The beautiful unpredictability of ol ma ocean…
If there’s one beautiful thing left in this charred piece of steak we call mother earth, it’s the unpredictability of the ocean.
Even with all the buoys, virtual and real, computer modelling and so on, man still can’t correctly predict what the surf’s going to be like even one day out.
To wit, for the past few days, the Pipe Masters has been readying itself for a six-to-eight-foot west swell.
“Finals Day is looking really likely for tomorrow” has been the mantra although each morning sleepy eyes on the North Shore reveal nothing like the official surf forecaster, Surfline, predicted.
Here’s a few days of tweets.
Now with two days left in the waiting period, one presumes tomorrow is the day.
But who knows, yes?
The one man I can always count on, and whose eponymous youtube channel always leaves me feeling moderately high, is Jamie O’Brien, who grew up in a rental house at Pipe, won the Pipe Masters in 2004 and who bought his own domicile behind the famous Lopez house, one hundred or so steps from the sand.
Jamie, now thirty-six, was shopping for Christmas presents in Haleiwa when I called.
“Everyone kept asking for my two cents, it doesn’t matter for me, I’m not in it,” says Jamie.
I point out that as a former Mr Pipe Masters and a long-term resident of that stretch of sand and reef, his opinion is worth something.
Jamie laughs and says, “I think it’ll be stressful to be one of those three guys trying to win a world title trying to figure out if it’s going to be the beautiful Pipe they’ve been training for or an air contest.”
For tomorrow, he says it’s going to be “pretty dang good. The swell is 320 degrees which is the almost perfect direction (north-north-west). The wind looks tremendously better than today. I think it’ll be six-plus but the winds might be weird. It’ll start off north-east (good) but then it could be funky. This season has been hard to judge. All the wind models have been wrong this year.”
And the sand that promises a terrific closeout end section?
“Well, the sand was crazy, the north-east swell brought a lot of sand in. The sand’s not all gone but it definitely looks a lot better than the other day.”
I mention that it’s been fifteen years since he won the Pipe Masters.
“Goddammit,” says Jamie, who won the event as a Rip Curl wildcard. He adds that the labyrinth one must navigate to get into the contest is too much for most to bear.
“You need to have enough points to qualify for the Volcom Pro, then you have to get through four heats or better to get into the Billabong Pipe Masters trials and then you have to get a first or second to get into the Pipe Masters. It’s a nightmare.”
Is he excited for finals day?
“I’m pumped. It’ll be a good show. Finals day is awesome for multiple reasons. The world title showdown happens and I’m excited for everyone to go home. It’s a win-win.”