The Hype -- 8/2/97

I was disappointed when I saw this! (so spoiled, huh?)

Monday, 7/28/97, a rumor from a friend:
"... the south should see waves up to 10 feet on Thursday."

Tuesday, 7/29/97, surf forecast excerpt:
"South Shores see 1-3' backs to mid week. 3-4' SW swell shows Thursday and builds to 6-8'+ Friday through the weekend. WNW swell possible Friday. WINDS: 15kts through mid week."

Wednesday, 7/30/97, Kim Gennaula, KGMB weatherperson:
" for a possible increase out of the south later in the week..."

Thursday, 7/31/97, Surf News Network:
"... the surf is on the rise and should be at least six feet tomorrow..."

Friday, 8/1/97, 0800, NWS Surf Observations:
"Ala Moana 3 to 4 ocnl 5... surf along south and southwest shores will be 3 to 5 feet increasing to heights of 4 to 6 feet occasional 8 feet later today and Saturday..."

Saturday was my surf day, and it looked like I was going to catch this swell right at its peak! I was so stoked, I could barely sleep the night before.

Woke up early to hit Jimmylands (the secret spot) at dawn. B-ball buddy Russ was joining me, along with Westside Web guru Lance and his dad. It would be another one of those real-life meetings for me with a fellow netizen (Lance).

After some initial difficulties getting to the place, I hooked up with Lance and his father. Despite the orange hair, Lance was a cool guy, fully committed to bodyboarding and longboarding. His father was just as enthused, and he had a very familiar mannerism (I'd like to think Outer Island folk like myself can relate to Westsiders better than Townies).

I was jumping out of my skin to get in the water, and since Russ was a bit late, we started out without him. Selfishness overpowered politeness. Actually, Russ arrived on the scene just moments afterwards and quickly joined us.

When we finally got a good look at the surf, it was... well, let's just say I was sorely disappointed. Instead of double-overhead perfection, we found windblown shoulder-to-head high chop. There were bigger sets, but they were few and far-between, and sliced and diced by the quickening trades.

Of course, we had a go of it anyway, making the most of the situation. Even though it was good waves by most people's standards, I'm always frustrating when I have high expectations, then get let-down.

I got into a conversation with one of the regulars and he said that the evening before, the surf was macking in the double-o range. I was sick about missing it, until he told me about the crowd--there were more than 30 guys splitting one peak! So much for Jimmylands being a secret spot. Also, the vibe was pretty cutthroat, with lots of drop-ins and frustration between people riding boards of varying lengths.

But on to the session at hand. Lance had his drop-knee attack down, catching some nice faces, along with a few prone coverups on the inside. His dad really impressed me with his wave savvy, sponging some good ones, with a style reminescent of some seasoned paipo-boarders I know. And Russ had a really positive session catching a lot of waves, and this time keeping his contacts in place.

For me, it was a pretty forgettable sesh, with very few good rides. It just wasn't my day. I did catch a neat one at the other side of the channel. I managed to paddle into it at its overhead peak, and trimmed for about 10 yards before finally getting over its second ledge. I did a short fade as a small bowl section began to form, then managed to get a quick little splashy coverup before making it to the wall. Rode the thing for about 50 yards before kicking out.

Rather than sulk about missed opportunities, I'll point out some little highlights that made the session unique:

  • After one particularly gnarly set wave rumbled through the outside lineup, I found myself punching through the whitewater, then being surrounded by the foam. My attention suddenly focused on the sounds, as the fizz of millions of tiny bubbles (ala Don Ho) popped furiously around me like a pool of Dom Perignon. Kewl!

  • Some fishermen had laid a gill net right near the lineup in the channel. When four (loud) longboarders came out, they proceeded to wrap up the net right around the channel marker, since it was right in their line of attack. I don't know who was more uncool--the people who put it there, or the surfers who moved and tangled it. Hmmm...

  • As we were walking back, we saw a fisherman casting over a big dark cloud in the water. It looked like a round reef in the milky water, but he said it was a school of sardines. I had a hard time believing it until the dark spot suddenly scattered open right down the middle. Trippy.

  • Lance's dad got a wicked sting on the arm, probably from an infamous box jellyfish (check Honolulu Star Bulletin's "Tourists Take Stings in Stride" for the jellyfish story). He must've gotten a bit of an allergic reaction, because he started feeling some tingling on his chest and his arm got welted pretty badly. Fortunately, he came through fine. Auwe!
High expectations can be a real bummer. Don't get me wrong, I love today's technology of having the ability to forecast surf conditions in advance. It's just that once the mainstream media find out about oncoming swells, they tend to overhype it and get everyone all fired up. Then it's always such a let-down when the swell is not as great as predicted. I guess sometimes, it's better not knowing.

P.S. Found out later from Ben Aipa that the swell had a strong east component to it. Thus, lots of spots did not get the full force of the swell. My fault for not doing my homework. :-/

Aloha from Paradise,