Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Weekend at Black Pelican.

Green machine taken with GoPro Hero 3 Black.
The Saturday leading into Labor Day weekend was, hands down, the best day of surf I got in the Outer Banks. It was one of those days that it all came together. The conditions were picture perfect (literally), there was some size, my GoPro 3 came in the mail the day prior, and I had it all to myself.

Laramie, Chantony's older brother, was in town for the weekend, so him, Torin, and I woke up early to check the waves. Of course, we headed to my go to spot at Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk first. I knew it was where I wanted to be right when we checked it. They were interested in checking some other spots, so I just grabbed my gear and told them to pick me up when they were done.

I seriously felt like a little kid holding bags of his favorite candy with no adults to tell him to stop eating it. I couldn't put my spring suit on quick enough. GoPro in hand, I jumped in the water in a frenzy.

I couldn't believe how perfect the surf and conditions were. The water was as smooth as glass. The waves over head. And it only got better and better as the morning proceeded.

The sheet glass conditions gave way to light off shore winds, and the light off shore winds gave way to heavier off shore winds. There wasn't a cloud to be spotted in the sky either. It was seriously perfect.

I believe I shot over 3,000 frames this morning before trading in my GoPro for a board. As I grabbed my board and hit the water, it actually started to get better for surfing than shooting with the extremely bright sun directly over head. Not to mention, the peaks were lining and crossing up more than earlier in the morning.
Striking gold taken with GoPro Hero 3 Black. 
I caught a few before Laramie and Torin came back to pick me up. Then I came back in Torin's car and jumped back in. It reminded me of Mugu ... lefts and rights. Got some long barrels, some pocket spins and off the lip reverses. Maui boy Travis Calvan made his way with his family to jump in the water for a bit. Unfortunately, by the time he arrived in the early afternoon the conditions were less favorable. The winds went side-off and tide was less favorable. I was spent anyways.

I feel so blessed to have gotten a day like this here in the Outer Banks. I wasn't able to share it with anyone else while it was good, but I have the photos to show it. Not to mention, good-empty surf is always fine with me.

To view more of my images from the Outer Banks as well as around the world, follow me on Instagram by clicking this link: @evanfa

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Score in KDH.

The view right as we walked up taken by Chantony Bleu.
I stumbled upon one of the most fun days of surf I've had in a long time. I had heard from people at work (and I even got a voicemail from Bob Hovey, owner of Duck Village Outfitters) that there was some swell in the water. So after Chantony and I finished we headed down to Kill Devil Hills to check it out.

To my surprise, it was good. It was chest to head high and crossed up like Mugu. Not sizeable but good for its size. Once I saw the water I kissed Chantony and ran to jump in. There were a few guys out, but it boiled down to only two of us. I surfed until it was dark.
Looking toward Avalon Pier taken by Chantony Bleu.
I caught enough waves to hold me over for a while. I put all my energy into catching as much as I could. I could only imagine how good it would be if it was double over head.

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Solid Surfs in the Outer Banks.

Looking toward Kitty Hawk from under the lip.
One of the first things I noticed about the Outer Banks is its potential for surf. Considering that the Outer Banks are simply sandbar islands off of the coast, they are exposed to more swell and ocean conditions than a lot of places. Since they are sand, with the right mix of swell, winds, and tide, the place has so many options. Of course, coming here in the dead of summer isn't the most promising time for surf over here. Nevertheless, I have been able to reap some of this coastline's benefits.

Avon Pier in Avon -
Despite teaching some surf lessons for Duck Village Outfitters (DVO), I hadn't really surfed any really fun surf since June. After being in touch with Cyrus Lewis, I finally made a trek down to Avon to meet up with him as well as Ricky Miller.

I was stoked to see some well over head waves again when I check it. I suited up and jumped in the water on the north side, where I traded a few waves with Ricky. As he went in I floated over to the south side, where I actually got a few really solid barrels. There I met Cyrus, who is a local kid and ripper. After surfing for a little while longer, I called it a day and head back to the house in Southern Shores.

As I was leaving Avon Pier, I saw this sign for a sushi bar that caught my eye. The name of the place is Haoles. Haha!
Haole's Sushi in Avon, NC.
Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk -
I had just gotten home from work when Torin, Chantony's brother, told me there was some windswell in the water and that he had seen more of a shorebreak sandbar. My eyes lit up considering that all I had really surfed up to this point, for the most part, was less than ideal for bodyboarding.

My eyes lit up as soon as we got there. There were some definite corners and sections. Although it was wind swell, it was crossed up and fun. Not all time, by any means, but it was fun. Especially considering the hiatus since I had previous surfed.

We surfed until dark at this place. From that session on, this ended up becoming my go to spot for the remainder of my stay in the OBX. Especially once I got my GoPro in the mail.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The OBX.

It has been an adventure so far over here in Outer Banks of North Carolina. One of life changes and new perspectives. One I will indeed never forget.

Before I touch on some more about the place, I have to first acknowledge why I came here ... Chantony Bleu. The woman of all women. The one I have been searching for my whole life. Only one such as her could put me on a plane to travel thousands of miles away to live for the summer.
       One of those picturesque mornings in Kitty Hawk, NC.
Now, to be honest, before I flew over here I didn't have any idea what it would be like. I had heard of the Outer Banks, but what I heard didn't come with any pictures to paint in my head. All I knew is it was the east coast of America. It was located in what is referred to as "the south." So for all I knew I could have been flying into an area full of rednecks, farms, and rednecks with farmer's tans. 

Lucky for me the Outer Banks is more than rednecks, farms, and farmer's tans. It is so much more. So much better than I expected. It's beautiful. The beaches are clean, water is warm, and the people are so friendly. By friendly I mean I really haven't met any knuckle heads yet. Call it "southern hospitality," call it what you want ... the world needs to learn from it. As a matter of fact, Hawaii needs to sprinkle some "southern hospitality" on its "aloha spirit."
Sunset over the sound in Southern Shore, NC.
The biggest event, or thing, that has happened while I was here was I proposed and got engaged to Chantony. I did it on her birthday. Yes, it was so right. So right that there wasn't a shade of doubt. It feels good to share that feeling. To know that I no longer have to search. I have found the perfect woman. 
Chantony and me in our engagement photo taken by Ariana Clare.
Being engaged places a whole lot of new things onto the table. First, we have to prepare for our wedding and reception. Second, jump starting our life together. Third, make some plans for the immediate and long term. Since we are getting married this fall it puts a lot of pressure to get things done quick. Especially since the wedding is back in Hawaii.

Regardless of all the things to do and knots to tie, it will all work out. That is a comforting reality. Meanwhile, there are a lot more things to experience here in the Outer Banks while the time passes. Looking forward to spending this time with Chantony and the familia, getting some surf, making some more money, and getting to know new people. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Morning Awakening - First Time at Teahupoo.

Teahupoo taken by Garret Allard.
Teahupoo. Every wave rider has heard of it. Its reputation as the heaviest wave in the world proceeds it. So fear, unsettledness, and an odd feeling of excitement definitely rolled around like a weight in my stomach.

My frist session at Teahupoo reminded me of my first time surfing Pipe over fifteen years ago. Except in this case I had maturity and a better skill set to accompany me on the journey. Having known a week prior that I was venturing to Tahiti on a code red swell, I had it at the fore front of my mind while I trained.

While I wish I knew what I was getting into, I truly didn't. It's hard to prepare for something you have never done before. One might suppose comparing it to Ke iki, Pipeline, Wedge, and all the other waves I have surfed would be sufficient enough to prepare for such a thing, but still one cannot truly know until he does it himself.

Even after spending a whole day in the sun at Taapuna, I was so excited, anxious, and somewhat scared for what was to follow the next morning. Needless to say, I didn't really sleep that night. While I was exhausted when Eric and David came to pick us up the next morning from Alvino's house in Punaauia, I had so much adrenaline rushing through my veins to keep me awake for days.

The sunrise on the way up was amazing. Eric even said that it was the best one he has ever seen while living there. I took it as a good omen for the day.

We rolled up to a dirt parking lot at the "End of the Road." Angelo, Tepo, and some others were already there watching the surf. It was to nice to see them, but frightening to hear them say, "It's big." Dan and Ben, the two Australian chargers also staying at Alvino's suited up and jetted out right away. I opted to paddle out with one of the boys.

We grabbed our gear and headed to Tahurai and Hitoti's house. We cracked open a coconut, stretched a little, and felt things out. David was going to shoot fisheye like the animal that he is. Eric was going to shoot video from the channel (or whatever you want to call it since there actually isn't a channel).

Hitoti said he was heading out so I followed him. Especially since I had no idea where I was going anyways. As we reached the point, he reached down to a spout and said, "Drink so you will get a bomb." Even though thoughts of vomiting all night from drinking non-potable crossed my mind, I drank. I needed all the luck I could get a hold of. A bomb as well sounded nice.

As I jumped in one of the Hawaii surfers was being brought in on a ski after getting banged up on the reef. Good omen? Probably not. Oh well. I jumped in.

It didn't take too much effort to get out there. The current was so strong that it did most of the work. As I paddled through the pass, I could see all these pieces of reef floating on the surface. Then I thought about it for a second and realized the waves were breaking off pieces of the reef. Wow! That's comforting.

As I approached the boats, I realized I couldn't stop in the channel to watch. Otherwise, I might get intimidated. So I paddled straight out to the lineup.

It was crowded. Really crowded. I felt like I was on the North Shore again. All the same guys plus additional guys from everywhere else. Of course, many were here to tow as it was on the rise.

My original plan was to catch a medium sized one, if those existed. Then I would try a bomb.

My plan was quickly crumbled when Alvino spotted me: "Evan, come ... I will get you a bomb!" Getting a bomb is a good thing, of course, except I had never even caught a wave a Teahupoo before. Then Alvino said, "I have to give him (pointing at who I found out was Tikanui, who ended up getting the best tow the next day) a bomb, and then I give you a bomb." I guess I had a little time to think things over.

Twenty or so minutes passed by and still Alvino hadn't given him a wave. I felt like I had seen some sets, but then I started questioning what he was referring to as a bomb. Then a bomb came, and everyone knew it, and Alvino screamed for him to go.

Humbled. Excited but also scared. That was a bomb. Then Alvino looked at me and assured me, "Evan, you are next." I wasn't sure what to think, but I told him if he gives me a medium one first then that would be good for me to warm up. He responded something to the effect of, "No, Evan, you get a bomb."

The next twenty to thirty minutes were so drawn out. I was getting a little bit of anxiety at what this next bomb might look like. Then it came.

No way. He wouldn't make me go on this. Then, of course, I heard Alvino yell, "Evan ... Go! Go! Go!" As I started paddling, everyone stopped. There was no turning back. If I didn't go then I'd be barred. No one would take me seriously out there. Plus, I'd lose the respect of Alvino and the boys.

As I paddled, I honestly had no idea if I was too deep, not far enough in or what. Maybe I was going to air drop it. Either way I had to go. Then I realized I had it. I put my left hand on the nose of my board and right hand along the rail.

The wave looked long as I took the drop. Then off the bottom my heart instantly sank. I was too deep. I figured since I was going down I need to go out like a champ so I postured up and drove it as far as I could.
The wave taken by David Tuarau.
As it washed me clean, my leash slipped from my arm to my hand. Luckily, I caught the strap before it slipped off completely. I cannot imagine what sort of mess I would have been in. It would have definitely ended my day of riding waves.

When I popped up I saw Hitoti drop into a bomb. The wave spit so hard. With my leash in my hand I duck through that wave. Then I made my way back to the lineup.

I saw Wade, Bryce, Kaleo, Kaiwa, Brandon, and Ginger (Kaiwa's girlfriend) all hanging out in a boat. I jumped in it for a second and relaxed. That one wave took so much out of me.

After a relax, I proceeded back to the lineup for some more. It was such a sight to see Raimana tow the first wave of the swell. Everyone was screaming. That barrel was so large. It was the first wave I have ever seen anyone tow in real life. To watch it that close was pretty spectacular.

The next hour or two were eye opening. The boys caught some crazy ones. Angelo and Alvino showed their true colors. It gave me a renewed respect for both of them. It is one thing to watch videos and think you can do something, and it is another to actually be there in person and do it. They do in person what you see in the videos.
 Angelo Faraire at Teahupoo taken by Garret Allard.
The strangest thing to be out there because I became desensitized by how big it was. I found myself turning around and paddling for ones only to realize that guys were being towed in. In other words, it all started looking the same. Which is dangerous.

Guys were taking such heavy beatings. So heavy that I don't know how people go through those sorts of experiences and live. I suppose they happen to everyone that tests these sorts of conditions. It just seemed so mindless and unnecessary at times. Just how people take off on waves at Pipe out of the sheer fact that they finally got a wave to themselves instead of the wave being one they actually want.

The ambiance of the boats, waves, and people riding waves can best be described as a modern day collision of gladiators and lions. The mix of it all just overloaded the senses. I cannot even imagine the thrill of towing out there. People seriously do amazing things.

After a few more waves I made my way to the boat. On our way in we saw a figure fly through the air into the flats. It was a bodyboarder. Come to find out, it was Dan Ryan, one of the Australians also staying with Alvino. When I asked him if someone put a briefcase full of money in front of him and told him to do it again, he said he wouldn't. So Dan actually believed he could make it. Now that is commitment.
One of the other waves I caught taken by Kaleo Delatori.
One of the other waves that I caught taken by Garret Allard.
I was so wired with adrenaline when we made it to shore. I had no idea what to think about it all. I was on information overload. I needed time to process it so it made sense. Little did I know ... it was only the beginning of a long day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Unexpected Day at Tapuna.

So my long day at Tapuna was very unexpected. I was heading with Alvino to town to his mother's house, but I happened to bring my camera equipment with me just in case. Well, we stopped by Tapuna on the way. They were holding the final day of the Tapuna Masters, and we just missed David as he was floating on the boat out to the lineup.

Alvino went and spoke with someone that said they could take me out there to the competitor's boat to say what up to David and take some photos of the comp. Granted that I really didn't have any plans, I figured why not. In my mind I was thinking I would go out there for a couple hours and then head back in.

Well, a couple hours transformed into all day. By all day I mean probably eight or nine hours on the boat taking photos. Haha!

I can't really complain because it was seriously one of the coolest set-ups for a comp I have ever witnessed. I realize I don't go to that many comps, but I just thought it was fascinating how so many people paddled out on the SUP's, bodyboards, surfboards, kayaks, etc, to watch the comp and hang out all day. A paddle that makes the east side of Oahu seem like a stone's throw. It gave me a good sense of the Tahitians love and passion for the ocean.

It was nice to see David, talk story, and meet a whole bunch of the other locals on the boat. The first couple hours were pretty amazing. I was so stoked to shoot photos. The only bad thing is I didn't have any water, food, or pretty much anything with me besides my camera bag. After a while the sun was getting to me, my stomach was turning against itself, and I was feeling somewhat light headed from dehydration. Not to mention, I had done something to my neck somewhere from HNL to Papeete. I think I fell asleep with my head dangling forward.
Luckily, the people running the boat slid me a baguette sandwich and bottle of water. Man ... I haven't had such good "pan" since I lived in Spain. Water never tasted so good either.

Towards the middle of the semis the event organizer came by on a boat and asked me if I wanted to jump on the media boat, which was roaming much closer to the lineup. I said, of course, in English since I seriously don't know anything in French. He told me he would email me for the photos, which I said are all his if he wants them, but he never emailed me. Either way, I have them set and ready for him anytime he wants.

The final was pretty rad. It was cool sitting and shooting from the boat in the channel. I remember thinking that "Yeah, I could do this for a living." I mean ... who wouldn't want to be in the ocean all day shooting photos of people getting barreled?
I really like how the Tapuna Masters featured it all from kneeboard, bodyboard, to surf. I think that shows the true spirit of surfing. Tahitians truly understand that. There doesn't need to be distinction due to which way you like to surf waves. Just goes to show it's an American mentality.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tahiti Dreams.

I will speak of the trip of all trips ... the long awaited, overly delayed trip to Tahiti. If someone would have asked me only a few weeks ago if I was going to make it to Tahiti this summer, I would have definitely replied with all surety, "No." No due to a few important things. Those few things being, one, the love of my life, Chantony, Pounders Roundup | Bodyboard Meet at the end of the month, and the good old fashion dollar (or Tahitian Franc for the Tahitians). But then, as life sometimes allows, I am surrounded by supportive friends and a board sponsor, Custom X, that helps me out with travel. So the prospect of this trip began to flow through my veins.

The idea of going to Tahiti was no new ordeal. I cruised and showed the pack of my Tahitian brothers around earlier this year when they came to the North Shore. With our friendship came this dream of heading down to visit them in their home this summer ... or at least sometime in the future. That "sometime" being vague and uncertain. It still lingered in the back of my mind.

The dream of surfing Teahupoo finally. The dream of checking out some more of Polynesia. The dream of eating some good food and cruising with good friends at their home. Man ... it all definitely filled my dreams.

With some encouragement from my good friend Wade, I decided to take the plunge and go. It would only be for a week. I figured, though, that one week is better than no week.

As the week approached, the surf charts showed a Code Red swell. One that only comes once, maybe twice a season. One that was sure to clobber French Polynesia. One that seriously got my heart racing before I even boarded the flight down there. Oh wow ... this trip was panning out to be straight business.

As I did my daily sprints, I was envisioning getting completely hammered by waves and getting held down for a long time. By a long time I mean borderline drowning. Ironic since those premonitions, if that's what we want to call them, were definitely shadows of events to come.

Upon arriving in Tahiti, I could sense a similar but different feeling than Hawaii. I suppose more of an outer island feel than an Oahu feel. I think it's because Oahu has become a clogged city island. Oahu has subverted the true Polynesian spirit. By Polynesian spirit I don't mean that other places don't have their own version of it or that Polynesians are somewhat better than others, I just mean that Oahu has lost touch with its positive culture. In other words, Oahu has definitely lost its Hawaiian cultural feel to it in exchange for hotels, traffic, concrete and taxis.

As I made my way out of customs outside Faaa airport, I was greeted with leis by friends. Sort of cliche, in some ways, but it was authentic. It was true. Real.

Alvino Tupuai, my good friend and Teahupoo charger, was there to pick me up. He seriously is one of the coolest people I know. There is never a dull moment cruisin with that bradda. We made our way to his house where I would be staying with him, his girlfriend Albein, and two Australian chargers named Dan and Ben.

Due to all the experiences I had on this trip, and the fact I want to get into more detail about it all, I will break it down into sections and make a separate post for each so that I don't write the longest blog post of all time. The trip will be broken into the ten following posts:

Unexpected Day at Tapuna - Tapuna Masters.
Morning Awakening - First Time at Teahupoo.
Afternoon Awakening - Evening at The Spot.
Serious Business - Next Morning at The Spot.
Note to Self - Just Go Out!
Sad Business - The Salty Death of My 7D.
Ta'apuna - True Polynesian Spirit.
Worked Us - The Delay.
What Kooks - Hawaii Surfers.
Steak Frites - Tahiti in Retrospect.