history never repeats
All good roadies start well before sun up; heading off in the dark, still half asleep and hungry, calling in to pick up mates on the way, waking them up after they slept through their alarm, stacking boards on the roof and punching on through those small country towns, scanning for the first bakery with fresh pies and coffee to open its doors. The driver on roadies such as these is the true hero of the morning, he remains focussed while everyone else falls back into slumber mode, and single-handedly delivers the lads to the waves, every so often a pot hole is hit or a radical swerve is necessary, followed by a "Sorry lads, didn't see that till last minute," although the wry grin across the drivers face gives the impression that the action had purpose, perhaps a little reminder not to get too comfortable!
The 79th Primo Roady began with similar fashion, although the thick fog of the Waikato region made our travels slow and a little dodgy not being able to see the centre line with cattle trucks appearing from the dense white and flying past as if they had 100 % visibility, scary to say the least. Somewhere up ahead we knew there was a tight corner with a railway crossing that had some serious ability to launch a car, and although it was expected, the low visibility meant we came in way to hot and as the humps were hit, launching the sleeping travel companions and the jetski in tow into the air there were a few abusive comments being thrown down. Well at least everyone was now awake. Early morning NZ is soul cleansing, this is hands down my favourite part of the day, as the sun brings life to the new day, the way the rising light illuminates the curves and forms of the landscape is mind blowing, the birds have taken flight and other animals begin their frolic in the warmth. The golden rays beam through the roadside forestry and a family of pigs goes about digging for a feed only metres from the road unconcerned that we drive on by. These are the moments that make you appreciate where we live. After winding through the mountains and down along the coast we arrive up on the lookout spot where Daniel Kereopa is already sitting waiting on us, "It's massive" are his
welcoming words. The reef where we are headed sits eight km out off the coast but before we could even get anywhere near that, we first had to launch the jet ski's off this wild West Coast beach below and punch out through lines of exploding white water that were stacked up out to the horizon. With forecasts calling for a late arvo pulse in the swell it was just going to get bigger, so there was no rush. We would wait for the tide to fill in making negotiation of the maxed out coastline a little easier. With a mixed bag of crew coming in from all areas of the country all searching for the thrill of riding a beast, we had Gisborne's Blair Stewart and Damon Gunness, Bay Of Plenty's Clint Reid and now Aucklander Sam Willis, rounding out the crew was Raglan's DK. While most of the lads were going to tow surf, DK as DK does, planned on attacking the session a little differently and had the biggest grin on his face as he pulled out his new big wave paddle gun, all 9'2" of it. How we would get that board out through the breaking surge of whitewater would be another challenge, but DK reckoned it would be "A piece of piss!" Sam, the man known as Sanga hadn't seen the lads for quite sometime, after travelling overseas most of last year, recently returning home to set up his own business in Auckland. He kept the boys entertained running round in his one piece, one mil neoprene body-suit that did a good job of leaving nothing to the imagination in the downstairs visual department, Yuck! I must say we were all jealous of this new product that was to be worn under your wetsuit adding a tonne of warmth and keeping the freedom, but the look of it worn solo he should have been arrested for. After a team effort to get the trailers down the beach and the ski's into the surf we began the zig zag through the maelstrom, looking for that one small window of opportunity to punch a clear gap to get out the back. DK's board came loose which meant turning around and heading back to the safety of the inside gutter to re-tie before our second attempt. Getting out seemed far too easy, perhaps it was a long lull, after all, the swell was still building or at least we hoped! Skis are a joy to use when surface conditions are smooth, however when lumpy they are simply frustrating, and making headway can be slow. After an easy half hour of stop start and punching duck dives into oncoming waves on the ski we arrived, cold, wet and with stinging eyeballs. A couple of beast waves rumbled across the reef signalling the start of a frantic rush to be first out there. This wave had only been surfed a few times and only by tow surfing, no one had ever paddled into a wave here yet. DK knew this and this was part of his inspiration to paddle, he has a heap of experience in waves like this, yet didn't want to watch the conditions for too long and be psyched out so wrapped his 15 foot leash around his ankle and stroked for the take off. By now the tow teams already had a few under their belt with Clint and Damon bagging a couple of bumpy beasts, we always
knew the conditions would be less than desirable, it was the size we were after and according to the swell report it was about to get twice this size over the next couple of hours. DK played cat and mouse dodging mini mountains of water slowly working his way into the prime spot for a take off, then picked the right one, appearing as a tiny dot threw down his head and stroked frantically as the swell lurched up and DK catapulted over the ledge down the face to ride out on the shoulder. History written and that cheeky little grin of DK's was beaming. The next hour played out in similar fashion, yet the swell slowly began to decline in size and form. The lads had talked this session up big time, and had been focussed all week in raising the bar of big wave surfing to a new realm, yet it never eventuated so emotions of disappointment
LEFT: Another pioneering moment for DK writing his name into the history books again! | ABOVE: Maz Quinn hacking in between barrel sections.
BELOW: Bevan Wiig managed to get a pit, but couldn’t manage to share his brew.
Mt Maunganui's Clint Reid didn't learn this at home. With many roadies under his belt searching for waves like this, Clint is ready and waiting for when the day comes.
TOP TO BOTTOM: Damon Gunness drops in while DK launches for a crayfish | Welcome to the new day. |A deep up top teaser goes unridden.