Early Season North Shore 2002

You can always tell winter is right around the corner when a pack of girls are lying on the beach wearing G-string bikinis, directly in front of the infamous Volcom house at Pipeline—and it’s only 7:30 a.m. The sun has yet to clear the mountains, but for some reason, there they are, flaunting the goods. By 10:00 a.m., the same pack of females are wrestling with each other—putting on a wonderful show for the boys.

After a disappointing last season and talk of a possible El Niño, the mood on the North Shore is one of great anticipation and pent-up, ready-to-explode surfing energy. As Jason Shibata put it, “Last year was so bad, this year everybody’s just gonna be going for broke. TransWorld SURF Photographer Brian Bielmann and Hawai’i Editor Justin Cote cruised the North Shore during mid October 2002, spoke with a panel of talented surfers who call this magical place home, and found out what’s indicative of this time of year—what kind of training they’ve been doing in preparation for the winter season, who they’re looking forward to watching surf, and some predictions for the upcoming winter. By the way, a skeleton was found underneath the Volcom house.

In early October, while excavating dirt to build a special groupie-proof “panic room” for Bruce, a skeleton was found buried under the house. Stop. Don’t say what you were just thinking. The bones were that of a young child dating back to before haole colonization. According to Mike Strada, owner of the Volcom house and the adjacent Pipe house formerly owned by Gerry Lopez, there’re burial sites all over the North Shore: “Apparently they’re pretty common. A Hawai’ian priest came out here and did a blessing. We returned the bones right where we found them and then put some rocks around the bones to kind of protect it. The Hawai’ians said because we’re protecting it and treating the remains with respect, it should turn out okay—no bad spirits.”

What signifies the beginning of the North Shore surf season to you? Besides people asking you stupid questions.Myles Padaca: The first couple of swells we get, it’s like spring training in baseball. What really signifies it is the Xcel contest at Sunset, because it’s the warm-up for the Triple Crown which he won last year and everyone starts to show up.

Tory Barron: When the water is kinda dirty. All summer the dirt just sits on the ocean floor. The swells come in, and you see a dust line in the surf, but the outside is still blue. Also, there’s no sand on the reef, and you get all scraped up.

Jason Shibata: No more airplanes, no more airports, no board bags. I get to come home and just cruise with all my friends.John John Florence: The Pipe Masters are coming soon, Bruce is here, and all the pros are coming.

T.J. Barron: There aren’t too many guys out from Japan, Brazil, and Australia. Not yet, at least.Ross Williams: Everyone’s getting back in the water, taking guns out of the closet. The whole vibe it brings is cool—getting ready for three, four, five months of surf.

Fred Pattachia: When the first big swells come in and wash away all the sand, you know it’s starting.

Tamayo Perry: Early season swells stir up the bottom sediment that’s stagnant all summer causing the nicks and licks you get from hitting the reef to take a lot longer to heal.

What sort of training do you use to prepare for the season?

Myles: I do this yoga called ashtanga yoga. It focuses on ujjayi breathing and deep relaxation, where we can practice visualization. Like, “Okay, you’re in a heat, catch the four best waves.” Meditation, visualization—that kind of stuff definitely works.

Tory: I mountain bike all the way to the top of the Kahuku motocross track and then ride back down through all kinds of trails. I figure, you got the tools, use ’em.

John John: Skateboarding when it’s not raining. Surfing Pinballs, trying to get ready for the Xcel. Editor’s Note: How many of us surfed a contest at Sunset at age ten?

T.J.: Bodysurfing a lot, goi to Ke Iki, sand-sliding, getting some barrels. I think bodysurfing helps you with your landings wipeouts—you gotta twist, so you don’t break your neck or something.

Ross: Bodysurfing. I love it. It’s good to do that kind of thing this time of year. It’s so fun to go out and welcome that set wave to just hit you in the head. It feels good. Kinda clears your lungs out.

Fred: I’ve been working with Dr. George Cromack (the same guy Myles works with), doing yoga. I jump rope, run on the beach with my dogs—more endurance and stamina training than weights.

Tamayo: I do a lot of cave diving over the summer, play basketball— cross-training stuff. I like to do things that are fun, so it keeps you into it, keeps you occupied. I stay away from the monotonous workouts.

What are your predictions for this winter?

Myles: All the boys are coming together, especially at Pipe. It seems like there’s a really strong group with all the Kaua’i and outer-island guys hanging out at the Pipe house. I think it’s coming back to where it was years ago, when all the older guys were regulating. This crew now is pretty gnarly, which is good ’cause it keeps everyone in line. You gotta have that shit here—it gets outta control, especially at Pipe.

Tory: Following the whole movie hype, I think this winter is gonna be crazy. You know, the whole surfing mecca thing.

Shibata: My prediction is a lot of guys getting knocked out … and Andy Irons is gonna win the world title.

John John: Kelly and Bruce surfing really good.

Who’s going to win the world title? Andy?

John John: No, Bruce.

He can’t win it.

John John: Yeah, he can.

T.J.: Andy or Bruce, one of them is gonna win the Pipe Masters.Ross: I think we’re going to see a lot of good Pipe this year.Fred: I think it’s gonna be an insane winter. Everybody is super psyched, and a lot of people are out to make a name for themselves.

Tamayo: They’re claiming this is going to be a light El Nino, whatever the heck that means. From what I’ve seen, El Niño swells come in so quick they’re almost unrideable.

What’s new with the boards this winter?

North Shore Shaper Jeff Bushman: Teahupo’o was the big eye-opener. The Pipe boards were slipping—they weren’t tight enough. I increased the vee, changed a couple things, and the boards started holding in. Pancho and Tamayo brought them back to Pipe, and they worked better than the old Pipe boards. Aside from that, guys are riding smaller boards in bigger surf—less volume means more radical positioning.

Myles: Tow boards are moving ahead in design—they’re almost getting like snowboards. I still have my 10’4″ Big Daddy. That’s what I ride at Waimea Bay. It’s like old faithful, five years old now. You get a board like that, and you don’t ride ’em too much.

Tory: Dad’s making my boards a little thicker and using mostly glass-on fins.T.J.: My smaller boards are getting thinner, and my bigger boards are getting thicker.

Fred: I’m working more on specialized boards, like for certain spots. A certain board for Pipe, then a different board for Sunset. A little thicker here, more rocker there.

Tamayo: I think there’s a timeless design that can’t be beaten, especially surfing big, bowly stuff. I like to try and stick to the basics as much as possible. To me, experimenting at Pipe is like experimenting with your life.

Who are you looking forward to watching surf this winter?Myles: Mick, Parko, Taj—those kids are definitely an inspiration. They’re on fire. I think they’ll up the level of surfing around here.Tory: Peter and James Labrador, Nainoa Surratt, all my friends, Shane-O at Backdoor. Brucie at Pipe. Kelly always takes it to the next level. Betet, Rizal, and my Indo friends.

Shibata: I’m looking forward to seeing Andy, Bruce, and Kelly at the Pipe contest.

John John: Matt Archbold and Kelly.T.J.: I’m looking forward to seeing Bruce surf Backdoor. Nathan Carroll and Raymond Reichle, guys my age.

Ross: All of those guys in the Top 44 surf good, but some of the guys don’t surf that good, and it’s fun to go out there and surf circles around ’em laughs.

Fred: Pretty much everyone. I’m looking forward to sitting on the beach and on the peak, watching people get shacked.

Tamayo: I like to watch Pancho, especially at Sunset. He always impresses me. I think guys that will inspire me at Pipe will be Mark Healy and Kalani Chapman. They have come into their own over the last couple of years—getting some pretty heavy barrels.

Are You Ready?

Judging by the surfing witnessed during the North Shore’s first solid ten- to twelve-foot northwest swell, this could be a winter for the ages. There’re a number of super-freak talent-level Aussies, badass Hawai’ian dudes who will take off on anything, and kids from around the world just itching to make a name for themselves and prove to the world they belong here on O’ahu’s North Shore—the Mecca of surfing. So, to all you would-be Rick Kanes of the world, watch out for those knockout punches and coral heads with no sand covering them up, and maybe, just maybe, you too can score with one of those dawn-patrolling bathing beauties. Hey, you might even get a wave or two while you’re at it. f good, but some of the guys don’t surf that good, and it’s fun to go out there and surf circles around ’em laughs.

Fred: Pretty much everyone. I’m looking forward to sitting on the beach and on the peak, watching people get shacked.

Tamayo: I like to watch Pancho, especially at Sunset. He always impresses me. I think guys that will inspire me at Pipe will be Mark Healy and Kalani Chapman. They have come into their own over the last couple of years—getting some pretty heavy barrels.

Are You Ready?

Judging by the surfing witnessed during the North Shore’s first solid ten- to twelve-foot northwest swell, this could be a winter for the ages. There’re a number of super-freak talent-level Aussies, badass Hawai’ian dudes who will take off on anything, and kids from around the world just itching to make a name for themselves and prove to the world they belong here on O’ahu’s North Shore—the Mecca of surfing. So, to all you would-be Rick Kanes of the world, watch out for those knockout punches and coral heads with no sand covering them up, and maybe, just maybe, you too can score with one of those dawn-patrolling bathing beauties. Hey, you might even get a wave or two while you’re at it.