Sunset paddling on the Fourth of July
Friday - July 04, 2008
It’s sum, sum, summertime! We’ve had waves all week for both town and country. Our Taz Sea swells are great because they’re “fat” swells with long lines - and we had two in one week! The North Shore woke from its summer slumber for some head-high fun. Trades have been light and there’s been decent weather.
The forecast is for an overall down trend for town and country, until the next round of south swells near the end of the upcoming week. Log on to www.surfnewsnetwork.com for the latest and greatest trends on waves and weather.
On Friday, the 30th annual Da Hui Fourth of July Paddle Board race will see more than 200 people glide 3.5 miles from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay, starting at 11 a.m. For the serious competitors, it’s an all-out sprint. There will be the stock 12-foot boards as well as the surfboard divisions (under 12 feet). Yes, there will be the ever-growing number of SUPs as well as traditional all-wood boards. The new group is the active-duty military for both men and women. They even have a tandem division.
Last, but not least, our keiki get in on the action for the second annual Waimea Bay Lifeguard Keiki Ocean Challenge - this occurs after the paddleboard race awards ceremony. It’s a great way for family and friends to stay in shape and celebrate Independence Day. See you there - in and out of the water.
The ASP World Tour has moved to South Africa for the fifth stop out of 11. The Billabong Pro at Jeffries Bay starts Thursday, July 10. J Bay is probably the overall best right-hander in the world. Google Earth the place and you’ll see the incredible lineup.A wall can extend out in front of you more than 100 yards, making you question whether you can make it ... you can! There’s lots of tail push with numerous barrel and carving sections for sometimes several football fields. The place and the event are legendary.
World ranked No. 8, Andy Irons is Billabong’s best hope for a win, as he’s won here before. But it’s Quiksilver’s Kelly Slater who’s really in position to win for an unreal fourth time! That’s a record ... of course. He leads the ratings by about as much as one man can.Why? Well, no top 44 pro has won any of the four events except Slater. The only contest he didn’t win was won by a wild card, Bruno Santos in Tahiti. His points don’t count for the Dream Tour dudes. They all are chanting “Stop Slater ... Stop Slater.“I think this mantra will only jinx the contest for them!
Last on the surf list this MidWeek ... I was surfing Kaisers and ran into Buttons Kaluhiokalani - not literally, luckily. The “Innovator of Modern-day Surfing” was in his element, drawing those beautiful sweeping lines just like he has for more than 30 years. In between waves and smiles, we talked about the lucrative business of surf schools (he has his own: www.buttonssurfschool.com). Sure, the subject of all the money to be made came up (some of these schools are making tens and tens of thousands each month). It’s very easy to see why so many have jumped on board in this revitalized industry. Surfing’s popularity and image have surged to an all-time high.Yet, very quickly you could tell Buttons’ first love is the joy of surfing and bringing that joy to others. It really isn’t about the almighty dollar for him.
Buttons enthusiastically told me about the time he taught a blind man named Mike to ride waves - alone. It was a step-by-step process: the paddle out, the positioning, the takeoff, the ride - and the whole time Buttons was patiently guiding and teaching Mike to feel his way. Because that’s how he learned - that’s how Buttons surfs. When the moment came, both he and Mike knew the moment had come: “Do you want to try one alone?” The brave blind man replied “Yes!” and off he went to shore - just him, the board, the wave and his huge heart. Can you just feel their stoke? Can you just imagine those two grinning? Neither will ever forget - and that’s priceless.
See you back here next week! I hope you get a priceless surf session in.
GQ, dropping in 4 U!
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