Returning the Favor -- 7/9/97

Went home to Kauai for the Fourth of July weekend so I didnít get a chance to surf. Heard that another out-of-season WNW swell hit the islands, getting up to five feet (Hawín). I was bummed.

So, after getting proper authorization from my boss (da wife), I decided to have a mid-week surf sesh after work with coworker Jerry. We also invited two people visiting from Japan, whom I had corresponded with on the Net, to join us.

We all met up at Diamond Head in the mid-afternoon. Our Japanese friend, Kohei, was here studying for a big examination, and he wanted to get away from the stressful Japan library environment (yeah, right!). So he and his girlfriend Kiko came to Hawaii for a couple months to relax and prepare.

Even though Iím of pure Japanese ancestry, I embarrassed to say I donít know very much of the language. Fortunately, they both spoke English fairly well. After a bit of tentativeness, we got through the initial niceties and got down to the business at hand--surfing!

Iíd been dying to get a longboard for small summer surf sessions. Hoping to make a deal, I called master shaper Ben Aipa and he was gracious enough to loan me a board to try out. I was styling with a 9íx 22.5"x 3" longboard thruster.

The winds had been kicking for over two weeks, and remained strong in the 10-25 mph range. Thus a decent windswell was coming in with a strong sideshore flow. Sets were well overhead, although most walls quickly tapered down to the chest high level.

Lighthouses had a pretty tight takeoff area, and the Koko Head side of Cliffs was being criss-crossed by launching windsurfers, so we sat ourselves right in between. It was a busy lineup, but the crowd was evenly sprinkled around because of the peaky conditions.

Jerry was trying to learn how to surf on his newly purchased funboard (sold to him by none other than "moi"). The conditions were quite a challenge to him, but he stubbornly kept trying, managing a few decent rides. Kiko mostly sat on the outside, but she dialed into some of the bigger sets on her bodyboard. And Kohei did very well on his 6í1", catching several really long rights to the inside reef.

As for me, I was being my usual wavemonger self, especially so with the extra foam. I was kooking in the beginning, but eventually found the boardís paddling sweet spot, and caught some nice ones. Riding a good performance longboard felt soooo good!

I got one decent, semi-bowling chest-high wall and tried braking on the tail to stall. Needless to say, it didnít work too well, pop-wheelee-ing nine feet of foam and fiberglass, but it was worth a try.

All in all, it was a fun session despite having to work hard for our waves. Although we didnít get a chance to really get acquainted with our friends from Japan, it was enjoyable just hanging out together.

I know how it feels to enter into a foreign lineup, and believe me, its a lot more fun when you have a local friend to cruise with. Anyway, after all my travels, it feels good to return the favor. Now, if only Ben would give me a deal on the longboard...

Aloha from Paradise,