Just Say Yes
Forecasts. Plans. Parties. Tides. Crowds. Fear of locals. Fear of waves. People are sucked into the vacuum of inaction by all these things, but the No. 1 reason people sit idle on the North Shore is because of options. There are so many waves to surf on that stretch of sand that it’s really easy to end up sitting on your ass in pursuit of surfing the best possible waves around. And when you do finally paddle out, you often spend half the session gazing down the beach, because maybe it’s better down there. It is a spoiled-surfer problem if there ever was one, but it’s an issue nonetheless.
Not this year. Not me. I arrived on the North Shore with my horse blinders on, determined to surf what was in front of me and do it without fear of missing something else. I would keep moving. I’d say “yes” to everything. Want to surf Off-the-Wall? Yes. Want to climb the Pupukea hill? Yes. Want to swim out and shoot Backdoor with your iPhone? Yes. Want to go to Surfer Poll? No. A man has his limits.
On my first morning on the North Shore, without checking anywhere else, I paddled out to Sunset on a borrowed 7’2”. The sun crept above the hill and highlighted the shifty lineup with a dramatic glow and I battled the current for two hours and managed a few glassy 8-footers. I washed off the nervousness associated with returning to the North Shore and I didn’t think about how Rockies or Backdoor was because I was at Sunset, and that was the only wave on earth.
At noon I found myself at Haleiwa with associate editor Zander Morton. As we paddled out, he said, “After this you just have to surf Pipeline to do a one-day Triple Crown.” I laughed and said, “F–k that,” because I have no business at Pipe, but I was kinda pissed, too. I hadn’t thought of that concept, but now he’d put it in my head. On my very first day I was in danger of losing my keep moving and just say yes approach to the North Shore. Damn it.
In Jamie O’Brien’s “Under the Influence” [Pg. 28] he describes Pipeline as “a war.” Paddling out that evening to begrudgingly complete my one-day Triple Crown, on the eve of the actual Pipe Masters, I felt like a mall security guard among a special ops battalion. The waves were scary enough, but it was the people in the lineup that made it so combative. Talented and entitled locals. Visiting pros. Packs of groms. Boogieboarders. Bodysurfers. Wannabes. And while I knew I was in the latter category, I didn’t really wanna be out there. I was a liability among the skilled militants that defend the most coveted peak in the world. I was in the way. So I shifted toward the channel a bit, just outside the bodysurfers, and watched. And, of course, as soon as I’d waved my white flag in defeat, a wave swung wide of the pack and presented itself to me. Not the biggest. Not the best. But an actual Pipe wave. I turned. I paddled. I caught. I rode — straight to the beach. — Taylor Paul
Inside this Issue
Pg. 60 Pipeline Rising
What’s it like cutting your teeth at the most sought-after, photographed and dangerous wave on earth? The Florence brothers, Koa Rothman, Kiron Jabour and Eli Olson know — Pipeline raised all six of them. From the brutal pecking order to cleanup sets and — wait, is that a hot chick on the beach? We sit down in John John’s backyard and talk about the wave that shaped their lives.
Pg. 72 Mixed Plate
Torrey Meister, shacked and sponsored. GMOs and the battle at ground zero. Rocky Point’s cultural divide. Steep and Deep and Pipe from every angle and then some. A heavy helping of random and delicious North Shore tidbits. Pass the shoyu.
Pg. 94 The Separate Kingdom
Quick, what’s your favorite surf photo from Kauai? Don’t be surprised if you can’t remember; you’ve probably never seen one. Shooting photos and video of surfing on Kauai has been an unwritten (but well enforced) law for decades. Wanna make a living from surfing? Go to Oahu with the rest of the circus. For this issue, professional surfer Kamalei Alexander asks fellow Garden Island natives if the ban still stands and if concessions can be made. Kala Alexander, Evan Valiere, Malia Manuel and Dustin Barca give their take on this touchy subject.