Windsurfing days don’t get much better than this; Levi Siver recounts a once in a lifetime session at Backyards, on the North Shore of Oahu, which he recently shared with Brawzinho, Jason Polakow, Rush Randle and more big names from windsurfing past and present.
Words by Levi Siver.
“Winter is here which means rainy mornings, bigger waves and less crowds. We’ve been under a relentless trade wind pattern for months now. Too many good Ho’okipa sessions to count, but I need a change a new challenge a new thrill to keep this dream alive.
When you windsurf for a job you need to keep things fresh and new. It’s part of why we ride, to get better and have new experiences. I was looking at the forecast on my iPhone at a Paia cafe that morning and sitting right next to me sipping his latte was Kai Katchadourian. Anyone who doesn’t know Kai should know a few things right off the start. The guy has been a pro rider for the best part of two decades and he loves heavy metal. He can play the drums at a pro level and is known as the Yoda of forecasting. When you hear “surgical strike” come from his mouth you know things are lining up. I show him the weeks forecast on my Iphone and there’s no doubt Backyards is gonna fire. Yes this is it and I’m not gonna miss it this time.
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Everyone knows that scoring good conditions alone is no fun, you gotta have a few friends to share it with. I had JP’s segment in TWM ingrained in my mind of big hollow waves and crazy clean walls to carve on. I had to give Brawzinho a call we’ve been sailing a lot together and I really connect with the guy. His style and crazy tricks get me fired up to rip harder.
JP’s in as well; we can’t go to Yards without him, he lives for this. It was a 1990’s reunion when we arrived on the North Shore of Oahu.
Rush Randle comes riding up on his bike with a small trailer attached carrying windsurf gear. Scott Carvill pulls up with his kids and wife. What made me really smile though was seeing Tristan Boxford absolutely charging boneyards on borrowed gear. He launched a 20 foot air into the sunset and almost managed to re-enter on the shallowest sketchiest section I’ve seen.
Before the big day Brawzinho and I sneaked in a session to familiarize ourselves with the break. I was really thankful for that because we were tripping out how gnarly the next day was.
Light offshore winds 20 foot surf crashing down on waist deep water. The waves were breaking at the second reef almost a mile out. If you went down at the boneyard section you would get washed into the lineup at sunset with no wind. The locals were concerned with us exposing their spot and we said no one in their right mind is gonna wanna come here and ride this.
It felt like windsurfing pipeline and being tempted to hit lips that were pretty much unmake-able. The session lit up and everyone started charging.
Picking the right wave was the name of the game out there. If you get stuck inside in fin deep water you gotta either Austin Powers it back and forth up wind until you get in the channel or there’s the famous walk of shame. I finally got myself in a situation I was trying to avoid. My best ride took me way low at boneyards and I kicked out and the whole horizon was filled with massive sets. I’m slogging in 10 knot winds and I remember saying to myself “well my sessions done now.” JP was there of course he’s always inside on big days. He does that at Jaws and it trips me out. Being inside when it’s big with no wind is the worst situation you can be in in windsurfing. I ask Jason if he had any grand ideas. Going against all reason JP yells to me “Mate just park it right here”. That’s like sitting in lawn chair sipping a beer and a tornado’s heading straight your direction and your buddies telling you to just chill?
What I didn’t know at the time is that Backyards has a little sanctuary right in the middle of all the chaos. In between the two reefs there’s a spot where the second reef needs to reform before it hits the inside giving you just enough time to sail over it.
After the session was over we all pile into Scotty’s truck and head to a famous restaurant on the north shore.
Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds were there at the bar probably doing the same thing we were. Celebrating a great day with good friends and good food wondering what we ever did to deserve this life.”