of just how good Hawaiian waves were hit me as I looked at two-foot nor'-east
slop at Avalon.
It had been just twelve days since I had left this miserable scene to fly to Hawaii.
I had been sitting with Russell on the plane trying to describe the difference of Hawaiian waves and trying to remember myself just how those waves made a surfer feel.
That no matter how good he was there would be a wave there that would make his eyes pop, and his body tremble as he contemplated the wipe-out.
Of course it could be the flat the whole time?
Impossible; I had seen only one or two flat days in all the times I visited.
There was the possibility one might wish for smaller waves if the North Shore was being pounded by close-out surf as it has been known to do.
Sure enough our
first day saw Sunset running at 12 foot while the Duke contest was in progress.
The standard of surfing was unreal.
Almost every surfer out there was riding the big waves the same way we tried to ride our little waves. Sutherland surfed as if possessed.
Strauch was smooth but fully operative with top-to-bottom climb and drop.
Downing must be getting close to forty but his surfing isn't.
There were so many kids out there completely at home in those waves.
Supposedly it only took time before one became used to these heavy conditions.
The wave itself was about three times thicker than anything I'd seen in a year.
Bells was a tinkler by comparison.
The wildest beach break, say Pupukea, was incredibly powerful- pretty soon physical condition came to mean more.
The boards that
worked so well in Sydney were now impotent pieces of foam and glass.
The tails were too wide-too much area between fin and rail to make a vital turn at high speeds. Russell looked good at Haliewa on a borrowed pintail- the same for McTavish at Sunset.
Borrowed it was- you couldn't buy a pintail on the island- every blank and finished board was accounted for.
Our first week
was spent at Pipeline living with Pete Peterson and waking each morning
to a roaring Banzai, never breaking under five feet and one morning as
high as fifteen.
Just twenty yards out from the beach, monstrous waves that never let up and would drown anything less than a fish, or someone who could swim like one.
We surfed three
places a day sometimes.
The swell was constantly changing its size.
In the morning it might be Haliewa, Velzyland at lunchtime and Chuns in the afternoon.
From first light till black of night we surfed.
I never felt the repetition one does at say Crescent or Byron.
These waves made you aware- you must move with speed and faultless timing.
The margin for error was nil when you had one of these thick beauties hovering on your shoulder.
Style in these waves was a result of what you did to ride the waves, not how you stood on the board. The waves offered so much challenge I'm sure some of the guys who ride them wouldn't dream of discriminating between individual approaches.
Sure Downing didn't try to make the wave every time-he was more than content to be enveloped by the shadow of the curl-like a racing driver's death wish.
and direction were untouchable.
You may fault him next year in one outdated surf movie but last Christmas he was above all on these fast waves.
It is the philosophy
of the surfers on the north shore, the ones who live there year round,
to be constantly searching out a better way to ride a bigger and fIl8~ave.
Philipe Pomar who lives there has attemp to improve his style in small waves so that he has a complete repertoire for the big surf.
He looks nothing like the World Champion of 1965.
Surfing in Hawaii
is generally not that friendly out in the water.
At Makaha or Haliewa there are those few who have complete domination of the waves and can make life unpleasant unless "you know someone".
At most of the
other beaches this atmosphere does not exist.
There are many surfers like unassuming Bobby Cloutier who seem to be there the minute a
particular break gets good, and then disappear when it goes off.
Ego is a big thing
but mainly between the surfer and the wave.
How could you compete with a person in these waves?
There were many places to surf, Rocky Point, Pipeline, Sunset, Laniakea and Piddlies, and only twelve days to do it in.
The sun shone most every day and the wind came off the land with the exception of two days.
There were many
surfers there, some you will never see on movies.
Guys like John Boozer from California, who did so well at Rocky Point.
Barry Kaniapunia, who can penetrate a curl from just about any direction.
For these guys it's a quiet way of life with a lot of action in the water.
I can't wait till next year.
Untitled (Winter in Hawaii, 1967).
Vol. 1. No. 4
December1968 - January 1968 page 9.