Feast of good waves after long lean spell

'Leaving the water I could barely walk, and yes, my eyes were bleeding'

'Leaving the water I could barely walk, and yes, my eyes were bleeding'

WHAT a weekend that was. I could say I told you so, but then really it was not a secret, was it? Saturday delivered a decent pulse in swell opening up options at Wainui for those with good paddle fitness (not me), while other spots offered gentler but fun options (me).

But it was Sunday that turned into the day of days, with pumping waves, pristine conditions and scorching weather all coming together. Every surfer and their dog were out for the morning session. Unfortunately, not many banks had figured it out at that stage and a hungry pack dominated the mostly-closing-out waves at schools. We opted for a peak further up the beach, and were not disappointed.

Instead of going sea-breeze, as so many of those hot days do, the offshore persisted. When I went back out for session No.2 at midday, Wainui was postcard-perfect. The sun was beaming through a deep blue sky, the beach was packed (well, for Gisborne anyway), the water crystal-clear and the waves were perfectly peeling with a gentle offshore. Not big, but with a perfect, barrelling shape.

It was crowded, as still only a handful of banks were doing their thing, but with such a shifty swell everybody seemed to be getting their fair share of waves. Barrels were going down left, right and centre, though barrels being made was another story.

I pulled into more barrels than I could count, but coming out of them was proving challenging. I was getting clipped riding too high, guillotined riding too low, or — perhaps worst of all — catching the wave of the session only to not be deep enough and barely scrape under the lip (claimed it anyway).

That session I was lucky enough to be in the water at “that bank” to witness Bobby Hansen and Johnny Hicks pull into some of the sickest barrels I have seen out there in a while. They were far from big, but they were fast, warping and anything but easy.

Still, those two Wainui lads seemed to make time go in slow motion as they dropped in, calmly slotted themselves deep inside the tube, hovered over the foam ball for as long as they desired, then, cool as could be, slipped out without batting an eye.

Paddling back out after kooking yet another set, I watched Hansen put on a masterclass, stalling then pumping, stalling then pumping his way through a head-high backhand tube for what must have been close to 10 seconds before flying out, swooping a bottom-turn to do it all over again.

After that second three-hour session I thought I was done. The swell was meant to drop. I downed a beer and was ready for a decent lie-down. But just as I began to relax I thought, “maybe it is still pumping”. My mate and I shot down to check and, sure enough, it was.

The tide had filled in a little to make the waves peel slightly slower, and the rights were looking mighty fine. Every now and then an absolute bomb set roared through. It was hissing and heaving, and with hardly anybody out, presumably all smashed from a long day in the surf and the sun.

My friend and I looked at each other and hooted and hollered as it turned into another epic session (the third and best of the day). Leaving the water I could barely walk, and yes, my eyes were bleeding. To see what went down, check out Derek Fryer’s Facebook page (that said, I don’t know a Gizzy surfer who doesn’t give his page a daily glance).

Looking at the Gisborne surf radar, it seems like those days of endless offshores might be gone, for the next few days anyway. The summer-that-wasn’t out west looks to have turned. Might be time to do a little exploring on the other side of Te Ika a Maui (I know I will be).

See you out the back (on the search).

WHAT a weekend that was. I could say I told you so, but then really it was not a secret, was it? Saturday delivered a decent pulse in swell opening up options at Wainui for those with good paddle fitness (not me), while other spots offered gentler but fun options (me).

But it was Sunday that turned into the day of days, with pumping waves, pristine conditions and scorching weather all coming together. Every surfer and their dog were out for the morning session. Unfortunately, not many banks had figured it out at that stage and a hungry pack dominated the mostly-closing-out waves at schools. We opted for a peak further up the beach, and were not disappointed.

Instead of going sea-breeze, as so many of those hot days do, the offshore persisted. When I went back out for session No.2 at midday, Wainui was postcard-perfect. The sun was beaming through a deep blue sky, the beach was packed (well, for Gisborne anyway), the water crystal-clear and the waves were perfectly peeling with a gentle offshore. Not big, but with a perfect, barrelling shape.

It was crowded, as still only a handful of banks were doing their thing, but with such a shifty swell everybody seemed to be getting their fair share of waves. Barrels were going down left, right and centre, though barrels being made was another story.

I pulled into more barrels than I could count, but coming out of them was proving challenging. I was getting clipped riding too high, guillotined riding too low, or — perhaps worst of all — catching the wave of the session only to not be deep enough and barely scrape under the lip (claimed it anyway).

That session I was lucky enough to be in the water at “that bank” to witness Bobby Hansen and Johnny Hicks pull into some of the sickest barrels I have seen out there in a while. They were far from big, but they were fast, warping and anything but easy.

Still, those two Wainui lads seemed to make time go in slow motion as they dropped in, calmly slotted themselves deep inside the tube, hovered over the foam ball for as long as they desired, then, cool as could be, slipped out without batting an eye.

Paddling back out after kooking yet another set, I watched Hansen put on a masterclass, stalling then pumping, stalling then pumping his way through a head-high backhand tube for what must have been close to 10 seconds before flying out, swooping a bottom-turn to do it all over again.

After that second three-hour session I thought I was done. The swell was meant to drop. I downed a beer and was ready for a decent lie-down. But just as I began to relax I thought, “maybe it is still pumping”. My mate and I shot down to check and, sure enough, it was.

The tide had filled in a little to make the waves peel slightly slower, and the rights were looking mighty fine. Every now and then an absolute bomb set roared through. It was hissing and heaving, and with hardly anybody out, presumably all smashed from a long day in the surf and the sun.

My friend and I looked at each other and hooted and hollered as it turned into another epic session (the third and best of the day). Leaving the water I could barely walk, and yes, my eyes were bleeding. To see what went down, check out Derek Fryer’s Facebook page (that said, I don’t know a Gizzy surfer who doesn’t give his page a daily glance).

Looking at the Gisborne surf radar, it seems like those days of endless offshores might be gone, for the next few days anyway. The summer-that-wasn’t out west looks to have turned. Might be time to do a little exploring on the other side of Te Ika a Maui (I know I will be).

See you out the back (on the search).

Events

Gisborne Boardriders Club has its second shortboard event of the year tomorrow. Unfortunately the waves are not looking anywhere near as flash as last weekend. There will be swell, but it will likely be with onshore winds.

The break-of-origin format continues, with Stockroute Mafia in first place.

The New Zealand Longboarding and Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) Open is also on this weekend at Papamoa Beach, in the Bay of Plenty.

Looking further out, the first of three events in the GBC SUP series is on Saturday, March 25.

The new weekly after-school Rippers surf programme begins on Wednesday, February 22, after being postponed from this week.

Based on surf lifesaving’s Nippers programme, Rippers is about youngsters (five to 12 years old) learning water safety, developing water confidence, having the best surfing techniques instilled from the earliest stages, and having fun with expert guidance.

GBC is running the programme, and the location will vary — the town beaches, Wainui Surf Life Saving Club or northern Makorori. For more information, contact surfing development manager Kelly Ryan on 021-164-1799.

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