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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

1.31.2012 Honl's, Kona, Hawaii, possibly my Sharpest Session of All Time

My wife was sent over to Hilo (east side of the island of Hawaii) and I convinced her to go a couple of days early AND let me tag along on her miles.

We'd driven the main drag (Ali'i Drive) and the only wave that made my loins purr was Banyan's. If my recollection of surf history serves me correctly, this was where Shane Dorian cut his teeth.

As I drove past the spot, I saw two sick reeling rights, beautiful blue-green spinning cylinders. I told Raquel this was where I was going to surf.

The day after we arrived, I rented a SICK 6'1" Jeff Bushman from Kona Boys. The board was thicker and wider than my glorious DHD back home, which is a good thing, as I wanted the extra paddle power for the Hawaiian juice.

I asked them where to go, other than Banyans, because that would be my first stop. They said, "the spot we recommend you don't go to is Banyans". I tried to gauge if they were being a-hole locals or were just being helpful and decided to play it safe and assume they were being helpful.

I picked up my wife from the hotel and we went searching for waves. It was a bit tough as we were looking for waves at a place where I'd never surfed and 98% of the coast is rocky.

We stopped at a spot right on the main drag after I saw what was close to a double-overhead set race-to-closing. This wasn't great, but I saw a couple of makeable ones and I was out there.

Raquel took this picture of me while I was putting the finishing touches on the wax job. You can't tell from the picture, but I was absolutely RARING to paddle out.

If you look at the beach, you will see there is some sand. The sand goes away once you step in, and then it's almost all SHARP "fresh" lava rock broken up by some coral heads. The paddle-out was pretty quick, though I was wary of scratching up my fingertips and/or knuckles. It didn't happen, though.

I sat close to the pack (four strong, one guy looked Hawaiian) and was as respectful as could be. If anyone paddled for a wave, I would paddle to get out of their way.

The older haole caught one wave and went in. It was me, another haole and a Hawaiian sponger.

All my waves were rights:

I caught my first wave within ten minutes of paddling out. I did a cutback on it and faded off the back. I'd strayed too far to the shoulder because I was being so careful to not fall in the shallows.

I paddled back out, a little emboldened by my first successful over-lava-rock-and-coral wave (hence the title of this post). I was also happy the Bushman felt good under my feet.

My second wave was a late-ish drop. I snapped once, then kicked out before the closing out section hit me.

I asked the other haole in the water what the name of the spot was and he said what sounded like "Honnels". I asked him if this was about average out here and he said it's actually pretty good today. He mentioned that a sick left will start breaking when the swell direction has some south to it.

Another sponger paddled out and to my delight, I heard him say, "Do Something!" to his buddy on another sponge. This phrase is a Hawaiian surfing tradition and I was happy to finally experience it organically. Though it was a sponger-to-sponger utterance.

I caught another wave and now, a grizzled vet, went for a full roundhouse cutback. I swung it around without issues, hit the whitewash and lost my fins in the wash, just as the sponger was duckdiving two feet inside of me. I wasn't pulling it anyway, but I did what may have looked like a grab-rail roundhouse recovery. I was trying to keep my board from hitting him, and judging by the lack of lip, I was successful.

My new bro (haole) went in and it was just me and two spongers. Waves kept coming and I kept pulling back from them, as most of them would close out quickly. Catching one of these waves would make for a sick drop, but also a possible encounter with the reef.

The spongers went in less than fifteen minutes later (!) and just before this happened, a big Hawaiian guy on a red longboard paddled out. I nodded at him and he looked right past me. Not quite a stink eye, as he didn't squint, but he didn't seem happy to see me out there.

I kept my strategy going. Any wave he showed interest in, I wouldn't even paddle for.

An even bigger Hawaiian on an even bigger board paddled out. Red Board knew him and they literally talked story.

The biggest wave of the day came as both of them were out of position, too inside after just having caught waves. I paddled hard for it, possibly too hard, and caught it late. I sensed the sweet, high percentile, spot passing me by, but I decided to drop in later than I am normally comfortable with. I swung down around the crashing lip and smacked it hard.

I felt a sensation I've had very few times outside of Punta Roca. I hung up on the lip with my board close to vertical, nose side pointing towards the trough of the wave. I stomped hard on the tail to keep myself from pearling, then kicked out. NICE!

More people paddled out and I decided to bail. I had an interesting paddle in, it was flat and then, as I got close enough to stand on the bottom, a set came and I had to paddle back out to have enough water between me and the bottom. I did that back and forth for about three minutes before I finally made it in.

As I gingerly twinkle-toed in, I managed to cut the bottom of my foot (Mike, you would've HATED it!).

That night I checked to see what other had to say about Honl's. Here is a link. If I'd read the comments beforehand, I would have had a hard time paddling out!

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