Tell me your stories about wave priorities, localism, and hierarchies

by Graham


I want to hear YOUR stories! Share in the comments.

Yesterday, a Colombian man yelled threats at me at Hookipa– my home beach. The only reason: We have different understandings about who has priority on a wave. My understanding is one formed by Hawaiian surf culture. I tried talking with him, but he only wanted to shout, so I unfortunately don’t know where his understanding comes from. (To be perfectly frank, I don’t understand the threats either. Do I need to look out for car bombs? Have I accidentally placed myself in the path of a Colombian drug gang?). No punches were thrown; at least some civility prevailed.

This experience was extremely unsettling for me. Not unsettling because it happened but because it happened somewhere that is a home for me. I’ve come to Hookipa since I was born. I am filled with a comforting wave of familiarity and happiness when I see the rocks, sand, and people there. Shouts and threats from a Colombian break all that.

“Rules” on the water rely on a foundation of mutual understanding from the members of the surf community at a beach. Therefore, the rules change depending on the beach. I don’t expect to know the priorities at a beach in Australia.

And the rules change over time. At Hookipa in the late 80s and early 90s for example, if you weren’t one of the one of the original crew or from Hawaii or really really good, you basically couldn’t sail there. I’ve heard stories from the early 90s of certain famous Hawaiian pro windsurfers beating up other pro sailors, who weren’t from Hawaii, in the shorebreak. The offense? Sailing at Hookipa.

Now days, the pecking order is much more welcoming. Not only are other pros welcome but tourists are welcome too.

My interest today, however, is much larger than the tiny topic that is Hookipa priorities. I want to hear YOUR stories. What are the rules on your waves? Are there fights? Tell me stories about the fights. What is the most outrageous thing you’ve seen or heard of that has happened because of a conflict about waves?

At some point soon, I will write an expose on the topic. But first! I can’t wait to hear your stories.