Well it was a dream come true for me as we left Vancouver on Dec 9th for our 10 day trip to Oahu’s North Shore. The North Shore in the winter means only one thing to me, big, legendary, historic surf. Before i could get to the North Shore though i was there to support Jen in her Honolulu marathon(it’sin my contract). We were also travelling with close friends Jenni Chancey and Leaf’s fan Darren Ashby. Jenni also ran the marathon and both Jen’s ran well competing against 22000 other runners. Jen ran a a solid 3:20 battling Achilles tendinitis and a strong headwind. Jenni ran a great race as well coming in just under 4 hours. I know both girls wanted more but Darren and I admired the commitment and effort. The last time i was in Oahu was this past July when Bodie Shandro and i raced our standup paddleboard in the Molokai2Oahu World Championships. The south swell at Waikiki was much bigger and consistent then but it still felt good to be there in the shadow of the Duke Kahanamoku statue. It was great to be in the heat and humidity of Hawaii and we were not missing any powder at Whistler so that made me feel good too.

11 Time World Champion Kelly Slater

Arriving on Oahu our timing could not have been better as a 12-15 ft swell had hit the North Shore the day we arrived which signaled the start to the Billabong Pipeline Masters. Not only would we see the historic North Shore but we would be able to watch the best surfers in the world compete for the prestigious title and the final piece of the Triple Crown. The marathon was on the 11th but we headed straight to North shore the day before to watch the final day of the Pipeline Masters. I have been buying surf magazines and looking at pictures of the North shore for close to 25 years, growing up in Sudbury and 4500kms away from the nearest surf break. Finally i was here. We all got to the beach early and set up right in front of Pipeline with the wash almost coming to our feet. The crowd would swell as the morning went on. I was mesmerized by what i saw. The Bonzai Pipeline is one of the deadliest waves in the world that breaks over a nasty coral reef and showcases the skills of the best surfers and watermen in the world. We watched the quarters, semi’s and finals. I was most excited to see Kelly Slater, the 39 year old, 11-time world champion and king of surfing. He was right there in front of me running to the water for his heat with John John Florence. There were camera’s everywhere. John John has been killing it this year and was super hot and had already scored a couple of perfect 10’s throughout the contest. Florence basically had Kelly beat but i got to see the magic and mystique of Kelly as he pulled a way back come from behind win over John with less than 2 minutes remaining in the heat.

Kelly pitted for his come from behind win vs John John

Incredible. It’s not too often you get a chance to watch an athlete in the same caliber as a Michael Jordan or a Wayne Gretzky. These guys are so good. Also, it’s not too often that you get a chance to have free(except for $10 parking) front row seats to watch a guy like this. Crowds follow this guys every move. Kelly’s magic ran out in the Semi’s as he was beat by past Triple crown winner and 3 time world champion runner up Joel Parkinson. Joel was then beat in the finals by a hard charging Kierran Perrow who lost the Pipeline Master’s himself in the final seconds of last years contest to Jeremy Flores. With his quarter final appearance Hawaiian, John John Florence became the 19 year old winner of the Van’s Triple Crown Title.

Fallen Hawaiian warriors

After the contest we headed back to Honolulu for the marathon but we came back up to the North shore for five days after the race. Honolulu is pretty busy and we wanted the country feel. We rented a vehicle and stayed at the Turtle Bay resort at the tip of the island which was a good base for our time up there. The weather was windy and cool with off and on rain but the weather got better and hotter as the week went on. After not being in the water for 3 days and stoked to surf I finally rented a standup board and got in the water. Not everywhere does it break like Pipeline(thank goodness)but the swell was also dropping. Over the course of the week we surfed at places like the Boneyard’s, Chun’s and a bunch of times at Haleiwa/Puena Point. I was spending close to 6 hours a day in the water and had a chance to surf a number of different boards. The first one i took out was a 10′ Boardworks EPX, it was a nice stable beginner surf board and seemed to surf pretty good. I enjoyed the stability and ease of getting into waves. It was a good first board to try out as i was getting my feet wet on the Northshore. The second day i rented a C4 9’8″ Raimana that i surfed at Chun’s. It was set up with a quad fin which made it more unstable, and tougher to get into the waves but once i got used to it, the board performed really well and was pretty fast. The last two days up north i went to Uncle Bryan’s and rented a 9’8″ Paddle Surf Hawaii Ripper. I had always admired these boards shaped by Hawaiian Blane Chambers. He knows how to build an incredible board and that’s all he focuses on, paddle surfing. They seem to be the board of choice here in Hawaii, and Uncle Bryan swear’s by them. I also got a glowing review from NorthWest Paddle surfer Tom Haney, who loves his PSH All Arounder. Even with a thruster set up this board was less stable than the C4, with very little volume in the tail, but man was it fun to ride on the wave. It was fast and snappy. There were a number of guys in the lineup who were asking about the board as they could see that i was having a lot of fun on it surfing the rights and lefts inside of Pueana Point. The best times had was when we were all in the water together, Darren doing a great job paddlesurfing for the first time and the girls enjoying the long rides on their longboards.

Ummm…..Waimea Shorebreak.

Another large swell hit the north shore again which kept us out of the water for a day but gave us the opportunity to head back to Pipeline to watch it go off. And go off it did. The waves were much, much larger that what we had seen on the final day of the Pipeline Master. Large waves were breaking and feathering out on second reef and some were even breaking way out on third reef. It made me think of how big the swell gets when the outside reefs become towable.

Massive Pipeline Swell

It was incredible and i was blown away by the performances and the ability of these surfers to manage the extreme conditions that they had to deal with. We also had a chance to go to Waimea Bay and watch the 10 foot shorebreak and a swell that was just starting to break outside at Waimea. Waimea, before places like Mavericks, Jaws, Cortez Banks, Shipsterns, and Dungeons, was the premier big wave break in the world. It is still the proving grounds for waterman world wide. Check out this amazing breakdown of Waimea Bay by the late Surfline founder Sean Collins.

Waimea starting to break. Not big enough for The Eddie

It is also the sight for the historic Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Invitational. Eddie Aikau was a legendary Hawaiian waterman and North Shore lifeguard who was lost at sea trying to go for help on his paddleboard after the traditional canoe he was in with crew members swamped in the dangerous Kaiwi Channel. It was 1978 and he was 31. On his passing the term, “Eddie Would Go” was born meaning that when the surf was XXL and no one would dare, Eddie would. The phrase originated during the first Eddie contest. The waves were huge and the conditions were extremely dangerous. While the contest organizers were discussing whether to put it on, Mark Foo looked at the conditions and said “Eddie would go.” The phrase stuck and the Eddie went. The slogan is now seen on Quiksilver stickers and tshirts all around the world. As we speak, the contest, which is held only when the waves hit a 20ft. minimum, is now in the waiting period.

Our trip back to Waikiki took us along the beautiful windward side of the island and past places like Kailua Bay, Sandy Beach and Haunauma Bay. I had time to stop in to C4 headquarters where i met team rider Greg Pavao. They set me up with a C4 Slingblade which was the narrowest board i have ever surfed at 27inches wide with not a lot of volume. At times i had trouble standing on it in the chop but wow, did it surf well. Fast, snappy and i could even make my way to the front of the board on it. I had a real challenge though when the wind came up. I surfed with sea turtles at Queens, Canoe’s and Pops and it made me think of the great memories of surfing the summer swell with Bodie Shandro in July after the M20 race.

Barreled, this guy was awesome.

One of the highlights for me in Hawaii was when i hooked up with Scott McPhail, Doc, and Jay for a Hawaii Kai downwinder. Scott is an amazing guy who I had met at the Molokai race and who the night before had treated our group for dinner at one of his restaurants in Waikiki, P.F. Changs. Amazing restaurant, service and food. I rode the 16ft SIC unlimited board in 15-25 knot winds over the 8 mile run. These guys know how to build a downwind board. Wish i had this for the Molokai race, what a blast, i was so stoked. We finished at the Outrigger Canoe club and i realized that this is the specific training i needed for Molokai. If i could only do this 3 times a week. The guys were animals to paddle with and kept me chasing for the hour and 15 minutes. I fell in twice but quickly got the hang of the rudder system and revelled at how well these boards perform in the big bumps. So much fun. We also spent one day heading to the beautiful west side of the island and made our way up to Yokohama Bay, with miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches. Darren and Jenni took time to snorkel the clear water with turtles and a variety of fish while Jen and i soaked up the heat of the Hawaiian Islands. Along the way up to Yokohama Bay i was excited to see Makaha Point, another historic break. Makaha produces some of the largest waves in Hawaii and it was here during the swell of the century in 1969 that Greg Noll rode the largest wave ever paddled. The swell was so big that the whole of north shore was closed out and being evacuated. Greg made his way to Makaha and into the history books. Today it was flat.

Charging! Check out the board!

We headed home on the 19th, tanned and stoked on life. I just love the lifestyle of being able to get in the water everyday and surf. I was happy to be coming home to the west coast to get ready for Christmas. I found myself thinking about board shorts when i managed to get a surf in at Jordan River on Christmas Eve. I surfed in my 5/4/3 wetsuit, along side a couple of locals and numerous large sized logs(high tide). There were no sea turtles but i felt at home.

Next up is a trip to Vernon for Bob Purdy’s Paddle for the Planet Celebration on December 31st. Bob has paddled everyday this year in order to bring awareness to the our planets environmental needs and to raise funds for the David Suzuki Foundation.

Thanks to Jen, Jenni and Darren for an amazing trip. So much fun sharing waves, brew’s, cigars and stoke. I look forward to the next one!

If you go to Oahu a few things we liked:
PF Changs, Honolulu: Just go.
Lulu’s, Honolulu: Great surf feel, sports, looks out over Waikiki breaks, good burgers.
Haleiwa Bakery, Haleiwa: Amazing sandwiches, awesome ice cream cookies
Kona Brewery, Hawaii Kai: Its a Hawaiian Brewery, nuff said.

Coffee Gallery, Haleiwa
North Shore Board Rentals and Lessons:
Uncle Bryan’s
Maui Brewery Big Swell IPA, Foodland
Kona Brewery Firerock IPA, On Tap.
Eddie Would Go
The Wave
Riding Giants
Blue Horizon
Hawaiian Wood Carvings:
Carver: Maile Niu, Kaneohe, Oahu

Front Row seats to the greatest show on earth!


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