Inside Pipe

9/22/96. Dawned it to Pipe. It was really small--about waist-high--and there was lots of backwash. But the sun was out and the water was warm. Hawaii no ka oi (#1).

9/25/96. My weekend warrior syndrome has been temporarily cured! The night before, the weather report forecast a rising swell on the North Shore. "Would you like to surf tomorrow?" my wife asked. Don't have to ask me twice, my dear.

Early morning reports called it three feet. However, buoy #1 was already bobbing at 2.5 meters at 17 second intervals for 10 hours, so the swell was definitely on its way. Chance um! After work, I went for it.

Just past Wahiawa you can get your first glance of swell. Well, the whitewater lines were nonexistent. Damn, did I come too early? However, a few minutes later, I noticed some lines in front of Waialua. Inconsistent, but at least there was some size, I surmised.

After parking the car, I jogged over to Ehukai Beach Park to do my obligatory spot check. Quite a few people were in the water, sitting fairly deep, but not a wave in sight. Guarans it was inconsistent.

Grabbed my gear anyway and paddled out on my Custom X (shameless plug) bodyboard. Swell looked like it was coming out the northwest, with a tad of north. Not ideal. Waves would sweep in, but shut down quickly at Pipe. Backdoor was pretty much closing out. There were a few brave souls at Off-the-Wall, but it was "Closeout City" out there.

Pipe was looking really funky with the backwash. The bank of sand was still fairly high and steep, causing the waves to refract right back out. If you didn't catch the first wave, the backwash would wreak havoc on the subsequent ones. The surfers were having a difficult time negotiating the takeoffs. Bodyboarders dominated on this day.

After about an hour of jockeying and positioning, I finally pulled into a beauty. I hate crowds, so I like to position myself at an extreme end of the pack. That meant sitting by Backdoor and patiently waiting. Every once in a while, a swell would peak near Aint's (a mythical spot between OTW and Backdoor). I snagged one of them (the first wave of the set, too).

At takeoff, the wave was at least four feet (Haw'n). It let me in so smoothly--no awkward digging of my rail on this baby. At the bottom, I was immediately slotted into a good trim. I'm not too comfortable sitting deep in the pit, so I was running ahead of the gaping mouth of the tube. I was deep enough to see that beautiful arc run up my peripheral vision and over me--that curve that I've drawn a thousand times in my dream wave doodles. I felt a hollow sound, like the Spouting Horn on Kauai, and felt a bit of mist as the air pressure went low. The wave did a little extra pitch over me, then opened up. Yeah!

Total tube time, maybe a little over two seconds. Felt like an eternity. Like I said before, time expands in the barrel.

That was the wave of the day for me, I thought. But I stayed out longer, fighting off cramps in four of my muscles (I'm out of shape, big time).

About an hour later, I dialed into another one of those peaks (same size). This time, I came down a little late. On the bottom turn, the wave threw over me, and I was deep in the throat of this one. The wave gave a little spit and nudged me out of the tube. I guess I had two co-waves of the day.

The surf was definitely on the rise. So much so that by the end of my session, the bank of sand on the beach was partially flattened out, with the backwash easing up a bit. Just before I left, I had to paddle over a solid eight footer. Is there anything more exhilarating than scratching over a beast? Really makes you feel alive (maybe, it really makes you feel happy to be alive).

I am not comfortable in anything over six feet. A hellman I aint. The rising swell was perfect for my skill level, easing me slowly out of my comfort zone. It was a very good session.

Heard that the surf peaked that night at about twelve feet. It's about six-to-ten right now (9/26/96).

Aloha from Paradise,

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