Expectations -- 10/26/96

The forecast was for 4-6' sets for the dawn patrol on a declining swell. Jerry and I arrived at Ehukai Beach Park at 5:45 am and were greeted with... small waves. It was no more than shoulder high. High expectations can really be a bummer.

Out of the darkness, a figure started talking to us. This local guy was deciding whether to go out, and he started going off with his pidgin english, swearing on every other word with his high-pitched voice. He hadn't surfed in about 20 years, but heard the forecast and decided to longboard.

Although Jerry and I were disappointed, we decided to go for it, and convinced the local bruddah to do the same. After all, it's (almost) always good enough to get wet, to at least paddle around if nothing else. So we changed, waxed up and trotted down the beach.

It was a calm, clear night with a nearly full moon overlooking Pipe. Dawn was still over a half hour away, so the moon backlit the lineup with a surreal reflection. Darkness can truly amplify even small conditions into exciting moments.

The three of us traded waves for a few minutes, relishing the solitude and blackness. Unfortunately, it didn't last long. By the time dawn came, I counted a dozen riders in the lineup, and two hours later, the number swelled to forty!

But the increasing crowd was understandable. Slowly but surely, the waves got better and better, with some sets pushing five feet. The weird thing was that it was coming out of the west--that meant new swell! Where the hell was it coming from? I thought it was on the decline?

With the sunlight, I was reacquainted with our friend who we coaxed into the water. He turned out to be a pretty imposing fellow, and seemed to know a lot of people in the lineup. I guess I didin't expect him to be so large. But he had a heart of gold, helping out Jerry, and talking, talking, talking.

I saw this bodyboarder who looked vaguely familiar, so I started talking to him. His name was Dean Seppings from South Africa. I probably met him in the lineup last winter. Nice guy; real quiet in the lineup. (He just made a spread in Pit mag).

The bodyboarders from SA are really making their presence known on the North Shore. Last year, a guy named Alistair Taylor came over for a month, subsiding only on one large bag of potatos, and made it to the Morey International finals. Hardcore!

Another familiar face in the lineup was Joel Tudor (the longboard prodigy from SoCal). I made small talk with him and found out he was in town for the last leg of the Bud Surf Tour. He was already bounced from the event in lackluster Turtle Bay surf (the event will finish up at Makaha). Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see him ride on his triple stringer tanker (no leash, of course), but I've seen him work small Ehukai with his traditional longboarding style.

One of the great things about the North Shore is that you get to see and meet people from around the world. Surfing celebrities are a dime a dozen here, and getting in the water gives you the opportunity to meet the personalities behind the media gloss.

What about "us" two celebrities-in-our-own-mind? As for Jerry, well, he was very aggressive for a guy picked up the sport less than a year ago. He took off on some really nice waves, and was as stoked as ever. Even when it's small, Pipe has a lot more power than your average wave, but he handled.

I enjoyed myself also. I was pretty aggressive and caught quite a few waves before the crowd overwhelmed us. Although the swell was westerly, I caught some nice funnels at Backdoor. However, my wave of the day came at Pipe, where I caught this four foot west peak with a slight north hook that concaved the wave face inwards. I raced out a bit too far, but still managed to get pitted nicely.

The good waves were short-lived however, with the waves coming back down to shoulder-high and inconsistent. By that time, 9:00 am, we had had enough of the crowd, so we bailed.

Once home, I called the surf report, just to see what they called it. "Only one-to-three feet", they said. I understood why it was called so small, but I smiled to myself, knowing that we got it way better than that. I guess you never know what to expect.

Aloha from Paradise,

P.S. Sunday was a whole different story. The buoys were at 17 feet and 17 seconds, and the surf peaked at fifteen feet in the afternoon! I ended up exercising to Cindy Crawford with my wife. (no flames, please.)

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