Waiting On Mother Nature

Gary Kewley
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Friday - November 17, 2006
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Pipeline Master Jamie O’Brien busts a BIG move on a small wave in his back yard playground
Pipeline Master Jamie O’Brien busts a BIG move on a small wave
in his back yard playground

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers!

Can you believe this? The South Shore is coming up again and should be staying up for several days. Relatively speaking, town is outdoing country. Yes, country is bigger by the foot, but smaller by the seasonal average. No one would be surprised if town were 0-1 for most the last month ... and no one would be surprised if country was 6-10 many times over! Alas, surf mates, we must take what we get ... and we get ‘um on all shores.

By the time this is being held in your hands, the Vans Triple Crown will have begun! The OP Pro at Ali’I Beach Park has just 11 days (Nov.12-22) to complete five days of competition for both men and women. The girls have one day to strut their stuff and the boys have four. The pressure is on ... not only for our athletes, but also for getting our big northwest swells that fuel the first jewel of the Triple Crown.


What we see on the forecast models are North swells, which aren’t the best angle for Haleiwa. Haleiwa likes the same thing as Pipeline - a fat W-NW. This is true even though Pipe breaks primarily left and Ali’i breaks right (from a surfers’view in the lineup). This all has to do with the ocean bottom contour and bathymetry (the measurement of the depth of the ocean floor from the water surface - the oceanic equivalent of topography).

It’s amazing what a difference swell direction makes in the size and quality of breaking waves. It’s this combo of the “sea bottom” and “sea top” that does the trick. It’s No. 2 of the three main variables all surfers need for true love: 1) Size 2) Direction 3) Texture (ummm, what a coincidence). When all three line up in perfect order ... we score!

So that’s why we wait. The Vans Triple Crown depends on the whims of Mother Nature to bring us that perfect day. Often we must compromise and settle for less.

Waiting for the right one is a bit of an art and science. We have satellites and buoys and ships and eyes to scan the vast Pacific environment, but that’s still only part of the game. Some of it is intuition, experience and even educated guessing. But I will say some are very good at it ... some not so very good. That’s why contest directors wait ‘til “the day” to decide. There’s nothing that can replace a direct observation ... a “first date,” so to speak. That’s why smart guys like Triple Crown director Randy Rarick hit it at the crack of dawn ... no matter what the forecast says. Once he decides to go or not to go, I get the call and paddle into media mania.

This all goes back to why we must have a holding period ... to ensure the world’s best surfers get the best waves possible - and spectators get a show they won’t soon forget. But no matter what happens with the waves ... you’re still get to watch the best surfers in the world right in our own back yard!


Speaking of someone’s own back yard: Take a look at Jamie O’Brien’s defiance of gravity off his front door step on Monday Nov. 13. The wave is small but the talent is BIG. It’s always fun to be there. Thanks to photographer David Croxford of croxie.com for his perfect moment.

To know for sure if the Vans Triple Crown is on or off, just call 596-surf or 638-rush or visit SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM - we’ll post it by 7 a.m. every day until the last day of the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters (holding period is Dec 8-20).

I’ll see you back here next week with a look at the winners of the OP Pro, and the next event at Sunset: the O’Neill World Cup!

I’m GQ ... Dropping in 4 U!

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