Suicidal Tendencies -- 8/16/97

Jimmy, styling at dawn

I hate Suicides. It's a predominant left that breaks just around the corner from Diamond Head proper. Suicides actually gets the wrap of the wrap of tradewind swells coming around the point, so its always a peg lower in size. The only things going for the spot is that it's a bit more sheltered from the trades than Cliffs and Lighthouses, and there's usually less of a crowd out. The fact that I'm a regularfoot and can't surf backside very well adds to my despise of the place. And I have never seen the place really go off.

My bud Jimmy thinks otherwise. He loves the spot, practically grew up riding there, and has seen the spot fire on occasion. Of course, being a goofy who hates crowds plays into his love for the place in no small part.

So it was with a bit of apprehension that I asked Jimmy to go surfing at Diamond Head with me. I knew that when push came to shove for choosing a spot, he'd opt for Suicides. Me, I just wanted to ride some decent waves to try out my new longboard. Working it exclusively on the backside just did not appeal to me.

I was going to hook up with Jim Opdyke, a netsurfer from SoCal, but he had to meet his girlfriend early in the morn. However, he happened to have surfed Suicides during the week and said it was decent, but getting progressively smaller... down to knee-high level. Not too promising.

Saturday morning came and I went to pick up Wade and Jimmy. Wade, another coworker of mine, would be considered a very recreational bodyboarder, surfing once every blue moon. Somehow, we managed to coax him out with us on this early dawn session.

The morning ambiance was pretty ominous. The past few days had seen a few waterspouts pop up near the islands, as unstable variable conditions prevailed. The tradewinds were supposed to pick up during the day, but it was still a bit funky. Tiny sheets of lightning silently sparked on the horizon as we made our way to Diamond Head. A portent of some kind, maybe?

We got to Suicides and looked for signs of surf. Couldn't see much through the darkness, so I suggested we check Diamond Head proper.

Right up the road, we were surprised to find ten cars, with surfers already waxing up and preparing to go out. The surf looked decidedly bigger, but the crowd was likewise so. I really wanted to go out there, but you know where Jimmy wanted to go.

Toiling in my mind, I tried to weigh the virtues of each break: more wave size and bigger crowd vs. less size and smaller crowd. Grumpily, I told everyone that we would be going to Suicides. Jimmy was apologetic and said that we could surf at Diamond Head, but in my heart, I knew that getting good waves would be much harder there.

So Suicides was the call. We parked along the residential street, waxed up, then made our way to the park and onto the beach. The paddle out was long, but refreshing, with dawn creeping in.

Between the three of us, we had the full complement of wave riding vehicles. I busted out my new Aipa tank, Jimmy had a thin 6'6" T&C and Wade was trying out one of my older Custom X bodyboards. Don't you wish we could coexist like this all the time?

Waves were only about waist-high, but conditions were clean. The lefts had peaky walls that you could ride for a fair distance. There were some short rights to be had, with a few pitching lips.

Absorbing the beauty of dawn was probably the highlight of the morning. The unstable conditions generated dark clouds that loomed high up in the sky. However, as the sun peaked through and the trades started kicking in, a freshness came into the air. It was a transitional time where conditions were switching by the moment. The dawn lightshow was brilliant and awe-inspiring.

I immediately raced out to the far point and tried out the new board. Ben Aipa said that it was designed as a 50/50 board -- 50% conventional and 50% traditional. Dimensions were: length--9'0", width--22", nose--17", tail--14.5", thickness--2 7/8". The board was highly maneuverable, but still had enough buoyancy on the nose for me to pose on. I couldn't really do much, especially going backside, but felt the potential. I was just projecting in my mind how this board would ride in the winter in medium-sized Makaha.

Wade did the boogie thing, choosing the short, perky rights. He even got a small coverup that Jimmy kept raving about. As for Jimmy, he caught some long ones with his toothpick of a board, doing his Gerry Lopez cruising stance.

For the first hour, we had the spot all to ourselves. Eventually, a couple of other guys joined us, and it really changed the vibe of the lineup. You could feel an air of tension as subtle competition came into play. We were spoiled by the initial solitude.

Jimmy, who is in the market for a tank himself, has been talking about riding my new board more than I have. Halfway through the session, we swapped boards. Jimmy did very well on it, noting that longboarding was a totally different surfing experience. He caught a good, chest-high set and stalled (unintentionally), then did a "shoot-the-tube" pose right in front of me. It just cracked me up.

When I caught waves using his shortboard, I again went into hysterics. His board was actually less buoyant than my bodyboards, as it submerged under my weight. I could catch waves pretty easily (with my H2Odyssea paddling gloves--plug!), but once on, I felt like a flapping freak. It was so squirrelly and responsive, and seemed to slice through the waves rather than ride on them.

Eventually, I started finding the sweet spot stance for the board and managed a few weak turns. It really made me appreciate the delicacy and sensitivity of shortboard riding. However, I quickly realized that this nervous riding style, though fun in small doses, is just not quite for me. Maybe if I was 20 years younger...

Trading back up to my tank, I was totally out of synch with the longboard, wiping out on the next few rides. I had lost touch with the board.

Right then, a shoulder-high set came through, and I went for it. As I paddled into it, the wave suddenly jacked up a bit, leaving me in a "Pearl-Jam" situation. So I did the only thing I could do--I proned it on the takeoff. Scrambling up to my feet, I made it to the open face and got two fun top-turns before kicking out in the channel. My wave of the sesh.

After three hours, we finally made our slow paddle back in. We were all expended of our physical energy, but at the same time were recharged and refreshed on another level. Despite the tiny conditions, it was a satisfying session and a good inaugural flight for my tank. Yep, I like Suicides... :-)

Aloha from Paradise
(not always big and perfect; but with the right place, crew and attitude, always fun)