Easing Off -- 1/19/97

Planned to do the dawn patrol with Jerry on Sunday morn. The forecast for the North Shore was 4-6+' out of the north. Even though it was a bit out of Jerry's comfort zone (and bordering mine), we decided to try our luck.

Because it was a north swell, we did a spot check of Laniakeas first. The swell was breaking from Holtons, and peeling nicely down the line. However, the waves looked small, evident by the channel being wide open. We pressed on.

At Ehukai, there were already a few guys contemplating whether to go for it. We briskly walked to the beach to find... small waves. Apparently, the swell had peaked overnight and was disappearing fast. We quickly changed, grabbed our bodyboards and made a beeline to the water's edge.

Conditions were pretty good, albiet a bit cold, with increasing southeasteries blowing offshore. The sky was patchy, with the sun occasionally peaking through. The surf was a clean two-to-three, with a few four footers thrown in for good measure.

The lineup filled quickly with lots of visiting surfers--mostly Japanese nationals and Californians (I think). There was a sprinkle of international girls practicing for the women's world bodyboarding championship, along with a few local surfers/bodyboarders.

My first few rides were disastrous, with me taking off late and getting closed out. On my second wave, I got tumbled around on the inside and nailed my left elbow on the reef. Man, even tiny Pipeline can dish out the doughnuts.

Because of the north swing, Backdoor was being favored by the pack. Even though the sets were just overhead, the wave pitched out enough to give some riders a crisp, crouching barrel.

My best wave was on a head-high Backdoor set. I trimmed high on the takeoff and got covered up nicely. The wave let me out dry, then put a sweet lip in front of me, where I proceeded to launch a small air out into the flats. Nice!

Once on the flats, I knew that it was pretty shallow. So I banked a turn and rolled my body off my board to duck under the whitewater. Lucky thing, because after penetrating only about a foot of water, I brushed the reef with my hip.

Jerry got some really nice ones, too. For the first time ever, he tried the rights at Backdoor. Sitting deep on the Pipe side, he caught a set and rode it all the way through, sitting in the hook the whole way. It was so good, that 20 minutes after we left the water, he was still raving about it.

However, it wasn't all hunky dory out there. The visiting surfers were pretty aggressive and had no qualms about burning others. I hate sessions where I have to call off people who are taking off on the shoulder. Worse still, is when you call them off, but they drop in on you anyway.

In the past, I've done stupid things like yell at them and knock them off their boards. But that has only led to further anger and frustration. So in my infinite wisdom (and in my older age), I decided not to ruin my session by confrontation. I just took a step back and enjoyed the rides I could snag solo.

Eventually, we paddled over to Gums and caught a few lower-quality, but empty waves. I think that that was the most fun part of the session for me--hassling Jerry and doing the standup-boogie.

Barton Lynch made a great statement in "Surfers, the Movie." "If your avenue for getting away from everything becomes your avenue of stress at the same time, it gets confusing..."

Chillin' in Paradise,