When things go from bad to worse.
We had been living around the corner from Sunset, at the start of the little Velzyland Bay, and it was an amazing location. We could see the lefts reeling off from Backyards, Phantoms was right in front of us, and we looked straight into the barrels of Velzyland, a perfect but crowded, spinning little barrel.
We would usually surf Backyards, a fun little section between Sunset and Velzyland, with the odd good ones but mainly very average waves.
I remember as a highlight, Jamie Sterling and friends paddling out to the outside reef called Phantoms one massive morning, and catching a few sets while we sat around and ate our muesli.
Then it happened. One sunny little morning I was watching three-foot barrels, when suddenly the break was deserted. There was no one out.
I headed off, running down the beach. My needs were modest. Four or five waves would suffice. I would hopefully get barreled on every one of them, and would be able to claim them at my leisure later. Peter King was flopping about in the channel, getting ready to film, and it looked like it was going to be a thrilling little session.
As I started paddling out I saw people gathering on the beach, getting ready to join me. With a sinking feeling in my gut I got to the takeoff zone, caught one wave and went for a little floater and fell off. Within a few minutes the place was incredibly crowded with locals – dads and groms – and it became impossible to get a wave. It seemed that I had been joined by some bizarre moke father-and-son session. I started getting desperate, paddling for waves that I wasn’t supposed to, in the hopes of a talented young Hawaiian surfer possibly falling off. I was frustrated, couldn’t buy a wave out there, when things suddenly got exponentially worse.
Kala Alexander, the 'charismatic’ leader of the Wolf Pack paddled up to me, sat up on his board, and gave me the death stare. Granted, I was the only red-head in the water, but my options were startlingly clear – and I meekly beat a hasty retreat across the channel to the wave called Freddyland, face burning with a little bit of panic. As anyone who has been in that position can attest to, it is not nice to be singled out by Kala, no matter what the situation.
I had been watching some goofy footer doing some nice little turns, and it was clearly a better proposition than getting my face smashed. It wasn’t very good, but I managed to get a few closeout lefts that quickly faded after they shut down. At least I was secure in the knowledge that wasn’t going to get beaten up, or get in any one’s way.
A really good double up came through, kind of joining a wave behind it with a little kink. I paddled hard and kicked but couldn’t quite get it. I kicked harder, and as is prone to happen to you in Hawaii, the wave suddenly lurched and I went over the falls lying down.
As I flew through the air, in front of a now packed beach, on my luminous green and orange surfboard I had borrowed from the house, I saw Luke Egan out of the corner of my eye, turning off the bottom. He had caught the wave on the outside section and had turned around the double up section, putting himself directly underneath me. I landed on him, but he deflected me viciously, as he was on possibly the only good wave Freddyland had produced all season, and I was sent floundering.
When I surfaced, grumpy Luke was glaring at me from the channel and shaking his head. Totally mortified, I was so ‘fuck this’ by now, and paddled away as fast as I could and ran back to the house to pour myself a rum and watch all the surfing going down from the safety of the balcony.