2005 North Shore Week In Review: 11-19-05 to 11-26-05

Flat spells. Threatening storms. Deteriorating promises. Ridiculous sunsets. Blazing heat. Every day this week has been somehow distinctly different. Intense, and kinda average. Poopy surf. Mopey surfers. You wake up, the sun sets, you go to sleep. Maybe tomorrow, right? Maybe…

But wait, hold on, what's that? The swell that broke all our hearts is starting to show. And it's good! Quick, everyone, to the beach!

WHO ARRIVED: We asked around at the airport for some famous-guy sightings and they just shook their heads. Nobody? Well, OK, Herbie Fletcher cruised in to start work on his Wave Warriors revival video. Rob Machado showed up the two days after Thanksgiving with his lovely ladies in tow, and {{{CJ}}} and fam did the same. Sal Masekela is here "strictly vacationing" – and has been running up the bar tab at the Turtle Bay pool. Tara Dakides flew over to stand by her man, Taylor Knox, and probably do a little shredding of her own. The only one missing now? The man of the hour, Mr. Seven-Time World Champ himself. We're sure he's just being fashionably late.

WHO LEFT: Uh, what, is it time to go yet? Can’t we stay a little while longer? I promise I’ll do better at Sunset.

SUPER SESSIONS: John John Florence had Pipe to himself. Granted, it was only head-high and granted, head-high means three foot, and granted, he only stayed out for twenty minutes or so, but all to himself regardless. Yep. Been that kinda week. Some of the best surfing was the bodysurfing. Each evening around sunset, seems like half the WCT would cruise down to the water's edge for an end of day dip, cool off, bodywhomp, and done. But you look out at the horizon and you can just tell. {{{Storm}}}'s a coming. Won't be long now. In fact, it did arrive on Sunday. Caught the North Shore sleeping and forced some O'Neill Sunset cuppers to paddle out half unsober and totally unawake. But a few brave opportunists — including Nathan Fletcher, Peter Mel and Tyler Smith — paddled out at mondo Rockpile for a beating or three. Nate bagged a double barrel on one, while everyone else was stoked to get out of there in one piece. Nate's performance was so inspiring, young Alex Gray and a buddy paddled out to the boil-riddled, deepwater suckup later that afternoon — right when the extreme north swell really started pumping. And you know what? He charged. Straight over the ledge, under and through giant cleanup sets. Alex was getting it on in some of the nastiest Pile your correspondent's ever seen. "Sooooo stoked I paddled out there," he beamed. "That session made my trip already, and I've only been here three days." Like we said: it's been that kind of week.

ODD-SESSION: Jamie O'Brien and a crew of frothy groms dug out the Waimea Rivermouth and had a stinky river sesh on the outflow humps. Not all-time stinky rivermouth, but a good enough cure for the flat-spell blues.

POWER SQUAD: We asked A.I.-slayer Nathan Hedge one sunsetty moment: Big day? "Oh, three surfs, two hours of tennis, game of footy and an hour of yoga," was the Hog's reply. Holy Fitness, Fatman! Hedgey, Mick Fanning, photographer Jon Frank and journalist Matt Griggs have formed a Aussie/Rip Curl power foursome. You never see 'em apart, and they're always doing something grotesquely healthy. Stetching. Running. Playing soccer. Swimming. Group yoga sessions on the beach. It's absolutely disgusting. Get some beer in ya, boys, you're a disgrace to your country.

NIGHTLIFE: Bud Light threw a big sports costume bash for Freddy Patacchia's 'CT Rookie Year Homecoming (or something like that, no one bothered to ask the actual reason — who can argue with the words: FREE BEER) and everyone was out in full dcor. No, nobody dressed as a "pro surfer" — come on! But there were plenty of pro wrestlers, golfers, swimmers, volleyballers, black belts and drunken gamblers (hey, gambling's not a sport; oh well, maybe that guy just didn't dress up). A few more send-offs went down this week. Jake Paterson said Luke Egan's retirement party in Kauai (is he starting a tour of these?) was a real bender. "Didn't even surf," he said. "But definitely drank lots of beer." Lifeguard/bodysurf legend Mark Cunningham had his retirement party, attended by the island's heaviest watermen. The dress code? Strictly a condition:black affair. And a big happy numero uno goes to "Sebby" Williams (Ross and Jen's daughter), who celebrated her special day in grand Hawaiian fashion at the Williams compound. Next time, let's tell the rain it's not invited.

CHESSER LIVES: Or at least he continues to flip us off at the annual Chesser Thanksgiving dinner at the Hill house, where a prominently displayed photo of our fallen hero taunts us every year. Jeannie Chesser, Racquel Hill and the fam did it once again, with a surf contest, enough food to feed the Westside and stuffed bellies in the name of Cheese. Ross Williams cleaned up this year, winning the contest, the big cheesehead and the dubious distinction as "Photo Slut of the Year." Uh, thanks, Chris and Jack.

CRAZY FRICKIN' ANECDOTE: This one comes straight from the desk of {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown announcer extraordinaire, Dave Stanfeild. Take it away Dave: "I'm up in the announcer's towers at the end of the day, and I spot two specks on the horizon, sitting way deep at Backyards, practically Freddyland. I didn't pay much attention to 'em, and later I'm down on the beach interviewing Mick Fanning after the final heat of the day and I see one of the guys out there catch a wave, from the far outside all the wave to the beach, right in front of the judges tower. [That's a very long wave. – Ed.] Turns out it was 17-year-old Mason Ho (and friend). He told me, 'It was the longest, most incredible wave I've ever ridden.' I asked Mason if he'd ever done anything similar and he said, 'No, never.' Then I asked if he'd ever seen anybody ride a wave that size and that distance before. 'Sure,' he said, 'my dad.'"

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS: Go out to Aussie pro Steve Clements, who was seriously injured at Off the Wall on Wednesday. No one knows exactly what happened, but apparently, he pulled into one of the shallow lefts and must have hit reef. He was knocked unconscious and, after being rescued, had to be resuscitated. As of post-time, Clements is still in the hospital, status unknown. "Those 6-foot days are the most dangerous ones," said Aamion Goodwin. "It's so shallow out there, and it's too easy to take your guard down." We'll keep you posted on Clements' condition as soon as we get word.

FINAL WARNING: And if that isn't enough to scare you straight, Tamayo Perry made a public appearance on Sunday, his first since being nearly scalped by an errant board 10 days ago at Pipe. "50 staples and a whole lot of migraines, but I'm coming around," he said. The jagged, 8-inch gash runs almost the entire length of the top of his head — all because an inexperienced kid out there didn't know what to do. "Some little sponsored kid has a smoking gun out there," he said, with no intention of pun. "My hair and skin is in someone's rail, and I know he knows he did it. Something has to be done about all these clueless kids clogging the lineup before someone gets killed."

So strap on that helmet, glue up your Diamond Tip, and maybe throw in a shield, shoulder pads and a cup while you're at it. Things are in full swing now, and only the Teflon Men are left standing.