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A Child’s Dream to Surf Pipeline | Part One

Story by Nicholas Mohnacky

I remember landing at the Honolulu airport like it was yesterday. We flew in from Seattle Washington, after having stayed with my Grandma for Christmas. The military relocated our family to Hawaii when I was in third grade. By the time we arrived it was night time, hot and humid, a lot like Florida, where I was born. I was elated and equally enamored with the culture, having received a lei after departing the plane. It was the first airport I had ever been to that was open air and without A/C.

Learning to Surf

I first stood up on a surfboard when I was 5 years old in Cocoa Beach, Florida while riding tandem with a family friend. From that moment on surfing became my obsession, it was all I ever wanted to do. Our family ended up living in Kaneohe, HI on the Windward side of Oahu. There were two well known surf breaks on the base, North Beach and Pyramid Rock. Both were pretty advanced spots for a kid.

Massive swells come from the north and travel through extraordinarily deep water and explode with unparalleled energy on the reefs near the Island’s shores causing death defying waves to break. Because Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific waves flow uninterrupted. It’s no wonder Hawaii is the mecca for surfers.

Humbled in Hawaii

Growing up I quickly figured out just how dangerous the waters were. I was cautioned and humbled in its presence. Any kid learning how to surf out there typically had a mentor; unfortunately, I didn’t really have one. Most of my friends body boarded so I naturally took that up because it was a bit safer and easier. The funny thing is, even though we were out there in the lineup riding waves, bodyboarding was always inferior to the “real thing”, surfing.

Surfing is wildly difficult to get good at. I remember progressing through elementary and middle school to the point that I could stand up and finally go down the line. It was my dream as a child to one day surf the North Shore, specifically the Banzai Pipeline.

Coming Full Circle

Our family moved to Garden Grove, CA before I got good enough to surf Oahu’s famed North Shore. The dream never left me though, my time in the water at Huntington Beach brought me to understand the “surf industry”. I didn’t know it at the time but I was on a path that would bring me back to Hawaii with a better understanding of its significance and allow me to fulfill my dream of surfing Pipeline.

hawaii-northshore

 

The winter of 2014, I set out to make that dream come true. Part two coming soon…

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