“But as fast as the media picked up on the place—it burned out. It became “A Place In Space” and when the giant winter swells hit, The Bay was where it was happening.” — THE BAY, by Randy Rarick, SURFING Magazine, April 1977
Brah, let me tell you, this day was a LONG time coming. So, to all the guys who just came over to SCORE, just called Aloha Air and said, “Oh, Hi, may I please book two 9 a.m. tickets to The Bay,” I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky you are. You better keep these memories tucked close, boys, ’cause you got it good.
Now, the whole thing went down like this:
The night of December 14, I was at my home, waxing up the “Thundercat,” my tube-time-navigator 8’0”, ’cause the swell was already up and there’s only so much a man can stand when anticipating A Day At The Bay. It’s a wave you have to feel in your innermost soul and ride with your heart wide open. It’s taken me years of mental preparation to be ready for days like these. Before dialing the number for the buoys, I paused for a breath, told myself something like, “Yo, boy, stay cool,” and then picked up the phone. And let me tell you: what I heard this time almost made my head explode. The dude, all in his, “I’m some meteorologist, I don’t know the true magnitude of what I’m saying,” said, “Buoy One, 26 feet at 19 seconds!”
Shoots, but I was mellow. It didn’t really surprise me in the least. I’d already seen all those tow-in “Agronauts” driving ’round town for days. They always make it real obvious, you know? Shining their Jet Skis by the side of the road; doing test runs like a mile out, so you can just barely see ’em skimming on the mid-day sea. Whatever. Far as I’m concerned, Peahi could be the dark side of the moon.
For me, I knew where I’d be first light. The Bay.
So, I was up the morning of December 15 at around 5 a.m. and was in my car cranking the Zep’ by about 5:15. When the surf is gonna cook, I like to give myself plenty of time to be wide awake. There’s a lookout spot on the other side that I like to park, blare my music, relax, jump some rope and peer out at my diamond in the rough. Yeah, I was on it. I mean, c’mon, a big swell is always bound to be a hair morning sick. But this swell was looking too good to be true.
I’m no fool—I know almost everything about my beloved Bay. What is it you want to know? At first light the sunshine was rich as gumbo, gold as the eyeballs of old Cortez. The bold, northwest lines sweeping our beloved Bay must’ve been 100 miles wide. And, I tell you, when you’re sitting on the peak, seeing ’em wrap around Molokai, dizzy ’cause the mountain peaks of that island do strangely resemble turrets of a far-off city’s wall, then those marching swells, never breaking rank, seem like an evil army come to bury you whole. Yes, to master The Bay it takes time.
But it’s a wave that can really take you higher. Over the decades, more than one hot shot has learned a thing or two at The Bay. In ’68 it was about McTavish “V” bottom boards and the Brewer Pipeliner guns. As far as I’m concerned, Nat, Jock, Gerry…they all ripped. Then, in ’77, there was a 10-foot day, where performances by Mark Richards and Michael Ho were so dynamic they blew our minds straight out the stratosphere. That’s why this time is so special to me.
When I hit the water, I wasn’t surprised to see a few out-of-town faces. There was that Pipe dude, Liam McNamara; he knew it was heavy, wearing an Oakland Raiders helmet with the facemask. Yeah, and there was this cat—Barca—yeah, Dustin Barca from Hanalei. He was sitting way out the back, trolling for the sets. There was a tad too much energy in the water at first. The tide was high, so there was rip cutting through us. Nonetheless, Barca, Liam and one of our local contingency, Cheyne Magnussen, all pitched in to make things better, grabbing some cliffhangers by the horns to clear any early misconceptions that this wasn’t truly gonna be The Day.
By noon, the tide had dropped making for some most manageable, meaty bowls. The trick with The Bay is that you can’t ever tell how big it really is by looking from the cliff. You’ve gotta get down there and get your board dirty. But a cool thing ’bout this place is that, even when it’s juicy, you can still paddle out dry-haired, as on a wee summer’s day. There’s a gully in the reef right behind the wave’s initial launch pad. And it’s cool—it stops the wave from being a sissy, one-slice cheese sandwich, but turns it to a double-stuffed, roast beef stack.
Getting hungry yet? Good. ‘Cause I’m gonna tell you ‘bout the main course: the inside “Cave” bowl! What happens is the lines want to taper down the point like Malibu, only there’s that gully thing there, so they get all stocked-up, causing one mean slingshot effect. You get crazy speed off the jacking drop ’til this watermelon-green grinder turns a 180 to the inside bowl. It’s the “Cave.”
Certainly, I had some good rides, just not good as his. Or Barca’s with his BK swoops; Liam’s with his roller-derby speed banks; that Aussie Dean Morrison’s (I can’t forget), with tube sensibilities second only to Curren. All said, this was some the better action I’ve ever seen.
Later, back on the cliff, fools were crackin’ Nat’y Ice and crackin’ jokes. “Hey, anyone need any extra sparkplugs?” laughed one. “I heard some suckas’ Skis got wrecked at Peahi.” “No,” said another, “but I think that guy Flea might need some extra body parts. I heard he almost got exterminated at the Eddie.” But what about our day, were they all so quick to forget? Were these dudes tripping? So, I stepped in, nodding out to the low, distant rumble now cloaked in purple twilight: “Yo, we all know who’s the real hero today.”