Editor’s Note: Twenty-eight-year-old North Shore surfer Randall Paulson has been in the mix at Pipe for years. But in the last couple of seasons, keen observers are whispering the glaring truth: “Randall’s The Man now.” Randall was “The Man” more than ever this winter, as supersession after supersession he somehow found the wave of the day. Seeing how he continues to defy the odds at the world’s toughest takeoff zone, we figured he’s got more than luck on his side. Here’s Randall’s theory on being in the saddle for the wave everyone wants.
“Being able to catch the wave of the day at a spot — especially Pipe — is a lifetime work. There’s so many different factors that go into it, but it basically boils down to these three things:
1. Be patient. I’ve been surfing Pipe since I was in the seventh grade, and for so many years, I just didn’t care. I’d go on anything. Big closeouts, insiders, whatever. I just wanted to get barreled. But when you do it this way, especially at a place like Pipe, you’re bound to miss the one that everybody remembers. I guess it was in the last couple of years that I started being more selective. My shaper, Chuck Andrus, encouraged me to basically go with two different-size boards: a 7’3” for anything 12 feet and below, and a 7’6” for those really huge days. They’re thicker than my old boards, and the shorter length allows me to position myself better. It also puts me at ease: I’m not worried about what board to ride; I’m just focused on catching that one good wave. Patience is the first step; being willing to sit out there for three, even four hours straight without catching a wave. And then being ready for it when it finally comes.
2. Be aware. When you’re being patient, you also need to be completely aware of where you are at all times. This doesn’t necessarily mean being the farthest and deepest guy. It can, but at Pipe guys will try to sit on you all the time, trying to talk and distract you. I have a little lineup I use on the beach, and I’ll stick to that and do my best to be away from everyone else. I try not to talk too much; I just stay focused on the ocean and what it’s doing. The beauty of Pipe — and so many other spots — is that it doesn’t break in the exact same place every time. It shifts around depending on the slightest change in direction, so I’m moving constantly, trying to anticipate that. A lot of guys talk about a “sixth sense” — kind of feeling that next wave before it comes in. You can tap into that if you’re really paying attention.
3. Be a good person. I believe that good things come to good people. If you do it right, and don’t paddle around guys or burn guys to get waves, eventually it’ll come around. After all, no one’s The Man; God’s the Man.We’re just lucky to surf His spots.”
For more “Raw Hawaii”, pick up the April 2005 issue of SURFING on sale February 22nd. Or click HERE to subscribe.