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The Hawaiians Call It Hopupu



To ride a board is to be animated by the force that feeds the wind, to be attuned, engaged, yet detached...

This article appeared in our June 2003 issue. When moving into the tube — the pipe-shaped tunnel that forms as the crest of the wave falls over the barrel — no external thought can break in and distract the surfer without causing a fall, or atleast a swerve. Extreme focus and concentration are especially important when there is a layer of coral beneath the wave. In certain places, only a few inches of water lie between the surfer’s board and the razor-sharp ridges of the coral below. At Pipeline beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, for example, the bottom is strewn with large beds of coral, which create caves that can catch you or cut you to shreds — incentive enough to clear the mind before being seduced by a smooth and powerful pipeline tube that diffuses the light beautifully. This process, this path of surfing, presents similarities with the paths of all people who have sought meaning and found their essence, whether through surfing, Zen meditation, or studying the Tao. Dominique Godreche, a journalist writing in the Paris review Psychologies, expresses this idea well: “For th …

Adapted from Dancing the Wave, ©2003 by Jean-Etienne Poirier. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston,

Jean-Etienne Poirier is an avid surfer, skier, skateboarder, and journalist. When not surfing, he lives in Quebec.

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