The Heat is On -- 6/14/97

Photos are candids from the contest day

There was a time in my life when I was a full-on contest animal. Chased points and plastic trophies for some hidden glory that always seemed to elude me. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to meet a lot good friends and supportive sponsors.

Nowadays I just don't have the time to compete regularly. Priorities change. Life goes on.

However, I do rekindle the competitive fires once a year for the Aloha State Games. Ever since its inception, I've been competing in the bodyboarding event of this multi-sport competition. The great things about the ASG is that the divisions are separated by age group, giving us "old men of the sea" an equal playing field.

Well, this weekend was the week Here's what went through my mind throughout the day:

Date: Saturday, 6/14/97
Contest Location: Pipe Littles, Sandy Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Event: Aloha State Games, Bodyboarding Event, 25-34 year age division.

5:50 - 6:45 am: Jumped in the water at Ala Moana Bowls for a practice session. There was a different contest there that weekend, so jockeying for waves was especially intense. Frustrated by the drop-ins, but it was a good way to get into the contest mindset.

6:45-7:20 am: Paddled back to shore, talked story with the contest director, then bailed to Sandys.

7:20-8:55 am: Practiced again at Pipe Littles--our event site. There were mostly kids in the lineup, so I had free run of the place. Since this was my only day of surf for the week, I bodyboarded with abandon, focusing on having fun, rather than practicing for the contest or reserving energy. Caught some really fun shoulder-high lefts that dumped onto the shorebreak.

8:55-10:35 am: Waited for the contest to start. Ate some candy and drank Gatorade. Talked story with a couple of friends who I was going to compete with. I've known these guys for years, so we are chummy both in and out of the water despite the understood antagonism during heats.

10:35-10:43 am: I found out our heat would be heading out next. I let my friends know, waxed my board, did some light stretching, and tried to clear my head of any extraneous thoughts. For the first time, I was assigned a bathing cap (baby blue) for identification instead of a jersey. I was stylin'!

After years of contests, I'd gotten to the point where I did not get stressed before heats. However, this time, I was feeling a bit nervous. Being away from competition had really changed my contest "tude."

10:43-10:45 am: We gathered near the judge's tent. I asked the contest director the rules--standard contest stuff: 20 minute, six man final, top three waves scored, twelve wave maximum, peak interference rule, medals for first through third. Judges were from the Honolulu Bodysurfing Club, so I didn't really know what they were looking for. Length of ride, number of maneuvers, one big blast, tubes? I guess I just had to charge.

Shook hands with all the competitors. One local guy starts getting extra friendly. By that time, I was trying to detach from the rest of the contestants, treating them more as opponents rather than a fellow bodyboarders. Took a mental note, then jumped in.

10:45-10:49 am: Just before the start of the heat, a great set came through, with me sitting the deepest. The judges finally blew the horn right after the set rolled through. F**k! So I waited.

10:49 am: (16:00 minutes left in the heat) After four minutes of waiting, I still hadn't caught a wave. A long time ago, I decided that I would live and die by the sets, catching just the required minimum, and trying to stay patient throughout the heat. Well, my patience was wearing real thin, when finally a decent wave pushed through. I took off easily, then pulled into a smooth trim, pumping a bit with the wave. As it reached the shorebreak, an oncoming tube section was closing it out. I cleanly rolloed on the lip right onto shore. Wave number one was in the books--count it.

10:52 am: The friendly local guy called me off on one. Begrudgingly, I let him take it, even though I didn't even want the wave. Contests will make you think like that.

10:53 am: (12:00 minutes left in the heat) Patiently waiting again, I scored a medium sized wave. However, the wave pitched a bit as it hit the reef, allowing for a brief coverup. I came out easily, then did a short carve. Ended up cutting back into the tube on the shorebreak. My best wave of the heat.

10:56-11:01 am: (9 - 4 minutes left) Sitting deepest, I pulled into two closeout waves. Had to go just to bar the competitors from taking off on the shoulder. Standard contest strategy.

After not making the last couple of waves, I finally decided to sit a bit further in, allowing one competitor to go deeper. Of course, right then a set swings in, giving him perfect positioning. I curse myself for allowing him to snake me, but knew that the other two closeouts set me up for this. Lost my patience. Grrrr!

Through this time frame, I saw all the other competitors catch smaller sets, while I waited desperately for my third scoring wave. It was really frustrating watching them catch waves, and not knowing how well they were performing on them. Maybe it was for the better.

11:02 am: (3 minutes left) I finally caught another wave: carve, spin, carve, closeout pull-in. Not very good, but it might have to count as one of my top three.

11:03 am (2 minutes left) A horn goes off, and the director announced that there were five minutes left in the heat. My guess was that they forgot to give us the five minute warning, so they tacked on a few more minutes. I paddled out to the peak and waited for a good one.

11:06 am (1 minute extra): I catch a weak, do-nothing wave. Worked it to the beach, but was pretty disappointed at my performance. Rushed out to look for one more.

11:09 am (four minutes extra): The horn blasted, ending the heat. I was still waiting outside for that one more wave that never came--I hate that. Dejectedly, I paddled in, knowing that I did not put out my best performance. I just hoped it was good enough.

12:31 pm: it was.

Aloha from the Aloha State Games