North Shore Notes – 2005

Yesterday morning wasn't the sunniest. Well, the sun was technically out, but after Tahitian surfer Malik Joyeux was killed at Pipeline just after 10am, it was as though a pall of dark clouds had pulled up and settled in over the North Shore. Pipe, the ever indifferent natural beauty that she is, just kept on firing, and the sun hadn't gone any where either, but after the untimely passing of such an amazingly talented young tube rider, it all seemed a bit dark. Darker than it had just minutes before anyway, and an aura of raw emotion and sadness settled in.

Much of the day was spent reflecting on what had happened, and I can tell you this; thoughts about the nature of mortality and death, especially after such an abrupt and real reminder of their reality, can have a funny affect on a person. You start to think about all sorts of things that normally go on strictly behind the closed doors of your mind. You entertain the kind of stuff that only runs through your head after a funeral, or maybe late at night when you wake up scared for some reason and can't get back to sleep. But what I realized yesterday is that there exists perhaps not a cure, but maybe a mild salve that can be applied during such times to help lighten the load.

Every year, during the height of the North Shore season's madness, the faculty of Sunset Elementary organizes "Surf Night," an evening of cafeteria food, surf stars and stoked grommets. The idea is to pack the kids from the local community back into school after hours, and then bring in a hoard of their larger than life surf heroes so the two parties can rub elbows in the cramped confines of the cafeteria. This is all mixed with a healthy dose of poster signings, tons of free gear, and a raffle that doles out even more swag plus a few boards to the extremely lucky. Basically, it's a great idea. A great way for the surf industry and the surfers to give something back to a place that has given them so much, and last night, even after such an incredibly sad and dark day, the prevalent mood in the stuffy little room at Sunset Elementary was somehow jubilant.

Don't get me wrong, the evening's festivities were respectful of what had happened. Hell, half the guys in there had been his friend, so obviously there was a somber moment of silence in remembrance of Malik, several heartfelt bear hugs of condolence, and beforehand, even a few tears. But after the groms stormed in, it was game on. The room completely lit up, and I suppose that's the point here. Watching a little towhead in baggy shorts proudly showing his mom a hat scribbled with signatures was all the cheering up I needed, and if I felt that way just watching those guys do that for the kids I'm sure the sentiment resounded doubly for them. I'm sure it offered, for a moment at least, a bit of respite from the pains of the day.