Spring Surf

Gary Kewley
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Friday - March 17, 2006
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At the Quiksilver Pro Australia, seven-time world champ Kelly Slater earned his 32nd career victory
At the Quiksilver Pro Australia, seven-time world
champ Kelly Slater earned his 32nd career victory

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! March 21 is coming up fast, and that means a “formal” goodbye to winter, though the weather sure doesn’t say that. We can expect improvement over the weekend, but long-range weather forecasts (one week out) have low confidence. The long-range surf forecasts are a little more “predictable” because surf is created by weather, so to speak ... bad weather, to be specific! Once you see a storm “spinning” you can bet that the wind is up and increasing sea heights. I guess air is harder to “get a grip on” than water. My hat is off to the National Weather Service.

We will see more south swell energy this weekend, but nothing big. So far the Southern Hemi is really treating us to an early season of waves. We’ve had almost a half dozen small to moderate south swells, and it’s still March! Stoked! This could be an epic spring, but don’t get too excited and assume this means the summer of 2006 will be just as good ... it doesn’t. Many past springs have seen what we thought were great telltale signs of a super summer of surf only to be very disappointed. Let’s get a little closer to June before we make those long-term predictions.

Just in case you haven’t heard, on the Fosters World Tour front, Kelly Slater won the first event in Australia! He’s No. 1 out the gates. He’s now stacked up 32 wins for his illustrious career. He’s one behind Tom Curren’s long-held 33 career victories. This record was once thought to be unsurpassable. Well, folks, unless God has other plans for Kelly, I predict he will break it, and he may reach 40 WCT victories - he’s that great. The greatest! As to whether or not Slater plans to go for eight world titles is still in question. “It’s a real thing on everyone’s minds,” he says, “but it really isn’t in my focus right now. I do think about it, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t, but it’s not keeping me up at night, and it’s not waking me up in the morning. It’s just something that could happen.” Well, one thing for sure, the tour is better off with him than without him. I’ll bet there’s a lot of BIG company execs staying up at night and waking up in the morning thinking and praying about it. Imagine Tiger Woods retiring right now. Ouch! Come on, Kelly ... think of the children ... one more year ... please!

Another Big Man in the world of surf is Buffalo Keaulana (see Page 6). This legendary waterman, now in his 70s, will never retire. In fact, his annual cultural surfing event just had its 30-year anniversary! It’s the Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic at Makaha, and it is just that - classic! There are more than a dozen divisions with the most unique and creative surfing anyone can imagine. If you want to enter, you’d better know the “Buffalo stance,” the “coffin,” the “cockroach,” the “king’s stance,” the “cheater five,” the “switch-stance-turn” and ... the “you name it, we’ll do it” trick! Indeed, there’s so much versatility from these watermen and women. They spend every day in the water, so they get a bit bored with just one form of wave riding and need to mix it up. And, they can mix it up - with style, skill and grace!

Check out some of the divisions:
1) Standup Beach Boy: Surfers use a paddle and never lay down to paddle (this is a revival that is taking off).
2) Tandem (won once again by the perennial Brian Keaulana and Kathy Terada).
3) Paipo Boarding (using a wooden body board).
4) Bully Boarding.
5) Open Division.
6) Team Surfing.
7) Legends (won by the crowd favorite, Bunky Bakutis) and more! See some cool photos of the final day’s festivities at SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM

Each year hundreds of people from around the world venture out to West Oahu to soak up the great vibe and aloha spirit that this place and its people give. The Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic is truly a family affair that extends to all. I’m going to give you lots more from these people who make it happen next week. I’ll be talking to Buffalo and his awesome wife, Auntie Momi, Craig Inouye with Russ K Makaha and Bunky “Barracuda” Bakutis! Don’t miss what they have to say! Also, a special mahalo to “Real B Voice”: the main sponsor for many years.

I’ll see you in the lineup! GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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