Hoping to hit the waves very soon

There won’t be a call at Waimea Bay today.

A huge swell has approached Hawaii and hope had arisen for a possible go for The Eddie this week. Event officials monitored the potential and said Monday there was a “50/50 chance” they would authorize a Wednesday call for the most prestigious big-wave event in the world. With a 5 p.m. Monday deadline, word came out that today would not be the day.

“We have taken all the time we can to assess the developments of the next big swell and it does not look favorable for us,” said event organizer Glen Moncata. “The size is there, but the quality is not, due to strong, adverse winds. We will continue to wait for the right conditions.”

Oh well. This selective nature is exactly what makes The Eddie so unique, having only run eight times in its 29-year existence.

This week looked like a good chance, but we still have until the Feb. 28 deadline to hope for the right conditions to run the event for the first time since 2009.

I moved to Kauai just eight months before that 2009 contest was held and I knew almost nothing about competitive or recreational surfing at that time. Since then I’ve developed a real appreciation for the sport and gained a knowledge of the competitive aspect. The professionals on the men’s and women’s sides are now as, if not more familiar to me, than any athletes from the major pro sports. I’ve learned so much from watching events, listening to others talk about styles and maneuvers and just trying to take in all I can.

But here’s the thing: I don’t surf. I’ve paddled out to a couple of North Shore spots a handful of times, but none of them in the past few years. I like to think that one of my main strengths when talking sports is to be able to see and feel what the players are seeing and feeling, whether it’s getting into a tennis player’s head or noticing a fractional movement by a basketball player that allowed them to make the play. I can’t do that with surfing because I don’t have that intuitive muscle. Not yet, anyway.

The reasons for my lack of surf experience have nothing to do with a lack of desire. I’d like to be picking off waves at my discretion, but I have a couple of mental obstacles to overcome before that happens.

First off, Kauai is an intimidating place to learn. That may not be the case for the keiki out there with their parents, learning the intricacies of their backyard break from a young age. But it is the case for a 26-year-old New Jersey transplant (now 31 – yikes). Not only can the waters be humbling, but I’m very conscious about not being disrespectful. There is a pecking order and etiquette that I’d never want to infringe upon, so I’ve not put myself in a position to do so.

I also think it’s a bit easier for women to pick up surfing as an adult than it is for men, at least when it comes to the territorial issue. That’s my perception, but may not be everyone’s. I think women beginners are probably given a little more slack in the water than the guys.

The other reason is purely my own and not very rational, at that. I have trouble being bad at stuff. Not to sound egotistical, but I had pretty good natural ability in school and sports as a kid. I think that actually caused me to not become as accomplished as I might have because I didn’t work as hard to improve later on. I now struggle with the early phases of a new endeavor, especially when it’s something that I want to be good at. Whether it’s been learning to surf or the guitar sitting in my room that I don’t play, I hate that early stage of what I consider inadequacy.

From the outside, I’d tell someone else “You can’t expect yourself to be good at something before ever trying it. That’s an unreasonable expectation.”

I know that. Yet I still have that anxiety of day-one frustration. But one of my goals for 2014 is to get past all those issues and start catching waves because I’m certain it would be a welcome addition to my life.

Guitar, too.


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