Note: Sorry if this is a bit long-winded.
Unknown Backside Attacker
Thursday, 11/2/95 -- FRUSTRATION. I managed to get some time to do some mid-week bodyboarding. The swell was supposed to pick up to five feet, with strong south winds kicking in that afternoon. So I drove all the way to Mokuleia's and was greeted with one foot mush. Drove to Haleiwa, just in case, but it looked like a crowded lake. I went home and hoped for the best for Saturday.
Friday, 11/3/95 -- ANTICIPATION. A huge front swept across the islands from the southwest. Some parts of Oahu got over three inches of rain in a short, but violent deluge. Lightning streaked the sky and thunder boomed right above. Real wrath of God kine stuff.
When I got home that night, I checked the bouy reports. Fifteen feet, seventeen seconds! That means the North Shore would be huge! Winds were forecast to come out of the SSE. Should I go to the west, where it should be smaller, but more chopped? What should I ride? I'll sleep on it and decide tomorrow.
Saturday, 11/4/95 -- REALIZATION. Woke up at 0520. Damn! Late for my dawn patrol. On a whim, I decided to pack only my longboard and head to Makaha.
The drive was long, but peaceful. Sunrise was at 6:35, so I couldn't see the surf along the way. One thing was for sure, the wind looked pretty good--real calm.
Got to Makaha at 6:00. Already there were a half dozen cars with older groms (the 40 plus crew) waiting for first light. With my headlights, I could see that the surf was about two-to-three and mushy. Ten seconds later, I'm doing a 180 and heading for the North Shore. After all, if it's small in Makaha, it can't be much bigger on the North Shore. . . could it?
On the road, I was treated to a dazzling sunrise. Although there was nearly total cloud cover, the sun peaked through in pink and blue pastels. It truly was a beautiful sight to behold.
Driving through the pineapple fields past Wahiawa, I got the first glimpse of the surf. Moke's was breaking, along with Avalanches and Puena Point (?) -- it was big!
I stopped at Lani's to relieve myself and check the surf. No one's out (6:45), and for good reason. There's too much west for Lani's and it looked a gnarly eight feet.
Waimea Bay looked relatively calm, considering the swell size. However, the water was chocolate brown from the recent flush of rain. Yuck!
Taking a quick check at Sunset, I found that the prelims for the Xcel pro was on. It was lining up really nicely, all the way through the inside section. They were going to score (again).
Doing another 180, I finally parked it at my stomping grounds at Ehukai Beach Park. Running to the Ronnie Burns memorial bench, I looked to the left and saw Pipeline GOING OFF! The waves were easily eight feet and conditions were excellent. Although it was totally overcast, the wind was nonexistent providing pristine conditions.
Damn, I only had my longboard, and I wasn't about to backside big Pipe. I left my trusty Custom X bodyboard (plug) back home (stupid!), so I was SOL. But wait, I always wanted to get some good water photos of Pipe, and this was the opportune time.
Quickly, I put on my short-john and grabbed my Viper fins and H2Oddysea gloves (another plug), along with my puny watercam. My wetsuit felt one size too small--must be because I haven't lost my sympathy pregnancy poundage yet.
After stretching, I tried to time the sets, to minimize the paddle out effort. Just then, Third Reef and Outside Pupukeas broke! So I waited a little longer.
When the coast looked clear, I paddled into the mayhem. Anyone who has ever surfed Pipeline knows about the rip that runs laterally towards Sunset. Well, I started swimming out close to that little exposed rock, and was instantly swept to the right. I just missed the crease between Pipe and Gums, and got caught in the shorepound at Ehukai. By the time I gave up and got back to shore, I was at Pupukeas, about 200 yards from where I started. I had to embarrassingly walk back and try again.
After a bit of rest, I went for it, this time making it with relative ease. Once through the shorebreak, I had to swim 100 plus yards to get to the lineup. It was worth it. Her royal badness was going off big time.
It was a long time since I shot Pipe, so I approached it very tentatively at first. A lot of the photos were taken from afar, with the shoulder of the wave in the frame--I sitting way too wide in the "channel."
The crew was charging hard and barrels were the order of the day. Standouts were Derek (of course), Sunny and Shmoo, Liam and Kalani. Stewie was leading the pack for the bodyboarders (his tube riding prowess and mighty forward airs were awe-inspiring). The Brazil nut Guilherme Tamega was also blowing minds, getting some sick pits.
Taking photos was a welcomed relief from jockeying for waves (it was kind of on the big side for me anyway). The perspective is incredible, and just pushing through a breaking wave at Pipe is exhilarating.
Trying to stay near the impact zone was pretty hairy. One big set caught most of the lineup unaware, and nailed us. When diving ten feet down, I was amazed at how strong the fingers of turbulence were, and how dark it became as the whitewater rolled over me. There were boards everywhere and guys cursing and swimming in.
After an hour-half of being the only water photog, I was joined by Chris Van Lennep, who promptly snagged a killer shot of Derek (I was sitting behind him). Jealousy kicked in. Nah, shouldn't sweat it -- he's one of the best.
Half an hour later, I finally ran out of film and made my way in. Bodysurfing in a little tubelet, I was again aching to be a participant, rather than a documenter. But hey, sometimes watching is just as fun, especially with the talent and the arena.
I got a pretty decent workout. For the rest of the weekend, my right forearm and hand was aching and tingling from putting a death grip on my camera. Fear will do that to you.
As for the photos. . . well, I'm having them processed at this moment. Will put a few of them on my home page (http://www.ohana.com/hisurfad/) when I get them, then might send some to BIM and H3O mags. I hope the lighting comes out alright. I usually am disappointed with my results, but gotta keep optimistic.
Don't know what the surf trend is for the next week. Right now, I'm content. Sometimes one good day will do that to you.
Aloha from Paradise
Neal "Sponge" Miyake
Mike Stewart, Still the King
Chris Van Lennep got a better shot of Derek Ho
Unknown Bodyboarder Getting Fully Pitted