An Avalanche Hits the Op Pro Hawaii

EVENTS HELD SATURDAY: Round of 160 and Round of 144
CONDITIONS: Flat out front, bunny slopes at {{{Avalanche}}}
NATURE’S CALL: Haleiwa joins the rest of the North Shore and comes out of hibernation?
PREDICTIONS: The Op Pro Hawaii is won by someone on a fish.

Walking up to the Op Pro Hawaii on Saturday you were more than likely caught by surprise. With conditions at Haleiwa virtually flat, surfers had to decide whether to sit in the barely breaking waves out in front, or to brave the tiger shark frequented channel to catch foamy waves at Avalanche. "It's quite a dilemma," said Mason Ho after his first round victory. "It's a roll of the dice really, just have to watch it a lot and see which spot shuts down first." The swell never really materialized Saturday, and competitors did their best to make some heats in the strange conditions for the opening of the mens divisions.

Avalanche, generally considered a big-wave spot, is a left that breaks over a deep patch of reef just west of Haleiwa, a good quarter-mile out to sea. It's able to pick up more of the North swell that we're seeing now. And with conditions at Haleiwa becoming more and more dismal throughout the day, Avalanche offered longer rides and the opportunity to luck out with a good section -- the only bummer being the 15-minute paddle out across that deep channel. "I'm not looking forward to the paddle across that channel," said Jamie O'Brien just before his heat, holding a four-fin fish "that's where all the tiger sharks hang out." The shark tour boat that kept making passes into the harbor with the steel cage hanging off the back didn't exactly make the paddle go any quicker either.

You had to know it was going to be a strange day for the {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown of Surfing when Jamie O'Brien paddles out on a Rusty four-fin stub nose for his heat. And when the Hawaiians are worried about never having surfed the spot. "The playing field is definitely leveled over at Avalanche," said Pat Gudauskas about the conditions. "But guys like Flynn Novak and my brother Dane "Orangudane" Gudauskas can long arm it and get in super early, so that helps them"

Midway through the first round, when 14-year old John John Florence and the Brazilian hurricane, and small wave wonder Neco Padaratz couldn't make their heats in the area out front, Avalanche officially became the call. If those two can't do it out at Haleiwa, no one can, and for the rest of the day Avalanceh is where everyone sat.

Avalanche did have its moments in the sun though, like when Jason Shibata rattled a left for a 9.1 for the highest score of the day. Let's just hope one of these sleeping giants riles awake for the start of the week

[Special thanks to Tradewinds U Drive car rentals.]