Enjoying the blessings of nature in the new year

Gary Kewley
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Friday - January 02, 2009
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Jamie O’Brien is about to get a big-time barrel

Happy New Year, surfers! Wow, that went by fast - 2008 was superb, as we had the most consistent summer surf on record ... sweet.

Now add into the mix the new guard of women - they proved they’re here for good as Stephanie Gilmore won her second world title in her second year on tour, and seven-time world champ Layne Beachley retired. The really young ones, like Carissa Moore and Coco Ho (just to name a couple locals), are making statements heard ‘round the surf globe.

Frankly, the women seem to be showing “most improved” over men.

But at least the men’s old guard is still ruling. Those four gnarly Aussies - Bede Durbidge, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow - are always right near the top.

And then, of course, there’s still Kelly Slater ... sitting on his throne at the top of the surfing universe. One more title will make it 10, and that should about do it for the full-time super star.

Will he pass the top torch to our Australian neighbors for the next decade? Well, let’s see how 2009 stacks up first.

So far it’s looking good for waves to stack up to advisory levels and above for the long haul. The jet stream, or large upper air currents, are now steering the storms closer, creating bigger waves. The jet is moving east off of Southern Japan and has dropped to low latitudes of 30 to 40 degrees (we sit at about 20 degrees north of the equator); it also currently has a long consolidated flow past the dateline (180 degrees longitude). Since we sit just east of 160, we’re only about 1,000 miles away from these air currents and associated storms. This means larger, more consistent waves like the ones the pros had in late November and early December.

Sidebar: Their timing was incredible with six weeks straight of above seasonal averages, then waves went way below averages through the end of the year.

This is a time when all the hoopla has passed, but the waves are still pumping into April. The hard-core locals can find more “moments” with just their neighbors to hoot and holler at. Actually, I heard many comments about how the North Shore wasn’t as crowded as years past, attributing this to the worldwide recession.

Poor surfers ... who’d have thought?

Deep down, we know that surfers have “deep pockets” of health, happiness and stoke. Our blessings of nature - especially here in Hawaii Nei - are as abundant as Bill Gates’ bank account. We get to be out there pretty much for free and get that priceless feeling we’ve come to depend on - the ultimate high ... just riding a wave.

I’m looking forward to sharing the stoke with you all year long.

A million mahalos for reading MidWeek.

Aloha, GQ dropping in 4 U!

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