It's a Tradeoff -- 3/16/97

Woke up late after a night on the town ("I must be getting old"). Got to Ehukai at 7:15 and found bright skies, calm winds and good surf. I literally ran for the water, like a kid bailing school for the summer.

The surf was about 2-3' with some bigger ones on the low tide, and Backdoor was lining up nicely. There were only about eight guys out--light crowd for so late in the morn.

Because of the clean, relatively safe conditions, practicing my weak tuberiding act was the order of the day. When it comes to the Green Room, I just don't have that touch that so many bodyboarders seem to possess naturally.

I was having a great time, catching more than my share of waves, when this semi-well-known local paddled into the lineup. Immediately the atmosphere stiffened as he asserted his presence.

I was sitting deep, going for a wave, when he yelled, "Doomo," (thanks, in Japanese) before paddling right in front of me and taking the wave. He thought I was a tourist from Japan! That's about as demeaning as having the ladies of the night in Waikiki proposition me in Japanese.

Rather than take off and challenge him, I decided to back off. I felt like a spineless kook, but experience has taught me that confrontation with his kind would only lead to grief.

To add more insult to insult, a few waves later, the same guy blatantly dropped in on me again. I was left to straighten out and fight the current back out. In his mind, I was just a sponger from Japan with no right to be in *his* lineup.

My only consolation was that the bruddah was jumping between OTW and Backdoor, so he wasn’t around all the time. That gave me pretty much free reign of the peak when he left.

But the session wasn't all doom and gloom. On the contrary, it actually was damned good.

After several pull-ins that shut down on me, I finally dialed into a slightly overhead beauty. Early entry allowed for a gradual bottom turn, which let me gain a good trim high on the face. I propped my body way up on my bodyboard, with my hip bone near the center. My window to the world became a swirling teardrop for a couple seconds before the wave backed off, allowing for a clean exit. It was satisfying, although I still feel it was more my takeoff positioning rather than skill that helped me ride it successfully.

On another one, I was faced with a wedging lip and launched a fat one into the sky. After rising well above the whitewater, I glanced down and saw every crack and crevice in the imposing reef. I remembered thinking, "Omigod, I still gotta land this thing."

It was much too shallow to bail, so I stretched my left leg down to help break my fall. Landing in the flats, the impact was jarring ("Man, I'm really getting old"), and bounced me around and off my board. Fortunately, I was able to curl my back before penetrating the water, saving me from a faceplant into the reef. I truly believe that knowing how to wipeout is an invaluable skill (and I've had a lot of practice in that department).

Ideally, surfing is a pleasurable interaction with nature, best shared with a few friends. Unfortunately, we don't live in Utopiaville. To enjoy great waves, you sometimes have to deal with animosity and adversity.

Like everything else in life, it's a tradeoff. What are you willing to put up with?

Aloha from Paradise,