Mixed Plate
World Surf Day '97

Everyone who contributes or lurks in the alt.surfing newsgroup was invited to participate in World Surf Day '97. Surfers around the globe were asked to hit the beach anytime on the weekend of March 29 & 30 1997, then turn in a session report. The results would be collated and some awards would be announced. Here's my contribution:

Date: Easter Sunday, 3/30/97
Time: 0840-0925
Location: Queens, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii, USA
Distance Searched: 50 miles round trip
Weather: Sunny, clear skies, light side/offshore winds
Air Temperature: About 78
Water Temperature: About 74
Conditions: Smooth and fairly glassy with clear water
Crowd: About eight or ten people out, with about 50 at neighboring Canoes
Food: Pre: portuguese sausage, eggs and rice; Post: Coke, manapua and pork hash
Vehicle: To get there: Honda Civic 4dr; To ride waves: 10' Tuberider Surfboards longboard rental
Swell: small windswell wrap
Surf: The radio called it flat to a foot, waist-high peeling rights on the infrequent sets.
Comments: See below

Waikiki Memories (WSD97) -- 3/30/97

Woke up late on Easter Sunday. My wifey cooked up a great portuguese sausauge-eggs-and-rice breakfast--a Hawaiian staple. We were going to go to the beach as a family, but my daughter had a touch of the cold. So I gave myself two hours to drive out, surf, and get home, just to participate in World Surf Day '97.

I called the surf report and found that all shores were running at three feet or less. So I decided to do something unique and go to the place where our sport got started--Waikiki Beach.

Although the North Shore has garnered all the attention of the surfing world, the real roots of surfing began on the beaches of Waikiki. That's where the beach boys (no, not the musical group) introduced the sport to the wealthy visitors and celebrities. That's where the legendary Duke Kahanamoku made his incredible mile-long ride from Outside Castles to Canoes. That's where I was going to surf on World Surf Day '97.

I blasted out there through the light holiday traffic in my Honda Civic--the perfect surfmobile. Made a few loops around the block in search of free roadside parking before I relented and parked in a pay garage.

I jogged past the surfboard lockers, the satellite police station, the statue of the Duke, and right onto the beach. At 8:30 am, there already was a fair amount of tourist on the sand.

I wanted to go authentic and ride a longboard, but I don't own one right now. Fortunately, the beach boy rentals were open for business on the holiday. I chose one vendor out of the blue and rented a board for $8/hour--a 10' Tuberider Surfboards tanker. That thing must've had 100 oz glass on both sides; it weighed a ton!

Recognized one of the beach boys at the stand. It was Glenn Kalakukui, a renegade surfer from Kauai. I had him take a picture of me, just like a Japanese tourist (!).

Conditions were excellent, with clear, sunny skies. The winds were light, with a side/offshore flow. The surf, however, was a meager flat-to-one foot. Didn't matter--just the idea of sharing a global surf was worth getting wet for. Anyway, it's not the size that matters (or so I'm told). :-)

I paddled out to Queens, a popular spot among the locals. The four guys sitting outside were definitely "da bulls" of the lineup--they caught all the waist-high sets. One guy looked like Jamma Kekai, Rabbit's brother.

I stayed just inside them, catching their scraps. Still, I managed to snag a lot of waves in the short time I was out there. Most waves barely peeled, with lot of them were just peaking and flattening without breaking.

My wave of the day came as I was paddling back out from a ride. A really nice, wedging right, maybe waist-high, came through, with a couple of guys coming up short from catching it. I swung the tanker around just in time to take off with the lip. As I rode ahead of the whitewater, I tried bringing the board back into the soup.

Unfortunately, you can't turn a longboard if you're standing right smack in the middle. My body just fell off, but I tried to maintain my feet on the board and recover ala Kelly Slater. Somehow, my body ended up right under the board and I inadvertently did the old "dead cockroach." I sat up and finished the ride sitting on my butt, laughing.

The long lulls between sets gave me a chance to reflect on my personal memories of surfing in Waikiki. I rarely surf there during free surfs (too many tourists), but competed there regularly during my long, and not-so-illustrious amatuer bodyboarding career.

I had one of my best contest results surfing that very spot about seven years ago. It was during the Local Motion Surf Into Summer contest, one of the biggest amateur events in the world. I managed a third against a huge field of bodyboarding contestants. Didn't feel too bad about not winning, because the two guys ahead of me (Joey Vieira and Ray McCloud) were rippers who eventually turned pro.

A couple years later, I was doing a free surf on my friend's 10' tanker. Lance Hookano (of Malibu punch-out fame), paddled over, and asked to use my friend's board for his contest heat. We swapped boards, and and I ended up dinging his cherry T&C longboard on a tourist's board (he was in the way!). Lance was pissed, and wanted to beat up the tourist. I didn't have the heart to admit that it was partly my fault.

A year later, I was stuck in Waikiki (a long story in itself) without my bodyboarding gear during a huge souths swell. I decided to rent a longboard and give it a try, even though I was still a kook at riding surfboards. Caught some of the biggest waves I ever surfed up until that time--way overhead. I remember having no problem getting into the wave, but had a hell of a time trying to turn the stupid board. I guess some things never change.

Recovering from my daydreaming, I realized that my water time was running short. I ended up paddling in after 45 minutes of riding the mini wavelets.

On my way back, I stopped to fill gas and grabbed a Big Gulp, manapua and pork hash (I bet Hawaii has the only 7-11s that sell Chinese dim sum). Zipped home just after 10 am to be greeted by my beautiful wife and daughter. Total elapsed time: 1 hour, 58 minutes.

I hope the rest of the alt.surfing crew scored some good waves. Even though I didn't, I still had a great time participating in the event. Being at the source made it extra-special.

Sometimes when you go surfing, you make memories. This time, I was satisfied just to relive a few of them.

Aloha from Paradise,