Years and years ago, I was on the North Shore with the rest of The Inertia crew. We were there in December, wandering around during the most ridiculously crowded month in that little slice of paradise, covering the Pipe Masters. Other things, too (please God click this to see the “other things”), but that was our main purpose. That and it was a trip to the North Shore for “work.” Anyway, this particular trip took place during the height of the supsquatch craze, which appears to have died down a little. We were lucky enough to meet up with Brian Keaulana, son of the legendary Buffalo Keaulana.
The man is a force. Quiet and stoic, but quick to laugh and quick to crack a wry joke behind a barely contained smile. It’s not hyperbolic to say that he’s one of the world’s greatest watermen — he knows the ocean and its many moods better, perhaps, than anyone else. He took us to Makaha, which is not a place I’d ever imagined I’d surf, and he took us on a very big day. And he took us on a supquatch.
I, along with another Inertia editor, clambered aboard the ridiculously big inflatable surfboard. We had a few other guys on there, Navy SEALS who were in Hawaii on some kind of well-deserved break, and Brian hung off the back. He was the rudder, you see, and a coxswain of sorts telling us to paddle when it was clear to all aboard that paddling was a bad idea. Thanks to Brian, we found ourselves safely out the back. Without him there, I don’t know how welcome we would have been, but Brian is held in such high esteem that it wasn’t an issue.
We paddled into two waves. The first was, as they say, just to get our feet in the wax, but the second was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. As we paddled onto a big Makaha wave, it seemed a sure thing that we were all about to die in a tangle of other people’s arms and legs, a 17-foot inflatable surfboard the vehicle of our deaths. We all screamed in a sort of glass-shattering harmony. When we stumbled back onto the sand, the SEALS were shaking. The other editor had bitten a hole straight through his lip. With blood pouring down his chin, he said it was totally worth it. Sharing a giant wave with a bunch of other screaming humans is a unique experience, and I urge anyone, if they have the opportunity, to do it.
I have been somewhat ashamed of my screaming since then. It was part laughter, part terror, and I wasn’t the only one doing it. But after watching Kai Lenny on a supsquatch at outer reef, I feel a little better. Because if Kai Lenny gets amped enough to scream on one… well, I think I was right to react the way I did.