No matter where the swell's hitting, whether it's Blacks, Ocean Beach, Punta de Lobos or Cloudbreak, you'll find Damien Hobgood hucking himself into the day's most critical. Damo was the first to find a proper barrel yesterday, well, he found three on one. He didn't make it out but it was one the day's best, next to Dane Gudangs later afternoon tunnel. "This is Damien on an inside drainer," says Beau.
There's Nothing Magical About A 20 Ft Wave That Doesn't Barrel, Yesterday At Cloudbreak
Dangerous chandeliers, onshore winds and the occasional treasure from the coffer.
"On the first wave of the day Aaron Gold had a heavy wipeout and a three wave hold down," lensman Beau Pilgrim tells Stab. "He was plucked from the water, unconscious by Uri Kurop was resuscitated on the boat and came to after a few minutes of CPR (reportedly, Mark Healey was the first to begin resuscitation efforts). It was a strange vibe in the water afterwards. It brought to light the full potential of what can go wrong out there." After Mr Gold's near death experience the lineup cleared. Greg Long, who had all intentions of mixing it up with the world's finest, took to the ski and charge of safety. Greg's a calculated machine in the big wave world. In December 2012, he nearly drowned at Cortes Bank and knows the threat all too well. In conditions like yesterday's "it's usually two or three waves before a ski can get to you," Greg told Stab. "Until then you're on your own."
The year's biggest swell hit Cloudbreak like fully loaded firing squad. "It with some morning sickness and the SW trade winds were fresh at times," says Beau. "Some waves were holding up but most were pinching in the wind."
"Witnessing Greg Long, Mark Healy and Ryan Hipwood work on Aaron calmly and so professionally was the best thing I've ever seen,” said Alex Gray after yesterday's carnival. “Thank you for all the practice you guys have put in for a moment like this morning. For the most part Cloudbreak was onshore with some really dangerous chandeliers. The goofy footers ruled. Dane Gudauskas found the gem of gems, with a wave twice as perfect as anything else ridden. But Damien Hobgood made it look easy with his crazy tube."
"A big cast flew out for the swell," continues Mr Pilgrim, "Dane Gudauskas, Greg Long, Billy Kemper, Nathan Florence, Ryan Hipwood, Mark Healey and Damien Hobgood were among some of the standouts."
Here's one of the two dozen boats calling the channel home. Where the energy was sincere, the danger tangible, and apart from Aaron Gold's dance with death at the day's opening and wavering conditions, everyone stayed safe. "The wind was up and down all day," says Mr Pilgrim, "but towards the afternoon started to back off."
Here's Francisco Porcella, brother to the king of beatings and wipeout of year winner, Niccolo, "locked and loaded through the top section," as said by Beau. Desire for the impossible is just part of the brother's gene pool.
"Here's Nathan Florence grabbing his rail while his board was still in one piece," says Beau. This drop although not as dire as the famous ride at Chopes in July, 2015, accurately depicts how critical maxing Cloudbreak is on your backside.
"This is Sai Smiley hoping for an opening," says Mr Pilgrim. With a wave like this, hope is all that's left. Sai's an underground charger from the Maui Isle who happened to scrap into some of Tavarua's largest offerings yesterday. This does not look like a lip any relatively sane man should attempt to pull beneath.
"In the afternoon the wind backed off," Beau tells us, "and the ledge started to do its thing."