HOLA IF YA HEAR ME
CYCLONE HOLA LIGHTS UP THE BAY DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIE-PAI DAVISON.
The 2018 South Pacific Cyclone season was one busy period which saw a phenomenal amount of storm activity pass close by or onto New Zealand, with a total of six tropical cyclones and several more depressions bringing adverse weather affects to our islands.
While as surfers we tend to froth on these tropical storms and hype them into liquid dreams well before any of them even set themselves in what experts will tell us is never a certain path. What sets our emotions into overdrive is these systems often offer a glimmer of hope at scoring set-ups that live in the realms of mythology, waves that are often referred to in back in the day stories.
Of these various cyclonic systems which offered so much hope and dreams only two ended up delivering the kind of long distance groomed swell that we ideally associate with these events, the rest either delivered Australia with smoking waves or dumped plenty of rain and howling onshore on our doorsteps. But that’s not to say they weren’t a part of delivering epic surf! You see heavy rain brings floods and floods bring debris crashing down rivers, streams and creeks of which ultimately end up meeting the ocean at some point. So, while several of these cyclones didn’t produce any surf they did their job and produced deposits of rare and unique river bars, ready and waiting for a fresh swell to light up. It was going to be a team effort cyclone + cyclone hopefully equalling barrels.
The issue with any sediment, be it sand, gravel, even rocks, is that when the ocean decides to move it is an extremely powerful force, so any newly formed structure usually leads a temporary existence, and while many bars would have formed during this weather across the country our focus was on one particular formation being dubbed, ‘The Superbar’ by local Bay surfers. Not only did we have the Superbar but also the Novelty Bar, but with a slight onshore swell filling in the void between the eminent arrival of the Cyclone Hola swell and offshore winds, would any of these creations even exist come game day?
The novelty bar was first to disintegrate and wash away, but several sessions went down on what could be described as a once in a lifetime event, considering the last time there was a bar reported here was 25 years ago, maybe for some more senior surfers this was a twice in lifetime gig. Hopes were high and with an offshore change the night before and a swell filling in throughout the night the call from ‘The Bay’ was “Day of days” at first light. But this call had been heard before, the ‘Bay who cried wolf’ had been spinning this yarn over and over far too often and many had lost faith. Those all time, prime 400-metrelong shingle bars had many times before been there one tide, and been gone on the next, offering marginal waves and broken dreams.
At first light Hola had done its bit and the Bay was lined up with swell that was only meant to carry on building, the local Jammas were frothing as they negotiated the deep shingle access down the coast by way of 4WD. Yet for all the swell that appeared to be pouring into the Bay, the bar itself appeared short, and only pulling in a fraction of the swell, a usually certain sign that the bar was well past its used by date. Heads started to dip, some even pulled pin and went to work, and there was a silent sombre mood for a while. But those that live for these small unique windows of opportunity in the Bay, they know that it’s all about tide, and there is no real way of knowing, or pattern to follow and that each bar has its own personality. 20 minutes later and that personality was revealed! All she needed was a little more water and her form was divulged.
Ben Hazelwood was the first recipient to pick up a major Hola reward, and his first wave standing tall from way outside with his hands tucked behind his back locked in for the entire length of the bar. For those that already weren’t prepping their tools, once that went down there was a whole lot more urgency and a different attitude being displayed and within minutes Hola was being infested by a pack of rats looking for drainpipes.
For the next couple of hours those in attendance traded wave for wave, with most slowly getting their quota of rights before drifting over to sample the lefts which offered just as much of a buzz. A two-way dredging river bar peak with just a couple of handfuls of local lads on it, someone needed to pinch these blokes in case it was all just a mirage, but for the now there’s no way they were waking from the dream.
Logan Owen had shown up late but was out there wasting no time threading pit after pit, before his session was ended when he collided with another board in the pit slicing open his heel close to his Achilles tendon, leaving a trail of claret which lead back to his car along the shoreline pebbles. Resigned to missing out on what was already a ‘Day of days’ he took one look back at the lineup, saw Jezza Evans being spat out of another pit and immediately reached into the back of his truck for a roll of insulation tape, Buck Shelford style, and bound it up and paddled back out! Others came running in to ring the boss and inform them they were either really sick or were straight up telling them this is the day I’ve waited my whole life for I won’t be coming to work today! And then the hardest calls of all were those being made to the wives and girlfriends cancelling commitments, which saw the earpieces feed back with what sounded much like someone being tortured, with pleads such as “But babe, I’ll make it up to you honey, this is the best day ever, but but wait you don’t understand!” Followed by silence. So, I’m sure there are still a few fellas locked in brownie points mode as you read this.
With the session four hours deep, the wind shifted to the north and ruffled up the faces also forcing sections to crumble, yes the morning session was truly magical 10/10 stuff but if you were to ask yourself when would this phenomena ever occur again, the answer would probably be not in the next few years at least, so despite an annoying wind chop the bar still delivered moments of brilliance until late afternoon and the full tide all but filled it in. The crew that had lucked in finally made their way in 8 hours after first paddling out. At first, they appeared stunned but as the realisation hit them, out came the high fives, knuckles and bro downs. Bronson Primmer who was burnt to a crisp looking like a sun-baked prune summed it all up quite well “That was the most I’ve surfed since I was a grom, but finally we scored her, the Bay finally delivered, cheers to the Jammas!”. And here’s some cheers to Hola…
While the low tide looked like the bar had all disintegrated and the swell faded with a little push in tide the water moved onto the bar and Ben Hazelwood got piped the whole way down the bar and for the next few hours one of the all time sessions went down.
Bronson Primmer has moulded his life around being able to drop tools and hit these bars on the rare occassions that they turn on, cause it's not as if they'll wait around for those who happen to be busy.
Bronson Primmer hoots an early campaigner on.
Cody Groves had a few commitments this day, but the lure of the Hola delivery was to much for him to refuse and it's fair to say he got into a bit of hot water..
Seagulls always seem to know where the best banks are..