Getting through the doldrums with HUGS

Gary Kewley
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Friday - August 10, 2007
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The kids from HUGS loving life through surfing at Waikiki
The kids from HUGS loving life through surfing at Waikiki

Aloha, surfers!

Let’s face it, we’re in the doldrums. When trade swells top the list at only 1 to 3 feet, it’s time to sacrifice our surfboards. There are only minor bumps here and there through about Aug. 20. These kinds of lulls definitely get us dreaming of fall and winter. So dream on and grab a junk surf-board to offer up.

Why the lack of swell? Several factors play in, but the main one is the jet stream in the South Pacific. The jet is a large, strong air mass about 10 miles up in the atmosphere flowing generally from west to east with tilts to the north or south. It circles the Earth around the mid latitudes of both hemispheres. This drives storm production and steers them. Of course, it’s the wind in storms that creates our waves by “gripping"the ocean surface over time and distance. So our problem (surfers without surf) is that the southern branch is too close to the Ross Ice Shelf - meaning the jet stream is land/ice locked. Things may turn around in a week or so, and I’ll let you know on the SURFNEWS-NETWORK website.

In the meantime, there’s still lots of fun to be had at spots like Sandy’s or Makapuu. I was out at Sandy’s last Saturday with about 200 people (no exaggeration). The vibe was energetic and chaotic - bodies were flying everywhere, mostly down and under. I listened to the human noises - screaming, bragging, laughing, badgering, coaching, whimpering and just talking. This was mixed in with the sounds of the waves pounding, tubing, crashing, thumping and bumping.When I surrendered into the circus I had a blast. One can’t help but absorb the amazing energy. It’s like being at a concert, but the surf and surfers are the show.

Earlier that morning I was at Waikiki’s Queens Surf break for the HUGS (Help, Understanding and Group Support) annual event for the kids. As we gazed at the crowds I said to one of the parents that it was probably the most crowded surf spot on the planet. I hadn’t seen Sandy’s yet! Surfing in all its forms is hugely popular ... it’s at an all-time-high guaranteed.

I don’t care what you ride or how well you ride - whether you have nothing but fins and trunks on for the first time or whether you’re a seasoned short boarding shredder, the stoke is the same. The kids of HUGS prove it.

Yes, it was a beautiful thing - and a beautiful thing to watch: the smiles on the kids riding waves just off the world’s most popular beach. A special breed of surfers came out to teach and help these children get the stoke of a lifetime - and they deserve it. Most all of these youths have serious life-threatening medical problems. HUGS is there to “provide support, compassion and aloha to keep families with seriously ill children together.”

Watching gave me a fresh stoke I haven’t felt since my first ride to shore. These children reminded me of how much joy there is in the simple act of being moved along the top of the water as the white water breaks around your legs and feet. One of the girls (who’d never ridden a wave before) actually switched stance many times. I saw one kid who uses a wheel-chair on land stand up and walk on water! Another girl had so much determination in her face it inspired me to challenge myself more. Then you have the smiles - those are what get you - pure joy! They kept going back out for more ... just one more ... just one more!

Thank you to all those who made this event a success - especially the children who inspire us with their love and joy. Keep smiling!

Check out HUGSLOVE.ORG. Mahalo to you for your support.

See you in the surf and here next week ...

GQ, dropping In 4 U!

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