Friday, December 09, 2005

Boom



Waves big. And there was wind. Waves really big. I hopped in my x-residence and rolled down the hill at about 2pm. Ho'okipa looked insane. It was closed out though. So I went to check out this big point break called Noriega's. There's a little secret beach access path in Kuau which leads down to a cobblestone beach, and about ten square feet of sand leading towards a little notch in the reef that's big enough to squeeze a windsurfer through if you know what you're doing. I'd threaded my way through it before with mixed success. There were a couple of other guys rigging up. I went and got my gear, and came back in time to see one of the guys go out and just get worked. It was a really hard day to make it out, even with a windsurfer. Did I mention the waves were BIG?

I managed to scramble over the rocks and get in the water at the sand patch. I waited and caught a gust that took me through the slot in the reef. I floated around a bit between the reef and where the outside waves were breaking, trying to pick a time between sets when I could make it out. The sets coming in... BIG! I saw an opening and tried to make it out, but then a set came and I had to turn tail and run back in. I did this a couple more times before finally making it all the way out -- just squeaking over the first wave of a set coming in. Jesus, the last time I was going up something this big I was in a chair lift! I knew I was in over my head, but what the hell, this is what I'm here for. I tacked back and forth a couple of times, then lined up on a set coming in. I didn't want to take the first wave, in case I screwed up and got wrecked by the rest of the set. So I picked the third one. I could barely keep pace with it at full speed. As I came in on top of it, the wave got steeper and steeper as it got to shallower water. And it got bigger. I was lined up pretty well, screaming down the line full tilt. And then it actually started breaking. There was the lip coming over, way up there... about twice as high as my mast. At this point, I figured I was going to die. I charged down the line on the face, but this wave was lined up for about a mile and about to all come over at once. It's amazing how fast you can go on a vertical wall of water with the wind behind you. It was fun as hell. My form left a lot to be desired, but hey, I lived. I managed to scoot out in front as it came down behind me. Looking up at it... it made me feel very VERY small. Like trying to out-race an avalanche.

I did this same thing five more times. A couple of waves had to be the biggest I've been on. Bigger than my house. And I live in a two story duplex. With high ceilings. Then, being me, I did something very very dumb. I rode in on one of the first waves of a new set, but for some reason I figured I could turn up it and go over the back and tack back out before the rest of the set was breaking. But I was wrong. I turned up and over the wave I was on, but then... the one coming up after it was much bigger. I wasn't going to even be close to making it over it. Crap! I spun the sail around and tried to get up and outrun it. I had no chance. This monster came crashing down and rushed towards me as I struggled with complete futility. It hit me like a truck. The sail was ripped from my hands and the turbulence tumbled me like a rag doll. I felt my neck get tweaked, then both of my arms were tingling. Oh great, I'm fucked! But no, I was still able to move. I curled up in a ball until the wave let me go, then swam to the surface. Miraculously, the board appeared to be in one piece right next to me. I swam to it and tried to get it up and going before the next wave came. I got lucky, that wave had been the last of the set, so I had a small window of time to get out of there. But something was wacky. The sail was too floppy. It took me a minute to see that the boom had been compressed and torqued around -- it was bent at an unhappy angle on one side. Crap. Guess my vertebrae are stronger than carbon fiber. The sail was still semi-functional though -- kind of like flying a spinnaker -- and I was able to use it to get out of the impact zone. I finally limped ashore about two miles downwind. Damn. Carbon booms are expensive. But I was happy to be alive. And when I got home C had made a wonderful dinner! How cool is that? I'm one lucky bastard.

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