Perceptions -- 1/11/97

Have you ever met a netsurfer IRL? I've been fortunate enough to meet a few alt.surfing lurkers.

Last year, a guy named Danny Clark from Central Cal gave me a buzz, saying he would be in town for a while. We hooked up over Korean plate lunches and talked story. It was pretty weird at first, because it was difficult for me to connect an email address and callsign to a real person. But after a while, I realized that he was a computer geek who has a passion for waveriding, just like myself.

Well, a few weeks ago, Danny buzzed me again and said he'd be in town and would like to go bodyboarding. I was a bit apprehensive at first. Sometimes I feel like I build myself up as this hellman bodyboarder who can give Mike Stewart a run for his money (nothing could be further from the truth). This time, there could be no exaggeration or embellishment to my exploits (not that there ever is...); this time there would be a witness!

The North Shore was expected to be in the 10 foot range on Saturday--a bit to big for us. So we decided to head out west. Danny wanted to check that side out anyway. He had heard of good surf and heavy localism on the West Side, and wanted a kama'aina to show him the way.

Well, I wouldn't call myself a true westside local, but I do frequent the breaks down there when the North Shore gets out of control. It's really funny that his perception of the West Side was the same as my impression of his home breaks in Oxnard/Ventura.

The day before had seen excellent ten foot waves at Makaha with light crowds. So it was no big surprise to us that the parking area was crowded when we got there--the coconut wireless network is very efficient in that way. However, in the darkness, it looked like the swell had shifted more north, causing the waves to break off the point in a kinda funky manner. We decided to head further west in search of better waves.

We checked out all the marquee spots up the road (which shall remain nameless), but the swell direction just wasn't quite right. So we hightailed it back to Makaha in hopes of some improvement.

With the sun peaking over the Waianae range, and some early morning risers already in the lineup, it was looking a lot better. We were on it!

Conditions were excellent, with absolutely no breeze on a sunny, cloudless sky. The waves were at first somewhat inconsistent, running in the three-to-five foot range. Because of the northerly swell direction, both the rights as well as the lefts were peeling nicely. Danny aptly compared it to a good day at Windansea, with a much longer ride.

Although it was moderately crowded, there were no real aggro wave-hogs to spoil the session--just positive vibes. Everyone was spread out along the "peel" line, with a few guys looking for the shorter lefts. We moved around a bit, but spent most of our time just inside the impact zone, waiting for the mid-sized sets. Sometimes we'd get caught inside on the big ones, but the waves were pretty forgiving on that day.

I saw Danny take off on some really nice walls, but becuase of the length of ride, I never really got a chance to see him perform. I know he scored some good rides, though. You could almost sense his grin from afar as he was paddling back out through the channel.

I struggled a bit in the beginning, but hit my stride when the waves got a bit more consistent. On one wave, I did a forward flip on the backwash, staying on the wave. On the second backwash, I tried it again, but ended up slapping my nads on the water. Auwe!

On another wave, I took off into a really nice, long wall. I did three fully extended cutbacks before kicking out at the shorebreak. Rode for about 75 yards.

The crowd was soon graced by a cadre of "wicked wahine wave warriors", lead by the indomitable Rell Sunn, Queen of Makaha (whose cancer seems to again be in remission). They, along with a group of girl bodyboarders, proceeded to dispel the idea of a weaker sex in surfing.

Rell's husband, Dave Parmenter was also out there, performing at a level head and shoulders above the rest of us. And let's not get into any of this "haole boy and local girl" bulls#!t. Dave and Rell are two uncommon souls that have common bonds: the love for surfing, the love for each other and the love for life.

With the increasing crowd, we decided we had had enough, and made our way to shore. We talked story with a local waveski rider, grabbed a soda from the manapua wagon then headed home.

Sometimes what you perceive is 180 degrees out from reality. Granted, there are some bad elements on that side of the island (I've been punched and yelled at out there). For the most part, however, the people are friendlier and more caring than their town counterparts. Just remember, they take care of their own.

In a sport like surfing, where localism still exists, negative perceptions of a spot can be used to keep the outsiders out. Good or bad, that's just the way it is.

So in my best pidgin english, I'd like to tell bruddah Danny, "Eh cuz, we wen' score choke choice waves! So what, when we going surf Oxnard, brah?"

Aloha from Paradise,