Surfing Magazine’s 2008 Hawaii Couch Tour

Well, I’m on a couch as I write this, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a “tour” yet. I’m at the Kuilima condos, with my wife and two daughters. Way too comfortable and domesticated to classify as a couch tour. We even went to Waikiki today. I pushed the kids into a few sliders at Canoes, ate some shave ice and sat on Santa’s lap at Pearlridge (not me, weirdos; the kids). It was a different kind of tour today, a “get all of the family obligations out of the way so you can abandon them when the swell hits” kind of tour. And now, after slapping high-fives with SURFING’s Andrew Lewis yesterday at the airport and paying my dues in {{{Soft Top}}} rentals and Kuhio St. parking fees today, I’ve already stacked up enough chips to last at least through Sunday. Santa alone bought me a full day. So now, I’m planning on giving you plenty of details from the impact zone and big-wave flophouses from Mokuleia to Revelations.

It’s in the air here. An air of hope, a belief that there’s going to be a real cleansing of the overindulgent sins of the past with a series of big, pure swells starting Friday and knocking us into the following week. No reality shows. No stunt doubling for James Bond or 1000-dollar tabs at Lei Lei’s with “Hollywood people.” Just go-for-broke surfing in some really big waves since we’re all broke anyway.

It’s in the air here. This morning, at Backdoor and Off the Wall, a warbly 4-foot swell was running for some local bodyboarders, a few local surfers, Parko, Josh Kerr, Ben Dunn and New York’s Balaram Stack. A couple of open ones here and there, but not enough to get too much animation out of anyone. But the quiet chatter in the lineup was all about Friday. 20. Maybe 30. Someone even heard they were going to try to run the Eddie before the waiting period started. (The truth is, no, they’re not. And it’s not going to be 30. Maybe not even 20. But it should still be solid. And it’s always fun to dream big.)

It’s in the air here. Even up at the O’Neill World Cup and Roxy Pro at Sunset, they decided to not run any heats today despite what Pat O’Connell described as “cute little waves” coming off the Point. “I know it’s contestable,” said contest director Bernie Baker. “But the girls are insisting they want to surf it when it’s big. I told them, ‘Well, it’s going to be washing through, you’ll be in the channel, and it might be onshore.’ And they said, ‘That’s what we want!’ I said, ‘Be careful what you wish for, because it’s going to come true.'”

O’Connell knows this. He’s been playing Team Dad and coach for a few of his Hurley riders on the bubble. Today he took out Germany/Portugal surfer Marlon Lipke, gave him the Sunset breakdown and put him through the paces. Standing at 14th in the WQS rankings, Lipke needs a quarterfinal finish or better to secure his spot on next year’s ASP World Tour. “Pat says we’re surfing it every chance we get before my heat,” said Marlon. “I’m ready.”

But Pat, like everyone else who isn’t competing, is really focusing on one thing at the moment. His rider Rob Machado blew everyone’s mind on a 5’8″ alaia at Pipe today. Kalani Robb is going {{{Focus}}} 2.0 at {{{Rocky}}} Lefts. Brett Simpson, Marlon and Yadin Nicol are all gunning for a tour berth. But all we could talk about was Friday and beyond and what’s in store for the North Shore. Out-of-this-world Outer Reefs? Waimea mayhem? Who knows, but Pat isn’t too excited to take part in any of it. When he mentioned the crowds, I suggested he join us for a first-light Waimea session. “No way, dude,” he said. “If I’m going to ride a huge wave, at least I want everyone to see it.”

It’s in the air here.

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