The Personal Challenge -- 4/20/97

After my vacation, I got a bit under the weather (isn't it always the case?), forcing me to stay landlocked. I hadn't surfed since World Surf Day 97 (3/30/97), so I was achin' to get wet. When I finally regained some measure of health, I jumped at my first opportunity to surf.

On Sunday, my friend Jimmy and I headed out to the North Shore. There was supposed to be a swell arriving the day before, but there was still no sign of it. So I busted out my funboard, just for the heck of it.

Jimmy drove, so he chose Laniakeas as our destination, not because of the waves, but more for vehicular safety. Isn't it funny that your choice of surfspot has to be dictated by parking concerns. That's life, I guess.

We got there at 2 pm. The heating convection had long since turned the winds onshore, but it was still sunny and warm. The outside wave had a head-high peak with an occasional nice shoulder to work with. Good enough.

When we first paddled out, there were only a few people out, so we relished the emptiness. Jimmy and I broke unwritten rule #1 of surfing by talking loudly to each other in the lineup. The surf was mushy and reminded us of a typical day at Diamond Head. Still, we made the most of it, jawing each other out, and catching some fun ones in between.

Despite my pompous talk on the Net, I am *not* a good surfer. I can hold my own in bodyboarding, and I can stand on a surfboard, but as far as performing on a stick, well, let's just say I suck!

So when Jimmy paddled back out saying he had a five second tube ride (yeahright!), I laid down a personal challenge. My goal for the day was to do a frontside off-the-lip (I passed on the air-reverse-360). Jimmyís goal was to catch a good ride and not have to lie about it.

So the session went on with some very awkward riding. I tried vainly to do a decent snap, but the waves just didn't want to cooperate (neither did my body).

Finally after two hours, I dialed into a juicy one. The sets were peaking out near the channel towards Holtons, and I was the furthest one out. Got a clean takeoff, then focused on driving off the bottom turn. As I set up for the lip, a beginner longboarder landed right in my crosshairs. He was trying to paddle back out and was cringing on the shoulder, right in my line.

Well, of course I avoided him, but it blew my opportunity to do the off-the-lip. Damn! However, the rest of the wave lined up real nicely, leaving me with a workable wall. After a couple of pumps, I was able to throw the board up on the lip and snap it back down, just before the wave softly shut down. Mission accomplished!

I was so stoked, I immediately searched for Jimmy to see if he saw it. Fortunately, he was on the shoulder, and saw most of the ride. He thought I was going to run the guy over; but thatís not my style.

By the time we paddled back out, there were about twenty guys in the lineup. Where the hell did they all come from? So we decided to call it a day.

One of the best things about wave riding is that you don't have to be good to have fun. When bodyboarding, Iíve had times when I was stuck at a certain skill level. It was during those plateaus where I found that you can have just as much fun riding other things.

Constant high performance is nice, but constant improvement is even better.

Aloha from Paradise,