Busting My ARS -- 3/28/97

Jonesing for surf after two weeks of being landlocked, I decided to burn some leave and hit the water on Good Friday.

The sky was slightly overcast, with a hint of sideshore breeze buffeting the ocean surface. I knew it wouldn't last though--the forecast was for the winds to reach 25 mph.

The surf was in the 2-4' range, with a few larger ones. There were remnants of a north swell mixed with a new and very inconsistent west. This closed out a lot of the waves between Pipe and Off the Wall. Still, it was a sight for sore eyes.

I jumped in with a guy named Matt, a bodyboarder from the Big Island. It was his first time out at the place, but he showed no tentativeness. Kids nowadays are fearless.

We bounced between Pipe and Insanities, having the whole stretch to ourselves. Lots of people had a look, but went elsewhere to surf. Hmmm. Did they know something we didn't?

Conditions deteriorated as the morning progressed, with the winds picking up, and even a bit of rain coming down. But the surf still had some size, though you had to be very selective.

On one wave, I was paddling towards shore, going for this nice peak at Aint's. I distinctly remember thinking, "No worries, I'm going to catch this wave." All of a sudden, it jacked up and the bottom fell out. I had a moment of weightlessness before reconnecting with the water. Although I had lost a bit of speed, I was able to maintain trim just as the lip came down. It crashed next to me like wet cement as I tried to keep my line. A few seconds later, it unceremoniously spat me out. Tube of the day!

All of a sudden, the swell seemed to ebb. Matt bailed and went looking somewhere else, leaving me alone out there. There were lots of people at Ehukai, so I decided to paddle over and check it out.

It was smaller, only about head high, but the north swell was making for a long, peeling right over the sandbar to the beach. Not as critical as the earlier reef action, but it was looking mighty fun. I was on it!

I immediately recognized a couple of friends: Chris "Won Ton" Taloa and Kyle "Maligs" Maligro. Both are pro bodyboarders sponsored by Toobs Bodyboards.

I asked Chris about an injury I heard he got, and he just shook his head. In separate bodyboarding incidents, he had: cracked a vertebrae, bruised a couple ribs and dislocated his shoulder. Who said bodyboarding is a noncontact sport!?!

The doctor said water therapy is the best, which suits him fine. So Chris was out there doing his standup act on his bodyboard, ripping as usual.

Kyle, on the other had, was on his way home to Kauai, between surf trips. Later this year, he's going to follow the GOB (Global Organization of Bodyboarders) tour as they make a massive run from Japan to Reunion Island to South Africa. What a life!

In my mind, Kyle is unquestionable the most versatile bodyboarder I know. He can ride prone, dropknee and standup with equal aplomb. At the Schlitterbahn wave pool, he totally dominated the contest, winning hands down.

We played around for quite a while in the small surf. Just watching them surf was inspirational.

After several "standard" rides, I decided to try something a little different. For four years I have been wanting to try a maneuver called an ARS--Air Roll Spin (check out the Hawaiian Bodyboarder website to see how it's done). Made famous by Aussie madman Michael Eppelstun, it has become a standard maneuver among the top riders.

During all the time I knew about the move, I haven't even attempted it. In my mind, I thought it was too difficult for me, and the setup had to be just right. Well, today was going to be the day I would at least attempt it.

I caught this smallish wave and rode it to the inside. Just as the waist-high wave gave its final burp on the sandbar, I threw the board skyward in a standard el rollo. Before completing the roll, I looked over my shoulder and saw the whitewater below. That's when I twisted my body to spin.

Unfortunately, I spun right off my board, landing in the water with my board on my side. I had enough momentum to twist the board around, thus completing the maneuver. It was ugly, but I'll take it!

I farted around for a while longer before bailing. After four hours in the water, I was totally drained of energy (getting old). My necked ached, my torso had a wicked board rash, I got a bit of sunburn and I had some sinus congestion. In a word, I was stoked! Now, it was off to work.

Aloha from Paradise,