New Year’s Northwest Swell Arrives
Great day at the Bay as a New Year’s Northwest swell arrived, providing thrills, chills and a circus-like atmosphere. Sunday swells are a challenge. More people are off-work, and everyone has the same great idea on how to spend their day-off. Combine that with 6 to 10-foot waves and you’ve got a recipe for fun, or disaster. My son and his friends had the “great idea” for me. Wake up early, fix lunch, and drive them up to Honolua. It’s not that I mind going there, and getting these shots, but before you arrive there, you have no idea how conditions are. Sometimes, we make the 1-hour drive for 15-minutes of fun.
Four guys launch at the same time. Since this is a right, technically, it’s the guy on our rights wave.
There are a number of things that interest me about surfing. Surf etiquette is one. It’s the Wild West out there, but there’s not a lot of blood-shed. They have a sort of “code of the waves.” All the surfers and bodyboarders are in the water. The wave arrives. Who gets the wave? Unwritten, but acknowledged rules dictate that the surfer who gets up, closest to the white water gets the wave. In the picture above, the wave is moving to our left, so the surfer/bodyboarder on the far right, should get the wave. The other three, are “dropping in” on his wave. Drop in on too many waves and you’ll get at least “stink-eye,” or at worst punched by the other surfers.
This guy stayed, the rest either wiped out or dropped out.
Survival of the fittest, divine right, carpe diem, YOLO or plain “luck.” Some guys get more waves than others, either they are really good at catching waves that others can’t get, or they are “bombing,” dropping in on any wave they can. Also, there is the matter of skill. If you are sponsored, then people will give you a pass. Whatever the pecking order, this guy stayed on the wave and made a great ride of it.
Bodyboarders are nearly matching surfers in numbers. Recently, Mike Neal, photographed them at Peahi (Jaws).
Bodyboarders vs. Surfers. The surfers and bodyboarders had nearly the same numbers at Honolua on Sunday. My son prefers bodyboarding. I like the look of a good surfer moving through the water. In my opinion, it is the more difficult “sport.” Of course, as my son points out, I only bodyboard when I can touch the bottom and basically fall forward to get the wave. Like “monster-truck” rallies and “jackass” movies, bodyboarding is here to stay and now they bring tricks into the mix. For a surfer to grab his board, while standing on it, is so difficult, that only pros do it consistently. Virtually “all” bodyboarders grab their boards, otherwise, you fall off. So, the current style is to carve down the wave and then shoot back up to the lip of the wave, where instead of turning down again, extending the ride, you let yourself jump the lip of the wave. Now airborn, you can perform whatever tricks your body will allow. Check this out.
The degree of the difficulty-meter notwithstanding, this changes the game. Flying bodies. Will there be helmets involved? I think so, but no one will wear one for awhile. There you are, minding your own business, paddling out, duck-diving, coming to the surface, minding your own business. Wham! you’re slammed from above, by a flying, 160-pound high-school student. Well, things have a way of working themselves out in the water, just don’t let the government get involved.
There are seven people in this frame, a little crowded.
The northwest swell hung around for New Year’s day, and then there’s another one due to arrive on Friday. As long as it’s not a Sunday, we’ll be okay. To see the rest of the pictures, please visit my Facebook page.