"Toby! What are the odds of us making it back to the house through this riot!?” They weighed their options. The choices were far from clear as to what the correct decision was. They were on the wrong side of the bridge. With political unrest overtaking the region, the locals––unhappy with a recently “rigged” government election––decided to show their remorse towards the corrupt system by barricading a bridge on the only road around the island. Parking a 2-ton dump truck loaded with massive boulders sideways on the bridge, they blocked all access then slashed the tires to demobilize the vehicle. Alongside the massive dump truck were tire fires billowing black smoke that could be seen from miles away and angry locals lining the bridge spewing sweat and rage. We were screwed.
They had their reasons, of course. Perhaps they felt their voices weren’t being heard out in the middle of the Pacific. In a sense, it’s evidence of this ancient culture trying to find its way in a modern world––a conflict between wanting to hold on to their monolithic past yet trying to stay relevant in today’s world. Or simply a sign of the times… globally.
A few weeks prior to this chaos, the guys had finalized the team for this trip. A new crew for a new year. Noa Mizuno from South Shore Oahu, the crook-knee goofy footer with versatility to rip any condition with fluid style and no thought of hesitation in the big stuff. Derrick Disney from Cardiff, part of North County’s resurgence of the shape everything / ride anything movement. Cam Richards of Myrtle Beach, Vissla’s other goofy-footed fellow that not only knows how to position himself deep in tubes but has magic tricks above the lip that make it seem he has no regard for his well-being. And, lastly, Toby Mossop from Burleigh Heads. The Australian that spends more time in the barrel than the ocean itself.
The group of them found some waves… a little different than the forecast had predicted, but some fun ones indeed. They’d paddle out for a few sessions at the point out front or take a quick drive to a ripping right reminiscent of an extremely shred-able Keramas (minus the crowds). With the unbearable mid-day sun and little to no refuge from the 90+ degree water, they had to pick and choose their sessions.
The fella they were lodging with was an absolute legend. One of the only people to watch the tsunami arrive to the shore in front of his house, only to survive by punching holes in the thatched roof and holding on for dear life six feet under water. His tale was devastating, and he fought back tears as he transcribed the chilling tale of that dreadful night.
Through his broken, cracked English he told the guys a tale of a wave he’d laid eyes on the day prior. His appearance didn’t give off the notion of someone who had spent much time in the water, so they half listened, though fully intrigued. Upon weighing their options and with nothing to lose, they opted to hop in his boat to check out this storybook monster of a wave he’d described.
Passing by the point out front and seeing some head high lines, they wondered if they were making all this effort just to see more of the same. As time passed, the large panga boat began struggling to get over the crest of some of the swells… “Is this dude for real?” Then, there it was. The dark color lining the horizon unveiled into a top to bottom, pristine, crystal clear double overhead barrel just seconds later. Not a drop of water out of place and spitting onto the craggy, sharp-as-tacks reef inside. With no one for miles.
The boys could hardly contain themselves. In a calm, hurriedly-contained manor they prepared. Sunscreen, wax, leashes and they were off. Not one of them had ever been in this situation. A perfect wave, astonishingly clear blue water and no one in sight. Perfection.
They took turns paddling into bombs and cheered as each one got spat out of the barrel, one after another. They seemed to have tapped out every ounce of energy the ocean had to offer when the waves dissipated to nothing after a couple of hours. Smiling from ear to ear, they paddled back to the boat trying to wrap their heads around what just happened. A day they will never forget.
Needless to say, the group made it through the barricade unscathed. They were led across the bridge by their guide and savior then found transport home in the back of a farmer’s truck alongside some livestock. Hours later they heard the military come in with bull dozers to clear the area with force. The next day there wasn’t much evidence left of what they had witnessed and no news of the incident anywhere outside of the island. As if it never happened.