Inspirational Ballard

Gary Kewley
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Friday - May 05, 2006
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Rochelle Ballard in ‘the best tube ever ridden at Cloud Break’
Rochelle Ballard in ‘the best tube ever ridden at Cloud

All right, wave riders!

It’s May 1 as I sit here and write for you. Things are looking up for Hawaii these days ... cleaner water, sunshine, trade winds and plenty springtime surf on both the North and South shores. See? We knew things would turn around. Right now we should have ridden some good sized 3-5-foot south swells that hit Wednesday and will slowly drop through the weekend. On Sunday we see the country rise to the occasion with possible 5-footers. This means the crowds will be spread out and not too hungry, since town has had waves for awhile. Stoked!

I want to say mahalo to each and all of you who gave your support to our talented youth last Sunday night at Local Motion Waikiki. The benefit and auction were a HUGE success. The Hawaii team is now off to Brazil May 6-14 to defend their gold. Thanks to the Internet, we’ll all be able to keep tabs on the 2006 Junior World Championship all the way down in Brazil! Get to it: and 596-surf.

The pro girls finished up event No. 2 last Thursday (4/27) in Fiji at a small Island named Tavarua. Though you can walk around the Island in 20 minutes (if you go slowly), its stature in the surfing world is anything but small. The place has two main breaks: One is right in front where everyone eats, drinks and parties. It’s appropriately named “Restaurants.” Everyone can watch and hoot. To this day, it is the best left I’ve ever ridden.

You can see the sets “stacking” wave upon wave far to your left ... so you know what’s coming. There’s nothing like the anticipation of guaranteed perfection to get you pumped. By the time one of these 200-300 yard “freight trains” gets near, you must grab on with a parallel takeoff. Then the real fun begins, as the wave literally builds in size in the mid-section. If you caught say, a 4-footer, it’ll grow before your eyes to 5 and even 6 feet before tapering off on the final 100-yard dash. It’s like being in fifth gear all the way. There’s so much “tail push” you feel like you’re flying most the way. Yet, there’s ample room for maneuvers, too - bottom turns and top turns galore at high velocity. If you can pull off a roundhouse cut-back, you feel great. Just don’t lose too much speed, because this wave isn’t waiting. There are super-charged moments in the race to make this speed demon. No, the wave is not for beginners.

Then there’s “Cloud Break,” about two miles off the Island ... or about a 15 minute boat ride. This is the BIG brother/sister to Restaurants. Cloud Break is heavier and gets much bigger. It can hold 15 feet easy and has even held 20 feet! Tavarua is all fresh and bright young coral reefs and everyone gets to meet it (the reef) whether they want to or not. It’s just that kind of place. Pack your body-repair kit.

Cloud Break is hollow, fast and perfect, though not as long or as flawless as Restaurants. But hey, you won’t be complaining, I promise. The rides average about a football field or two of everything a wave has to offer!

So this is what surfer girls want? Yes! And it’s just what the surfer girls got during the Roxy Pro. The winner was an Australian named Melanie Redman-Carr, and she’s won the first two events of 2006. She’s on fire, to say the least. However, the girl who charged the meanest barrels was none other than Kauai’s Rochelle Ballard. Though smaller in average height, nobody has a bigger heart or more courage. Rochelle is renowned for her big barrel prowess.

However, catching the best waves during a heat is the name of the game, and Rochelle just got unlucky with time. She only needed a 4.25 to advance, but didn’t find “the wave” until seconds after the horn blew signaling the end of the heat. Emerging from what peers are calling the “best tube ever ridden at Cloud Break,” Rochelle would have likely earned a perfect 10 for the wave and her critical performance. She was seconds too late. Ballard is currently equal third and has this to say about her time in Fiji:

“Appreciation is loving what you do and letting go of things that aren’t meant to be, while enjoying what is meant to be. Because it is what it is and there’s nothing you can do to change what has happened. You will see the press release and enjoy the news of great victory by Mel Redman-Carr and Layne Beachley going after her seventh world title, the new blood coming of age and how much women’s surfing is growing. I love it, and I always and forever will appreciate and believe in its growth. But today and this week is beyond all of that, in my eyes. For me, it’s a time of loving what you do and doing what you love. We spent a week in paradise, blue skies every day, aqua-blue water, perfect waves, great company, hot boatmen, beautiful Fijian love, gorgeous sunsets, super fun pajama dance parties, tennis in bikinis, cocktails by the pool, and a week gone by too fast.”

Rochelle Ballard ... inspired and an inspiration!

I hope to see you right here next week and in the Hawaiian lineup. (No, I won’t be in Fiji).

GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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