When I was in Jr. High my brother Tim and I used to read all of the surf magazines religiously. Most of our favorite shots and stories were from the north shore of Oahu. There’s so many legendary spots up there: Sunset, Off the Wall, Rocky Point, Waimea – they all had their allure, but Pipeline had a place of reverence in our minds. It was like some sort of holy, watery temple, that embodied everything we desired and feared most in the sport of surfing. So whenever my brother and I had the chance we would make the pilgrimage to pipe to surf or at least watch.
Because pipe is one of the best waves on the planet, it can be a struggle to get a good wave out there. The first time my brother and I ever surfed pipe, I remember being excited and nervous. The main factor is the reef. It can be a challenging wave, and because it’s so shallow you can get hurt pretty easily even on small days. If you’re in the wrong spot at the wrong time you end up bouncing off the bottom. Hard. Most of the times I’ve surfed out there I exit with a bruise or a cut somewhere. But pipe is so good that it’s worth the wait and the fight to get a good one.
The other factor is the crowd. For “haole’s” (white non- Hawaiians) like us – getting a wave at crowded pipe is a tricky thing. You wait your turn, you respect the locals, you keep your mouth shut, you keep it mellow, and mostly you wait for the scraps. You can’t fight the pecking order: You’re an outsider, it’s not your spot. You wait it out and you fight it out on the inside. So usually that’s where my brother and I would find ourselves: scrapping it out with each other and the rest of the Jr High kids, trying to get the better wave.
So yesterday when Chad, Tim, and I found ourselves on Oahu with a few hours of spare time we headed straight for pipe. It looked like an early morning dream: a mellow day with no wind, fun waves, and only a few folks out- clean and beautiful. We paddled out, and I felt like I was in Jr. High again, except for the competition. It was magical: clear water, blue skies, and uncrowded, fun waves. It was a gift- no fighting, just friends and brothers sharing waves at one of the best spots on the planet.
And then in that same dreamlike state Adriano De Souza paddled out and started yelling to me. “Bro, that was a sick barrel! Such a good one.” I was excited and confused. First, Adriano is an amazing pro surfer who is not impressed easily. He became the world champion a few days later riding waves at Pipeline. Second, I hadn’t really gotten a great barrel in a while so I was scratching my head trying to figure out which wave he was talking about.