A few days ago I went out to see part of the Volcom Pro at Pipeline. It was my first time there and I have to admit that there was a strange anticipation in my limbs as I rode the rusty mountain bike along the shady bike path that parallels Kam Hwy. I passed Ken Bradshaw and he gave me a smile, but because I am dumb about these things, and it wasn't until my friend Andy pointed it out to me that I realized I was in the midst of surf celebrity. Next we walked right by Kelly Slater who was sitting in a truck talking to some or another surfer.
The Volcom Pipe Pro was being held, at least for a few hours that day. The holding period is until Feb 4th... But on Saturday the waves were too big, too chaotic and to unruly to safely hold a contest, so they called it off after a handful of heats. We watched a few heats and marveled at the gutsy surfers who took off on wonky, big Pipeline... the swell that day was supposed to be around 8 feet, but ended up getting to 23 feet by the end of the day.
The amazing thing about Pipeline is that you can stand close to the action, even when it is huge.
Today I ventured out to Waimea Bay and watched the scene. It's a classic Hawaiian set up: white sand, huge waves, lava rock cliffs, beautiful palm tress, doves in the sky, rainbows in the clouds, and the sun cresting the mountains behind you as you take in the power of the sea. It's hard to get perspective at Waimea because the whole thing is happening farther away from you, but in case you need a reminder of what kind of intensity the ocean promises, the shore break there is probably 10 to 12 feet tall and shakes the beach as it thunders in. By 7 am there were close to 25 people in the water with more filing onto the beach with 10 foot guns. Some stand and watch with what I imagine is trepidation. Others just leash up, wait for a pause in the neck-breaking shore-pound and then charge out there. You don't realize how big the waves are until you see someone drop in and then imagine stacking that person's height again and again until you get to the top of the wave. Three or four persons tall, is what I imagined the wave to be... Somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 to 24 foot faces. Yeah!
I am impressed and humbled. This doesn't even feel like the same pass time that I love. In fact, it is not. I am a small wave lover. I will return to Oregon next week and surf my cold, 4-7 foot waves with a new respect for the birthplace of surfing, and a renewed love for my simple life on the Pacific Ocean.