How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 17

North Swells

They're better.

On west swells, it bowls harder, makes for a more compressed A-frame, and comes over more violently, outside, but once the initial lunge and detonation is over, you immediately start paying back for that astounding initial energy release right at the beginning of things.

On north swells, things start off softer on the outside (which may not be such a bad thing, really, every once in a while), but then they tend to ramp up as you go along, and finish with a thunderous "BANG" across and through the inside section.

West swells are all about the peak, all about the drop, and that's just about it.

Now mind you, a giant west peak way the hell outside at Sunset Beach is no trivial thing, ok? That west peak goes off like a goddamned atomic bomb, and taking that drop, sketchy-late, half fluttering down the face against the gale, connecting cleanly farther down, and then drawing the best bottom turn you'll ever get in your life..... well..... that's some pretty good shit, right there my friend.

I aim to take nothing whatsoever away from that kind of thing by talking about north swells, ok? Not one little thing.

But once you're cleanly down and around, west swells just sort of fizzle out after they initially break, and even if you can milk it through the dead spot all the way to the inside section (now stop right here, and imagine if you will, the business of "milking" a triple-overhead wave, maybe even bigger, who knows, and consider the multiple absurdities implicit within those innocent-sounding words), once things start winding back up in there, you find yourself more or less completely separated from that makeable end of things over toward the far reaches of the inside section where you might stand at least some kind of half-assed chance of making the thing, all the way through.

And the west angle also makes the inside section kinda sectiony and wonky, too. It tends to lose all of its run and follow-through, and the bigger it gets, the more that happens.

Despite the fact that there will be a substantial crowd of people in there taking off on it, the inside section at Sunset Beach doesn't have much of any proper substance to offer, on a west swell. Except maybe for the sole "benefit" of allowing those who sit over there and catch 'em to completely avoid any direct hand-to-hand combat with the outside peak, and since we're not here to be avoiding things, that kinda takes the shine right off of that, too.

So ok. So west swells are all about the drop and the initial bottom turn, and that's about it.

So what's the deal with north swells, then?

Glad you asked.

To start out with, they're wallier. They cover a wider expanse of ocean.

Even when it's still well outside of you, warping in at you from way the hell on out there, the whole visual appearance on north swells is different, and it's different in a better way.

Or at least it is to me, anyway.

To me, the sight of an extended length of deep blue water standing up, bending around, gathering itself together, coming my way, has a much greater appeal than does a highly-compressed peak with short stumpy shoulders on it.

Now that I think of it, this probably explains my inherent dislike for the whole Pipeline thing. It's just never appealed to me. And I'm sure the people riding over there appreciated my lack of attendance in the lineup at Pipe, and I certainly appreciated their lack of attendance in the lineup at Sunset, so I guess it all works out for the best, in the end.

But the sight of that long long wall, arching upward, getting ready to come over, with an endless wing off to the right, that I knew was going to end in something ferociously delicious screaming along at high speed within that freight-training cavern across the inside section..... well..... that shit's just irresistible. I cannot turn my back on it and go down the road somewhere to a place that simply doesn't have enough room for such a thing to even set up and occur in the first place.

When it's sizable, it wants to cap over way the hell outside, and come growling in and across from the north, way the hell outside of Backyards, and sometimes it will cap over a lot closer to you than you'd like, and sometimes it will back off, and sometimes it won't and you find yourself playing a little cat and mouse game with it, and who, exactly, is the cat, and who, exactly, is the mouse, and who's pursuing who out here anyway?

So it's Big Adrenaline Fun even before it gets to you.

The anticipation is indescribable as you crest each preceding wave, getting a good, but quick, look at what's developing out there, working the angles, working the distances, maneuvering, positioning, aiming, hoping, that you're getting it right.

The wall bends around and stands up and okey doke, here we go.

And, as I said, it starts out kind of soft.

Or at least insofar as a twenty-foot plus wall of fully-armed and operational water at Sunset Beach can ever be considered soft.


Sometimes it refuses to play by the rules and it pitches hard and comes over with a bang, anyway.

But a lot of times on north swells it gives you a sporting chance, right from the beginning.

It lets you build up some down-the-line speed as it moves from the outside into the middle part.

And on really nice clean solid norths, that middle part is no longer a "dead zone."

It will start peeling, and it will peel top-to-bottom, and it will just keep on doing it for a surprising distance, at surprising speed.

You find yourself really moving right along out there on that nice steep wall that just keeps on extending on and on and on, way the hell out there in front of you.

And once that part is done with, well then, you not only get the inside section, but you get the inside section at its best.

Less warble, more definition. Less pinch and collapse, more throat and funnel. Square-bottom, thick-lip, truly exquisite stuff. So long as it doesn't get you.

It's not, after all, just going to give itself away to you.

You're going to have to earn it, the old-fashioned way.

Nobody bullshits their way through the inside section on a large north swell at Sunset Beach.

It holds you accountable.

Which I do dearly love.

So yeah, north swells are better at Sunset Beach.