First West Swell Turns Pipe On

Maui charger Ian Walsh is standing outside the Red Bull house, rubbing his hands together, talking as over his left shoulder, another massive set stacked up pyramid style on Pipe’s first reef and detonated on the shallow reef, all airbrushed by a stiff, clean easterly offshore.

“Earlier in the day, it had been a little junky, with two swell running over the top of each other, but as the day progressed the bigger swell took over, the sun came out, the offshore kicked in, and there was some epic Pipe barrels,” continued Walshy, who as usual, scored his fair share. One surfer who didn’t get his fair share was Jamie O’Brien. Watching his first session, South African Jordy Smith, commented, “I’m only going out when Jamie comes in. That will at least make 60 per cent of the waves available. He gets every bomb.”

Walshy agreed. “I saw a lot of good waves today, but Jamie probably scored four or five absolutely mental ones. He just had an amazing rhythm out there.”

“He makes it look it that easy,” agreed Pipe charger Gav Gillette. “You watch him out there and he’s always in the right spot. He knows where every one is, can separate himself from the pack at the right time and then just has this absolute confidence when he pushes over the ledge. He’s the best out there for sure.”

As for the man himself he was just happy too stroll down the 30 metre walk from his house, through the throngs of photographers and sunlicked crowd, and go out and do just what comes naturally. “Of course it helps that it’s my local break,” he said exiting the water, “but you just to wait and scope the good ones. It was a new swell today and its super shallow at the moment, so its pretty gnarly out there, but I managed to get a few barrels. There’s more big west swells coming over for the next two weeks so I’ll try and not get hurt, get barreled every day and get the job done.” Watching Jamie, you’d be forgiven thinking it was easy out there. But with sets approach a “proper Hawaiian eight feet,” according to Gillette, which in more normal terms saw 25 feet faces and with a hungry pack of 30 devouring every scrap and morsel of the first swell of the season, it was a heavy scene. ” It’s pretty aggro out there now,” said Bruce Irons, “everyone is frothing on the first swell. I’m going to wait it out, there’s some madness out there.”

That included one hideous drop in and wipeout, when two local pipe hellman, Aaimon Goodwin and Cody Graham tangled on one of the biggest waves of the day, ending with Goodwin getting taken to hospital with a wrenched knee and Graham in tears his part in what was lucky not to be a fatal accident. There was stand up paddle boards going over the falls, body surfers pulling into close-outs, hideous crowd gasping wipeouts and of course huge, cavernous tubes. “It’s not easy, what with the crowd, and the pecking order and all the rest of it,” reflected Walshy, over a cold beer and sunset barbeque on the Red Bull house verandah. “But on a day like today, its definitely one of the best barrels in the world. And hopefully this is just the start of it.”