looking to expand my big wave awareness

Hello- Sir I’ll give you my .02 on ‘expanding your awareness’ on surfing bigger waves.

I think it doesn’t even take a wave to teach you what you can or can’t do in any given situation. Let me give you an exp I had one morning while at work.one morning I had to do some work on top of a roof of a housei was working on. Anyhow, I’ve never really was one who liked working on roofs etc., and at one time I had a serious fear of heights. But I’ve taught myself by gradually scaling up to higher levels and have more or less rid myself of fear. But on one morning I just did not feel confident going up on that roof that day! I should have called my boss and told him I can’t do it right now, to go up without a spotter to hold the ladder…
But I we
nt up against my premonition of danger… So I get up there and I’m feeeling so so, but all of the sudden I started to slide and I sprawled like an octopus almost and it managed to steady me there for the moment… Then I tried to move, but my self-doubt sprung up and alll of the sudden I started to slide a bit again! I was losing it man! But I kept my little confiedence I had-when an “inner voice” came in. That voice told me, “Jim keep your composure or confidence or you’re f’d!” So I followed my intuitive message from my inner voice or guardian angel. I’ve heard we each are born with one btw… So on my second slide I told myself to not move again-until I was totally confident to move again.

So I waited about the time it took to regain my confidence-which seemed about 4-5 mins or so? But once I got my confidence I was able to act with more control. So I finally get up onto my knees-which where splayed out wide to keep my balance as it turned out the roof had been slightly damp and had moss growth-which made it slippery… So I decide to go back down before I fell to what would be a serious injury and possibly death as it was a 2 story house with a fence below…anyhow, I finally was able to act when I was ‘SURE OF MYSELF’ period.
That’s my msg to you. Do not surf or take any action on any endeavor if you DON’T FEEL SURE OF YOURSELF. That is my rule in life or surfing etc… If you don’t feel confident you shouldn’t be outhere. Also, if you’re not physically fit and up to the challenge, without proper knowledge it would be foolish to be outhere. Follow your gut feeling or intuition as it won’t lie. Above all only act when you’re SURE of yourself. Never try to imperess anyone by surfing big waves, as there are plenty of dead heroes…infact, I recently heard a show off was trying to impress a girl by racing his car through a neigborhood-only to collide into a wall and kill himself in front of the women…that said, I prefer fun size waves! And my biggest day so far has been about 8 foot and that was pressing it. I geuss we need to discover our realistic level. I never did care for big surf.

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Aloha Emmitt:

I wish I was 25 years old again.  At 55 and with my current lifestyle, my big wave riding days are behind  me.  I just can't take the beating and hold my breath like I use to.  Anyway, I wanted to give a suggestion to expanding your big wave awarenes and that is to get a good big wave surf coach.  I had a few friends that did this and I saw their confidence level go through the roof after surfing with a surf coach.  I recommend Darrick Doerner.  You can find him at www.dd-sea.com.  I think that your surfing will improve but he can provide you with some insights and improve your understanding of the oceans too.  There are many pro surfers that seek his advice also.


As for me,  I am happy riding head high south shore waves on a longboard or a fun board.  Two 3-hour sessions a week and I am a happy camper.

Good luck on your journey and keep us posted on your progress.


Uncle D


For board leashes check out Crow Haley from California.  Some of of those crazy big wavers use them.  And if you do break the leash you can re-tie the swivel to leash cord connection- do a clove-hitch with the ends up through the bend of the leash cord. 

thanks for all the advice i really appreciate everything you guys have to offer.  Thrailkill as far as square tails, im not adverse to the shape but the expanded tail width, you say i couldnt be more wrong, but you dont tell me exactly why, and i dont mean any disrspect im just interested.  i know from my own experience at say sunset and other spots, that on a wider tail board on 6 foot plus surf, after making the drop i go to put the board on rail but i cant sink the tail to turn it, at least not as easy.  i can feel the water pressure forcing up higher in the water and planing, and i find on worst case scenarios, i go to the rail and just keep goin and the board keeps goin straight, albeit very fast.  its my understanding that stretchs bat tail guns and some relatively popular swallow tail guns accomplish shortening the length but the tail shape helps sink the edges enough to make a solid turn.  i am open to different ideas, but its hard to argue with the classic vee pintail that guys have been riding to glory for years.  i can see how a pin tail could really protrude into the wave to much and cause it to track but wouldnt some tail flip help it out.  i like the idea of release that a square tail provides but i just dont know about extra tail width. i think a single fin is also a pretty good deal too, i heard and interview with Gerry lopez to day and he says how singles have a much higher max speed than thrusters which have extra drag, that bein said i am also quite interested in quads as i can imagine a single fin slipping in very steep sections where a quad may just grip.  im interested in what everyone thinks.  

i also very stoked to finally to get a leash recommendation Hawaiiak and Rhodey rider, thank you for that i will check them out, still waiting for a leash string ideas though.  ive been working on a training program, i am thinking about working mostly on my core muscles, doin just basic exercises , crunches, pullups and whatnot. plus i really love to body surf so that helps. hopefully i can find a dive partner this summer who can help me develop a bit more.  it all seems to be helping, i had a couple good days this past week at the outer left but im just stoked to be out there, Hawaii is a beautiful and sacred place, and i am so inspired by the working surfers out there who just charge, thats where id like to be.


Leash string, go to West Marine or anywhere they sell good quality sailboat rope, use the thinest diameter with the highest breaking strenght. Make sure you get it cut to the length you need with the store’s hot wire.


The performance issues you described sound more like outline and rocker problems to me.   A board with design deficiencies, square or pintail, will have the kind of problems you described.   I've given you good advice, derived from personal experience, in the very lineups you aspire to.     If you choose to follow it,  or not, is your choice.    Best of luck to you. 

I'm backing Uncled on his recommendation to seek professional guidance. 

I'm sure Derrick Doerner is a competent big wave coach so I'm just mentioning this as an alternative plan.

I posted on a different thread that Ken Bradshaw had a recent article in Vanity Fair.  Turns out he has a surf school as well.  Lessons range from beginners groups to one-on-one advanced lessons using jet-skis for tow ins, etc.

No doubt either guy could expand big wave awareness for any of us.

while i think that isnt bad advice, im not financially able to go in that direction, nor do i think that information like that should necessarily be “sold”.  im just a young guy barely makin ends meet on the rock, and premium surf lessons just dont really fit in my equation. just looking for some friendly and sound advice to help me slowly push my level of surfing to its potential.  that does not mean i dont respect those guys ive always been inspired by them and still am, i surfed with Doerner a while back at some pretty big Jocko’s and he was charging! consistently taking off deeper than everyone, really inspiring.  

Ah Grasshopper:

In Hawaii, not everything is paid for in cash.  You must learn the art of hoʻo.mali.mali and use your wala'au skills to win friends and influence people.  Double D is a really nice guy and he can give you advice if you know how to approach him.  That is how my friends got his advice.  Of course they also took good care of him with meals and other favors.  I think they are all good buddies now.


Aloha Emmitt.

Sorry I missed your PM and didn’t see this thread till recently.  The questions you are asking are substantial.  You are delving into areas that are the domain of highly experienced surfers, craftsmen and watermen.  I understand your youth, your zeal and your newness to Hawaii and big wave riding.  So please take what I am going to say below in the positive spirit it is meant.

The information you are looking to gain may seem like it should come for free, but the reality is that the world just doesn’t work like that.  You are thinking because you got a “pit pass” at the Indianapolis 500, that all the pro, drivers, mechanics, designers, engineers and strategists in the pits now owe you their time and expertise for free.  They ain’t your hometown bros.  They are highly skilled pros, deserving your respect and your money if that is what it takes to get the access you need.

Take your time Emmitt.  Earn the respect of the pros.  Take the time to pay into the system, long before you try to suck anything out of the system.  Realize how many people come to Hawaii every day expecting everyone here to “help them out” or “make their lives work”.  Few places in the world have as many transients arriving every day that expect the local residents to accommodate them and their personal needs. It isn’t the responsibility of the residents of Hawaii’s to make life work out for everyone that drifts here.

 Hawaii is one of the most expensive places in the world to live.  Never use your lack of money as an excuse to get something cheaper then it properly sells for.  No one here cares.  There are tons of jobs in Hawaii that need hard working, clear headed and devoted workers to offset the damages from all the screwups, drifters and dreamers that come to Hawaii hoping to pursue their narcissistic and self indulgent fantasies at the cost of others.  Being too “poor” to pay your own way, won’t fly here with the locals.  Get a job, work hard and earn you way.  And never judge others for what they have to charge to survive here.  Get it very clear in your head that you are a guest in their land.  Don’t be a parasite looking to survive on the Aloha Spirit of Hawaiian’s.  It gets old really quick.

The people of Hawaii are immensely caring and helpful.  The biggest hearts in the world exist here.  It is what happens when you live thousands of miles away from everyone else in middle of the ocean.  It becomes imperative and essential to support your neighbors because… on an Island, there is no one else near by to watch your back.  Take your time.  Hang Loose.  Earn the social position needed through which the information you seek commonly flows. 

Recognize that no other sport allows you to, without paying immense dues, take a few laps against Bobby Godon, or shoot hoops against Shaq, or race against Lance Armstrong.  There is nothing wrong with looking for friendly sound advice from your peers but you are missing the point that you aren’t asking about surfing and boards for the 2 to 3 foot waves back in your home town.  That is the amateur race course, the North Shore is the pro track!  What you need to know to survive here is the domain of the worlds best watermen and they don’t owe you squat!

A plane ticket to Hawaii is like a spectator ticket to the Indy 500.  Except here you can mingle with the pros. But just because the ocean is free and you can paddle out and surf in the same waves on the same day that Derrick Doerner does, doesn’t give you any rights to the depths of knowledge and experience these kinds of surfers and board builders have sweated their lives to learn.

NEVER imply in a public forum, that you think there is something immoral about these watermen charging for this information and then actually expect those same guys, who contain the information you need, to provide it for free.  

Good luck with your quest.




Aloha Bill,

I understand your comments and i respect them very much but i think you have misunderstood my aims.  this is not in defense of my self but rather a declaration.  I am not some hoale tourist who got off the plain and assuming that this land is mine for the taking.  a long time before i came to this island that ive come to love so much, it was made very clear to me that the only way to succeed here is to give back.  this is what i try to remember everyday i spend in this beautiful and raw place.  I am not some surf bum living in a tent on the north shore just trying to score as many waves as i can until i run out of money.  i work two jobs( and about to pick up another) and that barely pays for rent.  i also am attending UH in pursuit of a degree in literature.  I take Hawaiian language classes, i work at Kamehameha Schools, who only teach Hawaiian children, i care for the 'aina and always try to leave the beach cleaner then when i came to it.  i don’t hassle for waves, or drop in, i wait my turn, i give waves when i can, i dont pass judgement and i have the utmost respect for all of the locals and transients alike.  I am acutely aware that when im out “playing” in the surf, some of the guys are out there trying to put food on the table for their families, and i respect that very much.  the fact that you say that i am implicating some waterman of immorality for selling their knowledge is actually very upsetting for me.  these men,(and women) are my surf heros, especially Doerner! His impact on surfing is so immense and important and my impact is nonexistant, i would never pass judgement on someone that i look up to so much.  As i stated in the first post of this thread,  I’m only looking for some friendly advice, what kind of leas string, etc.  This is what i meant about the comment of this knowledge being, “sold”, if this thread were about who would be the best big wave coach then i would understand the hostility but it was never meant to be that.  I do have a strong feeling as well that if i was going to make it out here, i was going to have to earn a place in the lineup, not buy one, i want to take the poundings, i want to learn the rips, i want to swim half a mile back to the beach.  when i have broken through this plateau, perhaps then it will be time to seek a professional coach.  to say that i assume that because i can paddle out, i deserve all the secrets, is just totally off base and wrong.  I know my place in the lineup, i don’t think i should get the “keys to ranch” just for showing up, all i asked was for some friendly advice. i never asked for someone to hold my hand. I will be out at the reefs when its ten foot, getting my licks, stoked and happy, trying to learn the aloha and always with a smile on my face.  i love this land and its people and i am very thankful that you have posted, i thought what you said was necessary and respectful, i just want to clear the air about my intentions here and how i try to live my life with a strive to hopefully contribute more than i take, like the beatle song yeah! " And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make!"



The master and the pupil, so natural, so beautifull, about the original home of surfing, I'm sure the Duke would be smiling at both you guys, cheers H.

Good reply emmitt.  If I have misjudged you I apologize.  But you had me worried with your reply to UncleD’s suggestion that you try working with Derrick D.  You said…

[quote] while i think that isnt bad advice, im not financially able to go in that direction, nor do i think that information like that should necessarily be "sold".  im just a young guy barely makin ends meet on the rock, and premium surf lessons just dont really fit in my equation. [/quote]

This sounded a lot like you were saying you couldn’t afford that level of expertise and further more, that you didn’t think those who had that expertise should be selling it.  If I was mistaken I am sorry but I really didn’t see any other way to interpet what you were saying in your comment to UncleD.

Let me also apologize to those here who suggested you contact me for help regarding your questions as I may not have lived up to their expectations.  If your up to it, you should stop by my shop sometime and visit.  The breadth and depth of the questions you posed would be too tedious to respond to in text and more easy to discuss in person.

It sounds like you are working hard at having all your ducks in a row and for that I commend you.  Hopefully, the things you seek will fall into place in due time.

Emmitt, you say you work at Kamehameha. I’m a graduate, and my younger daughter is now a senior.

They have a surf club there and they have a surf team. One of the team coaches is Kaipo Guerrero a local charger in his day. You may want to check with Ms. Lea D’Arcy the school advisor and maybe hook up with the club then get to know Kaipo and the boys. He still charges big surf, and he’s from a family of well known watermen.

Another place to get good advice is from the Downing Surf shop. George and Keone are lifetime watermen, and have ridden the biggest waves at all the big wave spots. They are always very happy to talk story and they could help you out with board specs, or at least give you their perspective.

The other thing I do is ask the guys that are in the water when you surf what they ride. Most will be willing to tell you what they have and why. I always ask guys what they’re riding and most will jump off and show you the whole board. I do it as well.

Like Uncle D says, it’s all in the way you do it. Ho’omalimali and Wala’au 2 words that will open a lot of doors in Hawaii. Dennis is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. My brother is hoping to have a get together this July when Hicksy comes over, maybe you can join us and other Swaylocks folks and make some connections.

  Aloha emmitt. All I can is to listen to your peers that have lived in Hawaii for many years because even the best people with the best intentions sometimes just don't last for one reason or another. I have seen a lot of nice people move to Hawaii and after a few years they decide to move away because they get rock fever or just get homesick. Both Bill and sharkcountry ahve given you some great advise an I learned through my 40+ years to always keep my ears open since I could always learn. Aloha,Kokua


sorry i havent been able to respond to your posts earlier, unfortunately i managed to fry my keyboard, bummer but theses things happen.  thanks to all of yopur recent posts, i am so thankful to all of you and very appreciative of your contributions.  Bill, i am very humbled and greatful for your words, and i would love to come in and talk.  Sharkcountry, i am really stoked to hear that KS has a surf team and i will definitely look up the coach, and volunteer if they have a need.  The Downing shop you mentioned, is that the one on waialae? if so its only right down the street from my house, ive done a lot of reading about the downing family and they are an amazing source of inspiration to me! Thank you Kokua for the advice, i will heed it, i am very thankful to eveeryone who has contributed to this thread, my idea for which was not only to be useful for myself, but for anyone who is interested in growing their surfing instead of just buying a big gun and gettin in over their heads.  I think the mood of this post correctly conveys the right attitude and i would also like to add that i find that its very important to push oneself within ones own limits.  learning ones limits is not too difficult if your aware of fear. i try to be aware of this when im pushing myself, and try to use it to my advantage.  it is important to me to be self reliant and prepared for the conditions, i dont go out unless i know that i can swim in if i have to. as a lifeguard back home for years i have an appreciation for the dedication selflessnes of people who put themselves on the line to help someone, and i think its my job as a surfer, as well as all surfers, to make that happen as least as possible.  thats my little contribution( or disclaimer if you will) and i just want to make sure that anyone who reads this understands this, which im sure is a collected notion, and that everytime we step onto the beach or into the water, the responsability rests on our own shoulders, whether it be safety, environment, or attitude.  ok i will go back to listening again hahaha.

mahalo nui loa,


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