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From Sarge, North Shore, Sunday November 28th, 2004.
THERE’S no doubt the Hawaiian Islands are the realisation of the word ‘paradise’, but today, Sunday November 27th on the North Shore of Oahu, it’s not quite shaping up to the idyllic images that one might otherwise dream of. It’s as good as flat, and passing rainsqualls are continually dousing those out and about looking for waves or something to do in lieu of surfing. After the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing 6* WQS got underway on Friday, the first day of its waiting period, in clean and classic 6-8’, the swell dropped off again yesterday to around the 3-4’+ mark. The swell was formerly predicted to jump today, but alas, the dawn has revealed vastly diminished energy in the ocean. No contest today.

Bede Durbidge
Bede Durbidge is one of Australia's hottest up and coming juniors, and he was leading the way at Rocky Rights yesterday. The North Stradbroke shredder looks really solid in the WQS ratings and solid to take that huge step up to the WCT that all aspire to.

All reports are that the season here so far has been left wanting in the swell department. There have only really been three decent swells here since early October. The Excel event at Sunset scored the first of those, then the Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa reaped two good days of 6-8’, which was shared obviously by the frothing mobs up on the main North Shore strip, and then last Friday was beautifully clean. The weather has been exceptional the past few weeks with clear skies, little or no wind, and some very hot days, but other than those aforementioned swells, the wave department has been wallowing around the 3-4’ mark. Though it’s not as bad as last year’s sand clogging, heaps of the reefs are still well covered with sand, some big swells needed to clean them out and allow the natural contours of this wave haven to grind into its majestic form.

Raoni Monteiro
Raoni Monteiro was in good form on the Rocky Rights, shining amongst a big cast of Brasileiros out there yesterday.

One of the most clogged up reefs at the moment is the Pipeline and Off The Wall stretch, where Australian Heath Walker went down in near catastrophic form last week. The effervescent natural footer was amongst a huge throng of surfers and photographers who were clustered there trying to make something of what were basically six footers that could only loosely be classified as right handers, more likely closeouts, running headlong and all to quickly into eight foot lefts clamping from across at Insanities. The swell has reportedly been focussing more potently and size-wise over in that direction, down towards Rockpiles and not focussing on the main Pipe/Backdoor peak.

Being a Saturday, the crew from downtown Honolulu were out in force on the North Shore yesterday, but as usual, there was plenty to go around, and always a barrel to find.

As surfers shuffled up and down the coast that same morning, checking all the spots sizing up conditions and crowds, photographer Jon Frank looked out from the Rip Curl house at OTW and mused aloud “Is this what surfing has come to?” The oddly positioned crowd in the lineup were jostling for those shutdowns, whilst a proliferation of equally desperate photographers were poking water housings at anyone game enough to pull in to the heavily closing sections. After Frankie’s comment, Heath Walker took the very next drop and was severely smashed as a double-up came down on him like a proverbial house. As at first bemused then concerned crew looked on, the yet unidentified surfer then went over the falls, before disappearing, his board tomb-stoning as a further two waves stormed through, and tinges of red appeared in the water. Pulled up and taken to shore, Heath was flown out to medical help in Honolulu where he remains in hospital, thankfully in good spirits despite having a sizeable scalp gash, a lacerated ear, a busted collar-bone and rib, as well as a recovering collapsed lung. Our world champ Andy Irons also came to grief out there earlier in the occupation, getting thrust into a cave and scrapping his back, a gash in his head needing several staples.

Josh Fuller
Josh Fuller is a strong natural footer who surfs with the trademark rail work that Aussie grommets are raised to aim for and maintain.

Local Pancho Sullivan is one of many who are becoming increasingly concerned with the amount of photographers in the water at Backdoor and Off The Wall, particularly in this the competition season where surfers and photographers alike congregate from all around the globe. It is becoming both impractical and dangerous. One morning last week Pancho took off and went straight, with his arms held up in the air, asking “What can I do?” there simply being no room to manoeuvre on the wave because of the amount of cameras and operators in the wave’s wall.

Pancho Sullivan
Pancho Sullivan was there at Sunset this morning checking it at first light, but the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing was an instant no-go with only 1-2' conditions off the point.

There will be little action around the North Shore today, some 1-2’ Sunset Point waves probably best of what is around. After Friday’s pulse and clean conditions, Off The Wall was indistinguishable yesterday, a wobbly and full-ish wave that left a lot to be desired, making all that sand on the reef very obvious. Many of the crew were out at Rocky Rights and Gas Chambers. Being a Saturday, it was super-crowded in the morning, though clean and much more rippable than most spots. A sparser cast took over for the afternoon session which featured Raoni Monteiro standing out from a sizeable Brasilian contingent. New Jersey’s Dean Randazzo was the session’s wave magnet, whilst we also saw some big turns from the likes of Bede Durbidge, Dayan Neve, Nathan Webster and Luke Hitchings. Today, the O’Neill event and continuing WQS ratings battle and scramble have been put on hold in anticipation of a rise in swell predicted tonight. Here’s hoping!