Chris Bertish Blog Update 2.
Fly the flag for RSA, that I can do and will always, but Quarter’s finals, holy smokes, we’ll just see how it goes!
I arrived the day before the trials in the evening, straight to the Naniloa Hotel, right on the water in Hilo. I went and jumped in the pool and trained for a bit, before settling in, catching up on work and getting my board and equipment sorted for opening Ceremony and ready for action in the morning..and so it begins!
I wake up early to a beautiful Hilo day, blue skies, warm and tropical paradise meets my weary eyes as I pull back the sheets and greet the morning.
I grab an essential Starbucks Soy Latte, before my brain kicks in to gear and I am ready for a special day.. I decide to get some morning exercise and paddle across the bay..Great idea at first thought.
Grabbing my board and paddle,I jump into the water & head across the bay. All good and well, do a quick 4km circuit and start heading back..I hear four blasts of a horn and realize one of the cruise ships are probably leaving shortly..
I gauge where I am and realise I’m just crossing the shipping channel. I quicken my pace a little and start heading for the hotel and then I see it.. A beast of a cruise liner heading straight out the harbour, coming my way!
It looks like it’s going really slow at first glance, twenty seconds later, I realise it’s not going as slow as I thought…My paddle stroke quickens dramatically and I aim for the closest channel marker buoy 500m in front of me. Every 10 seconds the ship gets larger and closer & my stress levels increase in equal measures.
I just make it to the Channel marker and jump on..Safety! ha ha, my heart beating like a Hawaiian drum at a Luau. You gotta laugh..Lesson 101.
Don’t get run over by a 500ft cruise liner the day before competition.
I make it in, laughing at myself and get ready for the ceremony and parade later.
We head down with our National flags and join all the other Nationalities to do a nations parade down the promenade, before attending an ancient Hawaiian blessing and ceremony for the event..unique, spiritual and special, in true Hawaiian style.
That afternoon, I headed down to Honol’i, where the contest site was and went for a paddle to check out the conditions and get a feel of my equipment..super fun waves, in warm water, under blue tropical skies, what more can you ask for..well maybe about twenty to thirty turtles in the lineup!
I have never in my life seen so many turtles in one spot at one time..All eagerly balancing themselves in the current running through the lineup from the river as it courses it’s way into the bay.
After an hour or so of super fun waves, I traded my SUP for goggles and and went turtle crazy..It’s hard to swim with turtles and then wipe the smile off your face for the rest of the day.
Awesome experience, pure joy and stoke is the only way to describe the positive feeling you have after swimming & gliding with these little friendly creatures for a couple of special hours.
I headed back to the hotel and caught up with work & prepped for the day of competition ahead…
The first day was the Trials and good to see the waves were fun and contestable and the level of surfing really good.
Kids in the ages 10-16, ripping & surfing so good they gained Wild cards into the main event!
The following day, was a lay day and time to get use to the conditions and have some fun.. I ended up prone surfing my Naish Hookoa 8.4ft for a couple hours without the paddle, which was super fun. It’s amazing how well the new Stand ups ride as surfboards, especially my little 8.4ft rascal, the flying banana.
After a great surf, I paddled up the river, much to my delight, to find the most insane Rainbow falls…
Paddling up rivers is definitely not over rated, believe me, what a blast!
Dodging rocks, taking in the lush vegetation, negotiating rapids & eddies, its awesome and finding an amazing waterfall at the end of the journey, was like finding the treasure at the end of the rainbow!
I ended up ditching the SUP and swimming across and finding my way up the rocks on the side of this 20 metre high, cascading beauty and to my amazement & surprise, discovered a cave that had scoured it’s way behind the waterfall..Insane, I sneaked in, under and behind the curtain and just beamed the hugest smile for the next half hour as I found every possible way to take pics from within, around, under, over the waterfall.
After being transfixed and mesmerized by the beauty and splendour of the falls, I headed back rejuvenated and re-charged and smiling like a Trescha cat on acid! Wow, what an awesome day…
Competition day…I get down early, well that is after the second round of Starbucks of cousre and am greeted by the heat lineup!
Local wonder kid, Peyo Lizaro-World #2 Supp’r & Leco Salazar-Winner of the Brazil event and the best Stand up paddler I have seen to date.
Oh well that’s the way it goes.. You can only do your best and hope for the best..
I watch a couple of heats and the conditions look super fun, clean and rippable..ok, Game one, we can do this.
10 minutes before my heat goes in the wind switches and goes onshore and everything within minutes, goes to sh&^%T!
I head in for my heat, amped none the less…as the tide turns the waves go flat, I wait for a couple bombs, as wave choice is key, but no sets come, not one came in our heat.
I get three or four smaller ones in the last ten minutes of the heat and that was it, I end up narrowly missing 2nd by 0.5 and so it goes,competitive surfing, one bad heat and you’re done! Top two go through..
Moral of the story..Hmmm tough one this time round, is there one?
Sometimes things are not within your control and sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. Call it luck, fate, what ever you want, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. At the end of the day you can be the best surfer in the world, but if you don’t get the right waves you not going to get through…
I was bummed, but I couldn’t be for long..I’ve had such great results this year in a numerous events, it’s sunny, the water’s warm, I’m surfing in boardies and I’m in Hawaii, what can I really bummed about..What! haha.
I put my head back on my shoulders and end up watching most definitely the best stand up paddle surfing I have ever seen, as Leco Salazar and Kai Lenny, put on a show second to none..Kai, with his super consistent repertoire of full rail turns mixed with fluid board and paddle control beyond his years and the new hot and charging Leco Salazar, displaying surfing, so quick, smooth, fluid, lightning fast, explosive & aggressive, I had to wonder wether I was watching surfing or SUPP’ing.
Leco was impossible to compare to anyone, including Kai, a new breed of Stand up paddle boarder, just exploding onto the scene.
This athlete will blow minds and show the world that Stand up Paddle boarding is not to be sneered at, but only admired and respected, because his surfing how ever you want to look at it, whether it be from a surfers point of view, or a Sup perspective, his surfing is, fast, loose & red hot!
The future has arrived and it’s really incredible to watch it unfold..between Kai Lenny, who ended up taking the finals,with super good,full rail & innovative progressive surfing, Leco just couldn’t find the waves to demonstrate his skills in the final & 18 year old Kai Lenny makes history by achieving a milestone in his own career today, but also for the sport of Stand Up Paddle surfing, as he not only won the Hawaii Island Finals, but also the World Title, with a dominant performance across all 5 events in 2010.
Despite great performances from his arch rival of the year, Peyo Lizarazu, Antoine Delpero, (who he had already shared 3 Finals with) and Leco Salazar, the Brazilian phenom that joined the Tour in Brazil with a win, Kai kept his cool and rose above the odds to win the event and the Title in an emotional close to the 2010 Stand Up World Tour.
Congrats Kai, consistent & all round great performer, great kid and a huge future..
This is Chris checking out from Hilo-The Big Island-Aloha