So, I stepped out of a training camp and straight into a rap video. Two doors down, at the new-and-super-improved O'Hale Compound, is where Oakely and Red Bull house their teams. It's also where Young Jeezy bumps to the wee hours, cameramen are filming everything from car washes to chug-offs, everyone gathers to watch the day's mayhem at Pipe, Backdoor and Off the Wall, then gathers at night to watch the footage from the day's mayhem at Pipe, Backdoor and Off the Wall. If you're shy about performing in front of a crowd, then now more than ever, this isn't the place for you. From dawn until dawn, every single wave is watched by practically every house on this strip, scrutinized and commented on in between Corona pulls. But these days, from caretaker/Pipe charger Rico Jimenez's balcony on the second floor, this is where the most analysis takes place.
When I first showed up, Rico, Bruce Irons, Barca and Koby Abberton were all up on the perch, debating whether to surf or not. This was before Bruce went out today and scraped himself up pretty good. "I told myself I was going to go out and get one wave he said," motioning to the scratches and raspberries from chin to feet courtesy of solid, 10- to 12-foot Pipe. "I got one wave all right."
Barca caught the wave of the day yesterday. A Backdoor drainer that didn't let up until past Off the Wall. He seems cool and content in his new role as ASP Top 45 member, and there's no doubt he'll be doing some damage at the spots of consequence – especially his favorite spot right out front. "I never leave here," he says of the O'Hale compound. "Not even to Foodland."
Rico was the one who initially offered to put me up, which was seconded by generous owner Craig Yester (as a former tenant, we go way back). So Craig set me up in a secret "music" room for the last two nights and I gotta say – despite the parties and non-stop fun – I got the best sleep I've had since I've been here. Think of a secret cubby hole at front-row, 50-yard-line seats at the Superdome, and you get the idea. So I can climb out of my den and be social when I want, then go back and hide in a soundproof room when I want to hide. As a couch-dweller, hiding is becoming more and more valued, which makes this such an ideal setup.
Ideal enough to recount all the past couple day's action, which I'll do here:
·As you know the swell's been non-stop. Ignore the other sites for naming Outer Reefs, Allah and Huey will punish them for that. But just know that my 9'0" is getting more mileage than it's gotten in any other North Shore stay in the last five years. Us paddle guys are very content with more on the way.
·Pipe had another day today. At the Eddie ceremony (more on that next), Jamie O'Brien commented that there was "hardly anyone out at Pipe today." Cross-checking his observation with others, they laughed and said, "That's because he caught every good wave!" Some even used the word, "glutton." Either way, Jamie O was the man today, like he's been on most swells the past few years. Look for more triple covers in his future. Other guys who caught gems today: Reef McIntosh (again!), Alex Gray, Kelly, Shane, Ryan Hipwood, Evan Valeire and many more. It was a good day, but not a classic day. But as Danny Fuller said, "We'll take any Pipe swell we can get."
·Which is why the Pipe guys were a little antsy when they first showed up to the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau ceremony this afternoon. But as soon as they took their seats and listened to guys like Mark Cunningham, Titus Kinimaka and Kahu Billy Mitchell pay respects to the wave and the incredible human that was Eddie Aikau, they knew they were in the right place. A lot was made of the tough economic times that are upon us, but Kelly Slater summed it up best when he quoted a Billy Mitchell sermon: "If you are breathing, you are wealthy." This is one of the few pomp and circumstance ceremonies in the surfing world that truly resonates every time you attend. That gives you chicken skin every time another legend speaks of humility, respect and honor. We thought we were in store for a good show in the predicted 15- to 18-foot surf, but there were only a few 12-footers coming through – just enough for a series of party waves after Clyde Aikau put the entire 24 invitees on the spot out in the water. "Say something….Shane Dorian!" he'd yell. And then Dorian, on cue, would pull it off gracefully, like he just whipped it under a 20-foot ledge and skirted the drop. Same went for everyone, from Brock to Healey to first-time invitee, Grant "Twiggy" Baker. "Watch for that guy," said Dorian. "That guy has skills." So does everyone else. Looking forward to seeing it run this year.
Speaking of running, The Chronic is playing outside the music room and I'm being one of those weird writers who cuddles up with his laptop when everyone else is having a good time. It's time for me to unplug, mingle and enjoy it as it happens.