded with weekend warriors (like myself) anticipating good surf. Curiously, the surf seemed rather subdued and bumpy, but I went out anyway.
I paddled from Magic Island through Islands to America's, a great righthander that only breaks with a decent groundswell. I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, I caught one measly wave on the inside, before shining it and paddling back to Islands, where I caught a few, then went in.
The Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association (HASA) was holding their state surfing championship at Ala Moana Bowls, so I talked with a few of the guys there. Jack Shipley told me that the surf was good the day before, way overhead, and the kids were ripping it up.
Shortly thereafter, I hit it to Sandy Beach for a little competition of my own. Got stalled a bit by the Kamehameha Day parade.
Coming around the corner, near Bamboo Ridge and Hanauma, I got my first glimpse of the Sandy Beach setup. It looked a bit choppy and windy, with the whitewater breaking pretty far out. The parking scene was already crowded (at 8 am), and the Aloha State Games tent was up.
After checking in, I quickly jumped into the mayhem to warm up a bit more. Saturday is my surf day for the whole week, and I wasn't about to conserve energy just for a stupid contest. I was out there!
It was about two-to-four, with the odd five foot bomb coming in from Generals. The trades were fairly stiff at 10-20 mph. The weird thing was the swell itself. Although it was big, it wasn't breaking well. Often times, the waves would dump without much face to work with. It was only later that I realized the the south swell had a lot of west, which proved a detriment to the conditions.
Caught some decent ones before the contest. I just wanted to get used to pulling into shorebreak waves. When you grow older, the desire to pull in fades a bit. Nowadays, I'd rather work an open faced wave rather than get a few milliseconds of glory freefalling into a dumping pit. I just had to get back into the mindset of taking off with no chance of making the wave.
There were four of us in my first heat (eight entrants total in our age group). My nemesis, who I'd lost to last year, was in the heat, so I knew this wasn't going to be a cakewalk.
I don't like to be inside of anybody, and I relearned why. At the horn, the (only) guy who was sitting outside of me grabbed the first wave, which lined up really well. Damn!
Catching three decent wave within fifteen minutes is difficult enough without having to worry about pleasing the judges. But one of the most important things I've learned through years of competition is patience. So I waited, and waited, and waited.
After over three minutes, a good wave finally came in. I got into it early, and trimmed for quite a while before punching a clean roll on the oncoming lip. I *never* do rollos going left, so this even surprised me.
The other waves I caught were pretty unremarkable. I did pull into a barrel right over the Pipe Littles reef, waving to the crowd just before getting lightly pressed onto the coral. Coming out of the water, I felt that I didn't do well enough to advance.
As I was showering, they announced the results. Surprisingly, I got first place! I guess the other guys must've done poorly, too. So I made it to the finals (my rival did not advance).
I was pretty exhausted from the first heat and the two short sessions prior. The sun was beating down hard, and waiting on the beach always sucks. Fortunately, there were few competitors this year, so the heats finished up rather quickly.
Four of us finally paddled out for our final. Just as the previous heat ended, a set of waves poured in. When our heat finally got started, the waves were gone. So we waited, and waited, and waited.
Four minutes into the heat, I finally got my first ride. I tried to do carves to the beach, but the wave just wouldn't cooperate. That set the tone for the rest of my heat.
I just couldn't put it together on my rides. The waves at Pipe Littles has this hook that you have to get around before going into the shorebreak, and I always seemed too far back to punch a maneuver. That swell angle was really screwing up the way the wave lined up, and the surf seemed to be dwindling down.
With a couple of minutes left in the heat, I found myself scratching for a wave at the shorebreak. My previous go-outs had drained me and I just couldn't get down the wave gracefully. At that moment, I decided to release my frustrations and freefall off the eight foot precipice. I landed flat on my back before being engulfed by the wave, then got pressed on the sandy bottom. Surprisingly, I felt good about kooking out like that.
After the heat, I was talking to another competitor. He was as frustrated as I was, but got one good wave, an in-and-out to the beach. No chance for me, I thought.
Soon afterwards, they started announcing the results. Top three got medals. I got first again! I was more than pleasantly shocked.
Looking back at the final heat, I really didn't do well at all--the waves just didn't allow for maneuvers to be performed. But the rest of the competitors had it just as bad. Maybe the spectacular wipeout helped my score. I guess every dog has his day.
Afterwards, I went back to Ala Mo and did some water shots at the state championships for the bodyboarding divisions. Now those kids rip. They were pulling drop-knee floaters and ARS's (air-roll-spins) no problem. I guess all contests are not created equal.
Aloha from Paradise,
P.S. Since the weekend, the surf has continued to decline, with pulses of good surf. Bernie Baker said that's going to be the trend because of the nature and angle of the groundswell. Better than being flat...