Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lessons from Nature

The Finals for the Pipeline Masters finally took place today, but not before they had strung us along all day yesterday. ("It's not off yet, they are postponing the call til 12:30." "We're still waiting for the big swell that is quickly approaching. The new call time is 1:30.")

"The waves are small. They're not going to do it today," Yuko-san told me on the phone. She's a former pro-surfer who is now a flight instructor. I was calling to arrange an interview with her for a radio show.

I should have listened to her instead of repeatedly calling 596-SURF for the latest update, but it all worked out in the end because friends from Arcata (northern California) who had arrived on Monday rented a car (Big Dog wasn't about to bike it to North Shore), I was meeting Yuko-san in Haleiwa AND the Competition was ON. Efficiency always feels mighty good to us Virgos.

There isn't a whole lot of parking at Banzai Pipeline, but entrepreneurial locals turned their front yards into temporary parking lots, charging $5 per day. Not bad! (During the Aichi Expo last year, the local farmers were charging the equivalent of $20-60 for their spaces!) Since none of us minded walking, we found a spot on the road about half a mile away, but you really have to be careful about parking because Hawaii is as rabid as Los Angeles when it comes to illegal parking. Even as we walked to Pipeline, a tow truck was hard at work removing offenders from the road.

The great thing about Pipeline is that the giant waves break right there on the shore. You are incredibly close to the action and the pros make it all look deceptively easy. What many tourists don't see is the razor-sharp coral reef mere inches below the surface, ready to turn an inexperienced surfer's face into pizza.

I'm not a surf reporter, so I'll leave comments on the competition to the pros, but we were sad to see Jamie O'Brien eliminated during the semi-finals. So much of surfing is out of your control. No matter how good you are, if the waves don't cooperate… I guess that's why I love it so much. Surfing teaches you to respect nature, teaches you patience. It teaches you that you just have to accept some things. Like waves that are not perfect, like luck not always being on your side, like the traffic jam getting out of North Shore after the competition. You just have to let go and enjoy the moment anyway.
If only I'd started surfing at his age! The local kids come out during the competitions to show off their prowess. Who knows, someone important could be watching!

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