Archive for April, 2008

Dont try this at home!

news, surf No Comments

This might not seem particularly likely, but the heaviest and probably the best wave in Brighton exists just a few meters from the club. But its probably also the most dangerous and certainly the least frequent.

Very occasionally (like last Monday, 31st March) a clean swell from the south (at high tide) or east sweeps around the West of the Marina and jacks up on the concrete slab adjacent to the wall. When this happens, you get a super steep takeoff into very shallow water. This is really not recommended, as your pretty likely to hit the marina wall or the concrete slab - but it can be done.

For some reason, I only ever seem to get pictures on a cameraphone

31st March - Marc is right at the lip, about to drop. You can see head, paddle and bow of the Neutron. Carnage followed.

The last time I surfed this spot, back in early 2005.from Tobins cameraphone.

Surfing in Hawaii, early 2008..

Trip Reports, surf No Comments

Caroline and I were lucky enough to have a month in Hawaii. 2 weeks on the North Shore of Kuaui, followed by 2 weeks in Eastern Maui in a wonderful remote town called Hana. While this wasnt a surf trip (there was also the minor detail of us getting married ), I took my surf kayak and managed to get on the water around an hour a day.

Hawaii has historically been seen as a rite of passage for the top board surfers in the world - everywhere I surfed deserved a large amount of respect and thought, particularly being a lone boater on the North Shore in the Winter.

* The surf is powerful and the standard of surfing the highest on the planet. You need to be really sure of your roll, the way youll get out of difficult situations (what happens if I swim?), and totally confident with your ability to be safe around others - you need to be totally in control, able to avoid collisions in heavy / crowded conditions, and know the rules. Absolutely no dropping in, although some of the locals might (nothing personal, they do it to everyone from time to time) and a smile and hello always worked.
* Did I say the standard was high? I saw 2 of the Top 5 pro surfers in the world, Andy Irons (a Kauai local) and Joel Parkinson in the space of a week in Kauai. You wont paddle out straight to the peak and dazzle anyone with your moves, but you will get some nice comments and respect if you behave modestly and respectfully, show your safe, and then hit some big moves.
* Kuaui was paradise. The weather was a stable 23 degrees for two weeks with constant long-distance swell between about 6 and 14 feet. Kuaui is a genuine, friendly place with many surfers absolutely intrigued to see a kayak being thrown around like a shortboard. If you stay in Hanalei then there are a bunch of spots very close by dependent upon conditions; Hanalei Bay Point (one of the best waves in the world - you can ride hundreds of yards, with varying sections from super fast down-the line races, softer rippable shoulders, and pitching lips), Lumahai beachbreak (when the sandbars and swells are right, is likened to pipeline by the locals - even on a small swell this place barrels in really shallow water), Cannons, Rock Quarry, Kealia, Gas Chambers, Pine Trees all within 20 minute drive.
* Maui is also beautiful but less welcoming. On the North Shore, its really competitive and you need to be careful. When I finally got up the confidence to paddle out at Hookipa (just a mile or so from the world famous bigwave spot of Jaws), it was pretty intimidating and crowded - not a place to drop in or swim. We stayed in Hana, on the East Coast (a pretty hairy 2.5 hour drive from the waves on the North) which was pretty secluded and not so consistent for waves - in fact, we didnt see any swell over a foot or two in ten days. Hana is a fantastically local, unspoilt place to escape and enjoy nature and time - and it can be classic for surf, just not this time.

Perfect, tiny, shorebreak barrels at Lumahai - also the scene of our wedding a few days later;

Heavy shorebreak at Pine Trees (Kauai). When the point is firing double-overhead at Hanalei, this place can be going off with heavy barrels. Standard of juniors surfing here is world class.

Hanalei Bay Point is one of the finest waves in Hawaii. Between 1 and 3.5 meters, you can ride shoulder to triple overhead walls for hundreds of yards (if your quick enough). On a single wave, you can run for your life to make a section, hit a couple of airs, get covered up a couple of times and annihilated in the bowl to finish. I dont have many pictures of this finest wave because; 1) Its over quarter of a mile out to sea 2) I generally surfed at dawn when Caroline was in bed.

She got these couple of pictures when I paddled out alone (there was no-one else out there when I paddled out) with a 4 meter swell. The waves were breaking with 20 foot faces, and the spot was totally out of control. I caught one ride (the ride of my life - a 100 yard race across the reef, triple overhead), then got destroyed as I paddled back out.

Im in the foam pile here, I was fortunate to get away with this and headed straight back to the beach.

Lumahai was out favorite spot. It has tiny little barrels right up against the beach. I broke my boat here but had a blast.

A little air off the backside..

As heavy as it gets at 2ft

And sometimes you just have to pay the price

The bodysurfing was fun, too..

Kayak storage, Kauai style

When the North shore of Kauai got out of control, we headed down to Kealia, on the east coast. A super-powerful little beachbreak which was always better than it looked!

Another bald, mammal breaching..just off the beach


Hana was beautiful; we stayed in a botanical garden, and I surfed at a historic spot called Keannini (the Upright wave). In ancient legend, a Polynesian king landed at this spot and called the gods to bring waves for him to ride. Apparently (many of the Hawaiian legends are pretty mysoginist) two maidens saw this great man, and attempted to turn his head by removing their clothes. For some reason, they were turned to stone - and those rocks represented the extent of the wave and one of them, Popalana, was actually the rock on which our apartment was located.

Unfortunately, the swell really didnt reach the East Coast and I surfed these (extremely un-Hawaiian) peaks for 10 days straight.

Beautiful spot, wheres the surf?

We have the wheels, shame about the surf..

Caroline enjoying the surroundings

There were other passtimes, like jumping off 40 foot cliffs

Hana has its own canoe club. Although the season hadnt yet started, I did get talking to some of their competitive athletes - the outrigger canoe racers. They made matters worse by telling me that they couldnt remember the last time they hadnt seen any waves for 10 days.apparently, there is a reef a couple of hundred meters offshore from Keanini which would break from 10-30ft and was sometimes ridden by the 20ft long outriggers

Caroline gets some bodysurfing in..

On the way back to the mainland (and the Santa Cruz competition), we dropped by HoOkipa and finally I got some real waves on Maui

This was one of the coolest moments of the entire trip. A turtle (bottom left) poked his head up to check me out on the inside.Hey, get back to the river, bra!

And then it was back to the airport and home via the Santa Cruz surf festival, which is a story for another day.

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