December 5th, one month into the trip, starting to settle in.
Bought a red 96 Ford Ranger manual transmission beater the week before and have been able to get to all the main surf spots daily.
Surfed several key spots and getting comfortable in the lineups, it seemed like the time to start to open up and just go for it in some bigger surf.
This day in particular Surfline was calling the surf 8′-10+’ or something but it had much more energy compared to other days being called that size. It was a Northerly dominant swell which opens up most right-handers here and expecting a fresh solid NW swell to fill in late in the day.
These are perfect conditions for Laniakea (Lani’s) for those who don’t know is a right-hand point break wave that breaks over a flat table-like reef. Basically, it’s far from machine-like perfection (even though it looks that way in the pic below) and the wave throws all kinds of different looks.
Here is a nice pic of Lani’s on a smaller day for visual aid:
Charged up by myself mid-afternoon with a 7’0″. Surf looks awesome from the beach. It’s kind of far out but I know the lineup enough by now even though I knew it was going to be pretty big. I double-checked my leash loop for tears, checked my leash for cracks & gave it a few hard pulls, put a nice coat of wax on my rails and started getting some deep breaths to get super calm. I’m just getting my mind and body ready to remain calm.
At the end of the wave, there is a rip current that rips straight from the beach out to sea and I paddled out with a dry head. Super relaxed, I just scooped right out into the lineup and started paddling up the point toward the guys on the peak.
Even with riding the current, the paddle out takes several minutes to get outside and several minutes again to paddle up the point, in a backward 7 direction. With the West Bowl not really active I made my way to the middle peak and still had not seen a wave break in the lineup, completely lulled out.
I start marking myself up with the guys ‘deep up the point’ from the ‘middle peak’ to be outside of the impact zone when I see everybody in the lineup paddling straight out. Still relaxed and calm I took that indication and started to do the same.
When I got a glimpse of the first wave in the set coming in, I could not fucking believe how big this fucker was. All of it’s energy swung wide of the point and was focused where I was on the middle peak.
It was a complete shock to my system. I felt like fire alarm bells were going off inside my head. It was every bit of a 20-plus foot face that stretched for a hundred yards in either direction bearing down.
This kind of set will make you re-evaluate how fast you can paddle cause you find a few extra gears you forgot you have.
Luckily, cleared the set before it broke and immediately was thinking, what the hell did I just get myself into!? This was way bigger than I expected it to be and I was already expecting it to be pretty big.
I also knew that I’d probably have to catch one to get back to the beach.
My only real move was to make my way closer to the pack. I sat on the outskirts of the lineup and started to watch how everybody was navigating the sets. The other half-dozen or so guys in the lineup seemed pretty spooked as well, but dealing with it at the same time.
I spent about 30-45 minutes just playing hide and seek with the sets not even trying to catch one.
Then a perfect ‘smaller’ one came right to me and gave me a chance at a chip shot drop so I dug deep, paddled, and caught it with the intention of going in.
That wave gave me such a rush that I swung around and went straight back out!
Things get blurry over the next few waves but I caught a bigger wave with each drop, making each one and getting back out into the lineup without getting caught inside.
As the fun increased, so did the thought that I knew I had to pay to play and there was no way I could go in from this session without getting beatings.
You just have to or it weighs on you.
Some people talk about going a whole SEASON without having to pay dues and they get nervous as shit from the anticipation. The smart move is to just get it over with on purpose but whatever…
Halfway through the session, a badass local Hawaiian lifeguard paddles out after duty and we start talking.
‘Brah! I think the swell came early, reports are way off!’
He’s been watching the whole time and we start sharing info about the conditions, which waves are better, marking up points on the shoreline, and all kinds of info that’s going to help pick the best waves and hopefully stay safe. We’re trading waves for a good little bit.
The whole time up until now the current has been from the North which is from right to left looking from the beach.
The full moon pops up over the mountain to the right of the lineup and in the next few minutes, the fresh NW swell overpowers the N swell and the whole lineup changes face and the current starts ripping in the opposite direction sucking everybody up the point.
I’m pretty sure the full moon played a factor in pulling that swell in.
I didn’t notice it as fast as the lifeguard but he keyed me into the shift and suggested we paddle down against the current to the West bowl. We make it down there, the wind had died completely, and it’s still the same size, and absolutely firing.
His knowledge of the break got us down to this peak that was working several minutes before anyone else as they battled the current and we were on rotation getting big glassy bombs, not really barreling, just nice big open-face waves. Riding the rip right back out to the peak and repeat.
Eventually, others make their way down and the peak has a dozen or so surfers.
Coming up on dark, most everyone is sitting on the ‘outside’ when I hear the same lifeguard scream at the top of his lungs from the channel:
One of the deepest yells I’ve heard in my life.
I look out and it’s time for everybody in the lineup to pay their dues.
The biggest set of the day by far.
Not the same day or place but pictures of big surf hardly do them justice:
Everybody gets mowed down for two or three waves depending on how close to the channel they were when it came in.
The whole time I’m actually feeling an incredible rush and even laughing in between waves amongst the chaos knowing that I’m getting it over with. I won’t have to go in without getting smoked and it feels great.
I came in just punch drunk with stoke and everybody in the lineup made sure that everyone else made it in safely and we all had a conversation on the beach afterward.
Everybody is just thankful. Thankful for the opportunity, thankful for our equipment, thankful for the ability, and thankful everyone came in safe.
This session was the most exciting thing that happened to me during the whole trip up to that point.
I won’t be forgetting my first BIG LEAGUE day at Lani’s anytime soon.