- AUTHOR: MAX HOUTZAGER
- PHOTOS: Rob Schanz, Amado Stachenfeld, Max Houtzager
- VIDEO: Amado Stachenfeld
- LOCATION: Hakuba, Japan and Northern California
e did not have the flexibility to wait for a storm and book the trip to match it. We just hoped that a few nights in Hakuba for snow and just under a week in California would be enough for some kind of low pressure to grace us with fresh snow and clean surf.
I didn’t think much of this aspect of our trip. In Hakuba it rained on the first day and was supposed to sprinkle just a few inches the next.
We found ourselves with 2 feet of fresh powder that was easily waist deep in some areas Tsugaiike’s forests. The Outflow crew guided us to these areas. The day after that we were planning to meet the honshuu based Gentem crew at Happo Banks. Sunshine…
The window we had in California was late March, which was pushing it in terms of receiving proper NW winter swell with no southerly spring winds beginning to hinder any chances of good surf. M03 brought a gun and a 7’6. He was hungry for a powerful Californian tube that he has been dreaming about for years.
It was only the final session in California, after traveling together in Japan, when I witnessed the moment where I am certain he gained 100% conviction on a perspective he had been exploring for a long time.After checking several spots between Sf and Santa Cruz we finally found a point that might give M03 the tube he was looking for. It was going off. But at the same time some of the meanest local pros paddled out. We watched for an hour. Not a single wave unridden. A lot of turns and beautiful rides but not epic barrels. Finally m03 said he was ready.
He paddled from the south, through the waves and against the current in order to ease his way into the crowd. Once further out a wave came to him immediately. He dropped in perfectly and pulled into the biggest barrel we’d seen that day. All 3 of us, rob, amado, and myself, were in awe.
He did it, and felt something that none of us would understand until reflecting on the entire trip, from japan to california, later on. M03 had learned that aligning your will with the flow of the universe is about ichi, being one and your physical place in time.
Special thanks to Zachary Ostroff for the score and Streamer Coffee Company.