Yes, I admit it: I have a fetish for flying the north shore. Any day that is even slightly northwest gets me very excited. I don’t know if it’s the big waves, the small bikinis, or the just the smell of safety, but I love it out there. I have probably flown out there a dozen times in my fifteen years, and I’ve had every kind of flight: sledders, parking lots, thermic XC days, rock and roll rodeos, and everything in between.
Yesterday was the best kind: a thermic XC day. Visitor Matt Henzi and I thermaled our way from Kahuku downrange past Sunset and Pupukea, across Waimea Bay and back, landing at Three Tables. Those thermals were smoking.
The day before, the forecast and the sensors looked great for the north shore, and I hiked up all by myself, leaving my trusty wingmen standing around on the street like wallflowers. But it wasn’t quite there. It was too west and too strong. I waited up on launch for a couple of lonely hours, and when I saw a dude launching his kite board I finally hiked down.
But yesterday was a different story. The forecast was much more promising. However, I had to finish some important work first. Meanwhile, Oregon visitors Matt and George followed Thom’s perfect directions up the hill, and Matt launched before any of us locals got there.
Don and I scrambled up the hill next, followed by Thom, who couldn’t even follow his own directions, and got lost way back behind the launch ridge. Finally he emerged from the woods, stomping and cursing like Rumpelstiltskin.
On his first attempt, George had a lineover or cravat, but he saved himself by landing in a tall ironwood. And he managed the extraction like a northwestern tree landing professional. But his next attempt was no more exemplary: a parachutal slide down the face of the launch.
Finally everyone got airborne: me, George, Don, Matt and Thom. Matt showed me how deep and high the thermals were drifting. I doubt I would have figured that out otherwise! So I dug in deep and followed those suckers back and up, and slowly made my way downrange towards Waimea. Matt followed me, and by the time he joined me out there it was getting light. We landed at the beer store for the sake of thirst quenching convenience. God bless Pupukea Foodland.
Later on, Drew launched, and managed an epic low save, before following Don to the beach. Thom had the beach but didn’t like how wet it looked, so he turned back for the sheep pasture. Harvey flew later and also headed for the sheep pasture. I know this article is about perversion, but let’s not think about Thom and Harvey and the sheep. Skydiver Bence launched last in his Zero and got zero lift, landing in the empty cow pasture.
Thanks to Thom for the retrieve. Thanks to Drew for the emergency backup beverages.