Corran Addison, the owner of Imagine Eco stand up paddle boards, is currently in Oahu, Hawaii. While most of us spent valentines day in a more sedate fashion, Corran decided to tackle Waimea, stand up paddle surfing. He tells us all about it.
I got to surf Waimea bay again this morning, Valentines day. This is my second time surfing the wave, and it was generally bigger the last time I surfed it, but the swell was saying 10ft Hawaiian though there were a few rogue sets closer to 12'.
I only got one wave today, an average sized one for the day, but as always it was a thrill. This time I had a 9' Enigma, rather than the 8'5" Cutback that I had last time. The board was better, but the conditions were much harder. Choppy and surgy, it was hard to remain standing while waiting for sets, so I sat down a lot while waiting. This was my first mistake.
After about 30 or 40 mins of waiting for the right wave, suddenly all the surfers started to paddle frantically outside. I jumped up and spotted a huge rogue set coming in. I paddled and paddled as fast as I could, and made it barely over the first wave, a giant monster with a face well over 25ft. Behind it was a bigger one, and it was already jacking up. I paddled and paddled again as hard as I could, wishing I had a longer faster board, and this time right as I was going over the lip it began to break. I dove over the lip as I reached the top, hoping my board would follow. It did. As I broke the surface, my heart sunk as a third even bigger wave was looming towards me. I did what any idiot in my position would do. I dove down as deep as I could, swimming frantically until I got to the end of my 9' leash. Then there was a massive jerk on my leg as the wave broke right over the board, and felt myself take off backwards underwater like a victim from a Jaws movie. Rag dolled under the water, my leg feeling like it would get ripped off, I began to hope the leash would break or the dual leash plugs would pull out. I was not so lucky.
Eventually the pressure came off, and I swam to the surface, breaking for air just in time to see a wave looming over me. Before I could even react to dive under, it broke almost square on my head, knocking the wind out of me, and once again, the board took off dragging me deeper and deeper. 10 seconds... 15 seconds and finally the pressure backed off, and I swam to the surface, desperate for air. One big breath, and I began again to turn to dive under as yet another wave broke just outside of where I was. I got one or two kicks under before the wave crashed into my board, and I took off again being drug backwards and down. Why won't you break I thought. Serves me right for making such a strong leash and leash plugs.
Finally, I popped up, and looked out. The set was over, but I could see the next set looming, approaching. I jumped onto the board and began to paddle frantically towards the channel. The first wave was approaching fast, a rider on it already, the inside broken. I knew right then that I would not make the channel, and another beating did not appeal to me. Dropping to my stomach right on the tail of the board, I gripped the paddle, and waited for the impact hoping it would belly surf me out in front. I could not take other set on the head! Luck was with me, finally. The wave crashed into my back, engulfed me, and then spat me out like a bar of soap. Edging over, I angled for the channel and rode it out as the wave faded. I jumped back up, and paddled as hard as I could until I was well into the channel, where I sat back down, panting, dizzy and humbled.
Looking over into the path of the incoming waves I saw the surfer who'd been stuck inside at the same time as me, swimming for the beach, one piece of his shattered board washing into the rocks, the other no where to be seen. I considered going to get him, and then though the better of it. Another beating like that I was afraid I would not survive. I will let you know that he finally made it in. As I sat recovering, the channel slowly took me back out into the lineup. I sat there a good 20 or 30 minutes, just watching the guys getting waves, good waves, thinking... I don't really want to be out here any more. My board is too short and wide and rockered for this... and I was no longer in the mood to get trounced like that again. So I sat and waited until finally a wave with my name on it appeared. Coming right at me, jacking perfectly for my position, about 10' (close to 20' face), and clean.
I jumped up, spun and paddled my ass off onto it, taking the drop, bending my knees with a wide stance, bouncing and jumping across the chop until the left closed out and crashed like thunder next to me. I stayed on, making the drop, and rode it in to the beach, where I began the dicy and technical game of getting in through the famous Wiamea shorebreak. Another 10 minutes of careful waiting for the perfect moment, and I paddled in, jumped off and ran up the beach before a shore wave took me out. I had given my camera to this family on the beach and said that if they got a chance, to take a pic of me. They took just one, right as I was paddling onto the wave, before the autofocus went mad and they stopped shooting. Thats Ok... I got the shot as I was dropping in.
A fair reward for the beating I took. And that's how I spent Valentines day.