Something from Adam ‘Wipeout’ James’ Full Day Olympic Peninsula Sessions


I wanted to work on other things last Sunday, but the tides, wind, and the swell size and direction seemed to suggest the waves might be breaking on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. So, waking at 5:30, I was a little reluctant to text Adam, with whom I’d been in some cellular discussion, about hitting it. Not that fond of surfing weekends, it’s not my fault that sometimes that is when the occasional swell decides to show up.

So, we met up, decided, because Adam had no racks on his family/surf mini-van, and therefore couldn’t handle my big ass board, that we would continue on in my pretty-much-thrashed-out former work/surf van, semi-retired with 240,000 plus miles and something with the (automatic) transmission that causes it to (as Adam described it, worrying we wouldn’t make it there, and then, back) ‘act kind of like when you have a fish on the line.’ Yeah, kind of hesitant to charge up hills.

Still, we did make it to a dropping tide and one surfer out, Big Dave, big enough to ride an SUP like a longboard (without the paddle). Dave was a 15 year old gremmie when I, at 20, moved to Pacific Beach, and rescued my board the last time I surfed this spot. Thanks, Dave. By the time I got out, there were four or five surfers in the water, including the always-slightly-more-stoked-than-I-am Adam Wipeout. And that’s not easy for someone over, say, 12.

Once in the water, I commented to Dave, who was so-casually ‘owning’ the waves (Adam’s description), that he was standing up on every wave. Already out over an hour, alone, he said when he got tired he’d do a bit more kneeboarding. After I took off from my knees on my first wave, then, admittedly, shakily, stood up, Dave, paddling out at the time, commented that I “kind of stood up like a crippled-up old man.”

“Yeah. No; hey; let me warm up.” So, I did endeavor to catch more waves from the standing position, did a couple of the ‘fall off the back’ moves, at least one ‘fall forward in a potential face plant’ maneuvers, and decided I’d rather kneeboard or look shaky standing up than miss a good wave.

Somewhere in the session, with the swell dropping and the rights never showing up, I let Adam use my board. He, of course, was stoked. After he caught three inside waves from the standing position, and I was flopping around on his under-waxed 8’6″ Simmons twin fin tribute board, I took my board back.

Though SUPers can rightfully be accused of taking too many set waves, I have decided I also catch a great many inside waves surfers on regular, or even long boards, cannot. And, so many times, I would have been skunked if I didn’t have the board I traded work for as a backup.

So, surfed out, and having given him my opinion that no one under sixty should surf an SUP, I dropped Adam off so he could meet up with his family, go to Hurricane Ridge. The photo is of his son, about to catch air. Or so Adam says. It’s not IN the photo. Adam also seems to say the waves in every surf session he’s involved in, are ‘head high, at least,’ and claimed the waves got bigger once I got out of the water. “Adam, it was, like, 15 minutes, and, really, I didn’t see that many waves ridden, and, besides, really?”

I have been lucky to occasionally get to make the drive with good friends, and to see other surfers I’ve surfed with over the years, or even just met, in the water. Because of this, and the thrill of cranking into a solid wave face, looking down a long line, I remain, perpetually, stoked. In a ‘frothing’ competition, Adam… well, he’s in there.

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