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|All the way from New York, ladies and gentlemen, Will Skudin.|
It's 3:30am Friday morning. I'm mad at my alarm clock once more for awakening me after only a couple hours sleep. The lack of shut-eye is beginning to take its toll and I quickly debate going back to bed after consulting with the buoys and tide charts that reaffirm the conditions will not be optimal at first light. We opt to make the three-hour drive instead and hope for a cat nap on arrival in Ensenada. As rose-colored light peaks over the mountains, we are rounding the bend atop the northern rim of Bahia Ensenada and have our first view of Isla De Todos Santos. It is glassy and lines stretch to the horizon. Jamie and I laugh, partly from exhaustion but mostly because we know it's going to be one of the best days at Killers in a few years.
Jamie and I are late arrivals in the lineup as it is already packed with pangas, skis and at least 30 people all wanting a piece of the first real swell of winter. Big and glassy, Killers is normally threatened by south winds, but it looks like the high pressure is on our side today. It is 12 to 15 feet and bluebird. By midday, a 25-foot wave will be ridden by Jamie, and although a touch inconsistent, throughout the day there are multiple rides that leave the channel crowd cheering for more.
From veteran mainstays like Gary Linden to stalwarts like Rusty Long and Derek Dunfee and younger pros like the Gudauskas brothers and Dylan Graves, everyone was getting waves and charging. Although the swell may not have been as intense as it was in Hawaii, it was still providing an epic display of beauty and power. With each passing hour, it became apparent the wind was not going to pick up and conditions would be perfect all day. As the tide dropped and the swell filled in, the sets and size began to increase.
"There was so much talk around Mav's being good on Friday so when we decided to walk away from that to chase unknown, it was incredible to be rewarded with bluebird conditions, a great crowd and 20-footsurf all day," say Jamie. "It is one of the best big wave days I have had in my life."
It's has only been four days since I began the mission of chasing a singular swell across the North Pacific. And if you're just joining me now, we started at Jaws, then Maverick's and finally to Todos Santos in under 72 hours. In numerical terms, that's 5,300 miles on the plane, eight hours by car, 34 hours on a ski, 23 energy bars and hundreds of great surfers and people who have helped make the journey a reality. Being able to document one of the most historical paddle sessions in history and see those same waves ridden at Todos two days later is a surreal experience.
As a fog bank encircled the Isla in the late afternoon hours, we packed up the skis and began our final leg of the journey, the nine-mile crossing back to the Corral. Huge smiles and Tecates were passed around the pangas. As we made our way through the fog with the help of the GPS, Jamie and I could see an enormous pod of dolphins off in the distance. They were showing off, doing aerials and obviously enjoying themselves as much as we had over the past few days. Small groups would swim right up to us, give a wink and ride just under the bow before being replaced by an equally active group seconds later. This continued for a few minutes and Jamie and I were laughing like little kids as they gave us an up close look as their amazing aquatics. This experience alone would have made the entire journey complete, but it was just the icing on an otherwise incredible big wave experience.