Reef Hawaiian Pro

A while back I won a gift certificate for a camera lens rental shop and I promised myself that I would rent a crazy telephoto and hit a surf competition. Problem is, surf competitions run the best few days out of a range, so it’s hard to book a lens in advance because you can’t be certain that the surf will cooperate. Last night I caught a lucky break: the Reef Hawaiian Pro portion of the Vans Triple Crown announced that the surfers would be competing today, which left enough time for me to reserve the lens online.

It was a crazy morning. Maggie and I left at 8, which is an hour before we’re usually up (I know, but she goes to bed late so we sleep in) and booked it down to east Honolulu, got the lens, and then hauled back up to the North Shore. We got to Ali’i around 10:30 and parking wasn’t the nightmare scenario I had expected, thank god, so we were settled on the sand around 11am.

Shooting with a Canon 100-400mm L-series lens is intense. It is seriously as long as my forearm and twice as thick. (Okay, maybe 1.5 times as thick. I’m kinda beefy.) Maggie busied herself with the lens cap and her favorite cooking utensils–she finds the slotted spoon fascinating–and I set about photographing.

Dudes. This was SO WORTH the trip to Honolulu, having to haul the stroller over sand by myself, and drinking the promotional RockStar energy drink because it was free. If anyone is curious, it tasted like Yellow #5, citrus, and despair. I was there for three hours but only photographed about half that time. The rest of it was spent feeding, bouncing, and playing with Maggie. She was as good as could be.

If you have a chance to see a pro surf competition, do it.

Actually, you should always do things you haven’t done before, provided they’ll make “Hey that was awesome!” stories and not “Hey we need to call the paramedics!” stories. Unless you can combine the two. Anyway.

These folks are serious athletes–they work with and against thousands of tons of water, cover huge distances and stay up under incredible wave pressure. It’s one of the coolest and best things I’ve seen since I got here. The Banzai Pipeline is the really famous one, but given the parking situation and how much baby stuff and gear I had I’m glad I chose to shoot Reef. There were more parking spots, more grass on which to push the stroller and some shaded picnic tables for us to hang out during the hot mid-day, and some semblance of a safe sidewalk–hard to find up at Sunset. When Tom can come with me we’ll do Banzai, but for just me and the baby Ali’i was a lot easier.

I mean really–that’s just NEAT.