I was impressed by the respect the tow-in community showed the paddlers at Peahi during the big swell Wednesday January 4th. On Oahu that kind of respect is non-existent. A significant number of tow-in folks show the paddlers no respect at all. The ONLY surf spot on Oahu where tow-in surfing is prohibited AT ALL TIMES is Hammerheads. On Tuesday January 3rd while surfing there, on two separate occasions a tow team faded me while I was taking off. The first time I was so shocked I tried to pull back and of course, it was too late, and I ended up going over the falls. My first thought seeing this guy whipping in at me from the channel was not to drop in because I didn’t want to get hurt or hurt somebody else.
SNN Note: This video has nothing to do the story. Also Note: it is the Law: Towing only when Warnings are posted with 25' crest to trough on outer reefs or 15' local scale.
If I had dropped in I might have chopped him in two or been chopped in two. The second time I figured I was just going to chop him in two and if I got close enough I would make sure he took the brunt of the collision. He would have earned it. We both had to punch out under that wave and he was so close we banged into each other underwater. The only reason I didn’t grab him and shove him under for a lesson was because my leash broke and I was fortunate to have my board pop up within swimming distance and there wasn’t another wave right behind it to wash it in. I figured it more important to get my board than teach that fool a lesson. Someone with that little respect doesn’t deserve my wrath. What a waste of energy.
There were six different tow teams buzzing around the lineup while four or five of us were trying to paddle. To make it worse, it wasn’t even big enough to tow. It was barely a high surf advisory with the swell being about 8’ feet - shame on these guys for even being out there towing. It’s pitiful to think they either don’t have the skill, the training or the balls to paddle into waves that size and they think they’re cool towing a spot that’s marginally breaking that they should NEVER BE AT IN THE FIRST PLACE! To make it even worse, some of the guys can’t even surf. We could clearly hear the dialogue of a driver giving a novice rider instruction on where to turn as the guy quasimotoed his way across a section only to get mowed down because he couldn’t figure out where to make his next turn. Occasionally these clowns will stay off the peak and chase insiders underneath. Maybe they think that’s acceptable and they’re staying away. They couldn’t be more wrong. When they do that they drive all around the break and their boat wakes fill the surf zone with cross chop so bad that when we catch waves it’s like dropping in down a staircase or worse, trying to make a bottom turn through a mogul field. No respect. They’re clueless - because they’ve never paddled out there when the tow guys are buzzing around.
On this same day, one tow team pulled up and the surfer paddled into the peak. Turns out it was a pair of wahine who encouraged us to report all the HA numbers of the boats buzzing around because they were giving the rest of the tow teams a bad name. They then went around to the various boats and scolded them. Go figure; a couple of haole wahine putting the shame on these guys. Brilliant!
The last thing we want to do is have a confrontational encounter when out surfing. We’re out there on a beautiful day enjoying the surf and these tow teams show up and ruin the vibe. They totally destroy it.
Truthfully, the rules should be changed. Tow-in surfing should be prohibited unless there’s a HIGH SURF WARNING. High surf advisory just isn’t big enough to justify tow surfing. I seriously doubt the guys towing at 8’ are towing anywhere when it’s 15’-20’ – when towing is appropriate.
I’m nobody – never have been – never will be. And I like it that way. I know my limits and you’ll never see me paddling on an outer reef when it’s 15’-20’. The guys that tow when it’s really big get all my respect because inevitably they will pay to play. And they pay big no matter what.
Please let’s all make nice and follow the rules. Oahu is blessed with so many waves that the tow-in guys have more options than anywhere else on earth. Leave the one spot designated for paddling alone and go somewhere else.