Paying Your Dues -- 1/25/97

We were headed east on H1 on Saturday morning, and I was still unsure as to where to go to surf. The forecast was for the big NNW swell to taper a bit to maybe 6-8' plus. The Westside probably wouldn't get too much of the wrap, the North Shore might be too big for us, and the Eastside might not even pick up the swell angle. What to do?

At the last moment, I swerved the car onto H2 and headed for the North Shore. "Let's take our chances," I told Jerry.

Arriving at Pipeline, we were mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the moment. Although the sky was totally overcast, a full moon glowed through, illuminating the shimmering water. Beautiful swells were pouring in and folding into sweet barrels that spat with authority.

It looked manageable, but the rest of the shoreline gave us the full reality check. From Pipe to Rocky's there was no break in the whitewater--it was just one churning mass of shorebreak. "It must be big," I told Jerry.

I was nervous about the size, but dying to get into the big stuff. Jerry, however, (who has only been bodyboarding seriously for less than a year!) was a bit more tentative. I decided to make a go of it and suited up, and Jerry followed my lead.

Once on the beach, however, I realized what kind of playing field we were looking at. A couple of bodyboarders had paddled out and put the wave size into perspective. It turned out the forecast was pretty accurate, with the sets running in the double-overhead range.

However, because of the northerly swell direction, the little crease that you paddle out through was really small. I was hoping that Jerry might be able to get into the channel, then shoulder-hop a few, but just paddling out would be a challenge.

So I told Jerry that he might not want to go out. Being the nice guy that he is, Jerry insisted that I paddle out and catch some while he waited on shore. So I went.

The rip was running pretty strong, and I nearly missed the crease. But I managed to get outside without incident. I promptly positioned myself deepest so I could try and catch a few at Backdoor, as well as at Pipe.

Before my guilt caught up with me, I caught four nice waves. The first was a nice one at Backdoor which bounced me skyward on my bottom turn. The second was a small Pipe face. Wave number three was a Pipe fburner, taking off deep and trimming for a long way before getting totally encased in the last section. I was so stoked, I claimed it when I came out of the tube. I took wave four to the beach--a nice Backdoor right that peeled all the way into OTW lefts where I did a somewhat weak floater/re-entry.

The morning was still young, so we hit it to Laniakeas, hoping that Jerry could also partake in the fun. It was pretty big there too, but the wide open channel would give us a better sense of security.

Lani's proper has three distinct peaks. When conditions are right, you can sometimes catch it through all three (I've never done it). We positioned ourselves somewhere between the first and second peak. It was a bit smaller here, and more choppy, but there were still some good waves to be had.

Jerry had a really difficult time lining up for the waves. There was always an odd set that swung out into the channel, and this kept us from sitting in the regular takeoff zone. To top it off, a strong current was pulling us out and eastward, so we had to really be aware of where we were.

Unlike Pipeline, Lani's sometimes feathers and backs off (like Haleiwa), making the takeoff really hard to do. I've surfed a lot of different spots, so I could adjust, but Jerry had a tough time with it.

For him, it was an exhausting day of cat and mouse, getting caught inside on several sets, taking one particularly nasty one right on the head. But I give him credit--he was out there trying.

I worked hard for my waves too, but managed to snag a few good ones. I caught one with a really nice wall, doing two dopey-looking tail-popping cutbacks. The inside section bowled up and gave me a really deep barrel. After riding inside for a while, I tried straightening out through the curtain, but the wave actually shoved me back into the tube. The last vision I had was this distinct stream of water pouring down in front of me, within the tube curtain. The tumbles followed.

By the end of the session, we were pretty drained. I was satisfied, but I know Jerry didn't catch very many waves. Still, when I asked him whether he thought his session was a success or failure, he called it a success (in his usual cheerful manner).

One year ago, he wouldn't have even dreamed of surfing those sized waves. Now, he's pushing his limits and gaining lots of wave knowledge along the way. That's how you go to the next level.

Sometimes just being out in the water is enough. But you gotta pay your dues once in a while.

Aloha from Paradise, stickman
P.S. Took some pictures at Laniakea. Will post later.