How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 22

Anecdotes and Personal Experiences (Name Dropping) - 13

Eddie Aikau's smile.

And then there's all those "little things."

And even though it may have been a "little thing," Eddie's smile stands out pretty damn large in my memory.

There was nothing whatsoever affected about it. It was one of the most genuine smiles I've ever seen in my life, on anyone, anywhere.

You'd be a little inside of him, over toward the channel, with a really good view of him, and he'd be stroking into an nice thick one.

Eddie pretty much got his pick of the waves at Sunset Beach, and he had a pretty damn good eye for picking the very best ones.

And he knew it, and he knew exactly what he was getting into when he was getting into it, and the sheer joy of it just sort of came out of him in the form of this big smile that would broaden across his face just as he was coming to his feet up there at the top of yet another nice thick one, just beginning to plummet down to the bottom.

Eddie's smile.

Hell, it makes me smile, just thinking about it.

But, for whatever reasons of fate and circumstance, Eddie remains as a woefully under-photographed person.

I dunno.

Eddie was rising to the top of his game at Sunset and Waimea just as all the photographers were packing their gear and heading down to Kodak Reef.

And the world is a slightly colder and slightly darker place, because of it.

You do a Google Image Search for Eddie Aikau, and you find yourself inundated with images of people surfing Waimea Bay during the Eddie Contest, but disappointingly few images of the man himself, doing what he loved the most.

And in all my searches, I have never found even a single photograph that captures him smiling, up there at the top of the wave, getting ready to take the drop.

And that unfortunate fact saddens me a little, because Eddie's Smile was one of those things that more people around the world should have been able to experience.

So I guess I'll just console myself with knowing that somehow, to some infinitesimally small degree, I have been gifted by the fates with being able to carry Eddie's Smile as a part of myself down through the years, and will continue to be able to do so, until my dying day.

And I consider myself not only just lucky, but also improved by simply having been fortunate enough to encounter it, to see it, to remember it, and to feel it, all these long years later.

Barry Kanaiaupuni Brings It Back

Yeah, yet another cleanup set.

You guys must be getting tired of hearing about yet another cleanup set, but just try to imagine how tired we were of having to deal with the goddamned things.

Oh well.

Before cords, it was a swim to the beach if the wave got hold of your board squarely, but every once in a while that wouldn't happen.

On west swells in particular, the peak will loom up outside of you and fold over exploding like a bomb, but then kind of lose interest in things and sort of fizzle out right afterwards.

So it wouldn't run down the line after it broke.

Might even back off. A little. Sort of.

And when that happened, there was a little technique you could use, in desperation, that might, that just might, if the gods chose to smile down kindly upon your unworthy ass, allow you to avoid that miserable third-of-a-mile rough-water swim that you would otherwise be compelled to take.

So here it comes, and it folds over with a BOOM, and you're in front of it, but you're also over toward the right shoulder.

So instead of just going over the side and taking your punishment like a man, you try to kick the goddamned surfboard even farther over toward the right shoulder in the hopes that as the wave loses interest in things after it breaks, it will also lose interest in your surfboard, and knock it over toward the side, the rest of the way into the channel, and not take it all the way to the beach, or into the rip, perhaps never to be seen again.

The boards we were riding back then were substantially larger than what most folks are riding today, and that helped too.

Try to visualize this one if you can.

Great goddamned big steamroller of soup, bearing down on you from close range.

And instead of trying to run away from it, you wait till the last moment, stand up on top of your surfboard, right there in the middle of the deck, and then, just before the soup gets you, you do a kind of backflip from your standing position, and give your board the mightiest possible kick you can, sideways, perpendicular to the direction the soup is coming at you from, and if everything works just so, the board will be a pretty good distance toward the channel from where it would have been had you not done that weird and awkward-looking backflip, when the soup finally gets it.

Low-odds proposition, all the way around.

But every once in a while, it would work like a charm.

And instead of swimming to the beach, and maybe losing your board in the rip as you did so, you'd find that your board was only seventy-five or a hundred yards inside of you, over there in the channel, floating happily out of harm's way.

Which is exactly what happened this time.

And if that good news wasn't enough, well then the sight of one of your fellow surfers paddling back outside with his right foot on the deck of your board, forward of center, paddling it back out to you would surely qualify as very good news indeed.

And if, as the guy closes in on you, you realize that it's Barry Kanaiaupuni, wearing that impossibly brilliant smile that he would occasionally flash, well..... I don't even know what more there is to say about news being good.

And you thank him as he gives you your board back, and you get up on top of it without having had to endure the swim, or lose your board in the rip, and you return to sitting outside, waiting for your next one, and the glow of that goddamned motherfucking smile on Barry's face stays with you the rest of the day, the rest of the winter, and maybe even the rest of your life.

So yeah. So that's pretty damn nice when it happens to you, and you never forget it.

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