“This ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.”—David Byrne

It’s an hour since I left the water but my fingers are still fat with adrenaline; stiff like I were trying to type this with a set of rusted wire cutters. I eat a whole pot of oatmeal and feel nothing at all. The intensity of a close encounter with big Pipeline (from the shoulder) has left me completely depleted. I’ve seen underground master, Randall Paulson of Honolulu (a “townie” as some North Shore dudes might say) shoot a 12-footer, first reef fireball sent back from the dragon’s lair. And emerging from the fortress, sword raised, symbolic princess hugging his back, you still couldn’t hear the hundreds of cheering mouths from rooftops, trees, paparazzi-lined sand, as the whole ocean crashed its cymbals, beat its gongs, singing, “Bravo, you bad, bad man.”

It’s an impossibility to thoroughly appreciate BIG PIPE, until you’ve seen it from the channel looking in. The composure that’s needed to navigate the washing lineup, water churned thick as molasses; and courage to sit in the “{{{80}}}% chance of being cleaned by a sadistic set” zone, to spin the ride of your life. The complex knowledge of the break — these are all things too easily handed off as novelty — just little parts in the armor of a so-called “well-rounded” pro surfer. But when seen in the heart of this dangerous dance, these necessities are so much more than check boxes on a top surf brand’s “team rider” application. When activated these are a looking glass into a surfer’s heart and soul. Today the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters was put on hold due very extreme conditions, an afternoon onshore wind being of chief concern. But all morning, with glassy conditions, few of the worlds best wanted any part of The Pipe. While those who did: Paulson, Jamie O’Brien, Tamayo Perry, Bernardo Pigmeau, Kelly Slater, Tom Curren, Reef Macintosh, Danny Fuller and few others experienced what most of us will only dream of.