It was one week ago tonight. August 18th, 2019 when we had the Surfer's Paddle for Curtis T. McGadden. It was in a word "Amazing." Now for all intents and purposes, I have done dozens of these "Surfer's Paddles" starting with the very first one I ever did. The summer of 1978. It was for my then best friend. Joseph "Joe" Somogyi. I've done literally dozens ever since. So I know of which I speak. This paddle? It was special.
And I'll explain it to you the best I can.
I got down to the beach at around 3:30PM. The McGadden family were already between 18th Street and the Bathhouse. Because we were to be using two large canoes to transport the family, we were looking at Plaice Cove as our launch sight.
But once I saw that the McGadden's had established a beach front location complete with tables, posters, and Curtis's surfboards, we immediately went into Option Number two.
Which was basically to stay put and move the canoes to this other location. No problem, we had the muscle to carry the canoes down to the beach and then launch them near the rock cropping, and bring them directly onto the beach where the family was set up.
It was a warm and beautiful afternoon, and meeting the family was so nice.
This is a great photo of Curtis that his sisters found on Amazon.
They told me that one of them had googled "Hot Surfers" and this image popped up. It's a great photo of Curtis surfing down in Costa Rica. I was blown away by the photo. Apparently Curtis had no idea the photo existed. Had he known, I am quite certain he would have sent it to me to be posted on the Blog. Well, it's on the Blog now Curtis. Thanks to your sisters.
It was obvious to me where Curtis got his kindness and soft spoken qualities. They were all wonderful. Meeting his friends and family as well as his girlfriend was setting the tone for what would turn out to be one of the most memorable paddles I've ever had the pleasure of being part of. We got started at around 5:00PM after waiting long enough for any stragglers to find us and join in.
I started things off as I typically do by welcoming everyone, having a quick moment of silence, and then going into the brief history of the paddle. As well as talking about why Surfing is so special. I shared the enlightening theory of how as surfers we are able to catch a wave at the end of it's existence after traveling for hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to reach the shore. And how special it is for surfers to share that one final, glorious moment, with that living liquid matter. The wave. I told the crowd that most surfers don't stop to think about that. But that Curtis
"got it". He really understood.
He was in full agreement of what we do. And how special it is.
After I spoke Curtis's father Chris stood up and spoke about his son. Most of us can only imagine what that raw grief feels like. To lose a son. To lose any member of our family. I know what cancer can do. I've lost family members and close friends to cancer. So I understand only too well. Standing there off to the side and watching Chris speak of Curtis I could only admire his strength and compassion for his son and his family. He spoke from the heart, and it was hard not to well up with emotion as he spoke.
I had only just met him an hour prior to his speaking, but I was so proud of him.
It's not easy speaking in public like that. Especially speaking of
losing a loved one. I am gifted in that I am able to do this time after time. I told Chris before the beach service how as Commander of our local Veteran's post I've had to look into the eyes of mothers and fathers who've lost a son. Sisters and wives and children. Aunts and uncles and close relatives. So I am familiar with that scenario. And it's never easy. But I knew and know, what it means to the families. So I would do it. Year after year. For 13 years.
My current role as the elder surfer who commands these precious "Surfer's Paddles comes with experience that I did not seek. But I've accepted my role in the surf community because I know how important it is for the families.
After Chris spoke, a few more individuals said some words. I'm sorry that I can't recall just who spoke after Chris, but I do know that they
were sincere and poignant with their speeches. It was getting hot on the beach. When we finally let everyone who was going to speak say their peace, it was time.
We all gathered a flower, and our board's and commenced to paddling out.
Once we established a safe distance from shore and the breaking waves, we started to form a large circle. That's when I saw it. A White Rainbow.
I remember calling out to everyone to look. It was something out of a book or a movie. In the 55 years that I've been surfing I had never ever seen anything quite like it. A White Rainbow. If I were alone that afternoon and tried to tell you about this, I would expect some murmuring and disbelief. But I was not alone. Everyone out there saw it. And everyone on the beach saw it.
These are actual photos of this rare occurrence.
Robin Smith took this photo from the beach. You can just make out the
surfers and the canoes out in the ocean.
Even now, a week later, I am stunned by it. I told people after the paddle that I had never seen a regular Rainbow during a paddle, let alone a rare White Rainbow. If people were looking for signs? Well, this was as big as a sign as one could ask for. It was proof of God. It was proof that somehow Curtis was reaching out to us. He was present. And out on the horizon was a thickening fog. And it was slowly making it's way towards us all.
Chris held up the ashes of Curtis as he spoke. I remember taking photos and video with my back to the shoreline
and shooting out to sea. I tried not to shake while I was shooting. I'm not going to lie to you. It was intense. He finished his emotional speech and then dumped the ashes of his son into the ocean. Curtis was home again.
Everyone took turns speaking. And then after we all spoke, I counted to three and we all tossed our flowers into the middle of the circle as we hooted as loud as we could. Those on the shore did the same. I cried, as this whole scene unfolded with all of us as witnesses. Then the fog rolled in and covered the entire beach. We couldn't see the beach from out there. It was surreal.
By the time we all gathered back on the beach, the fog had lifted.
Not sure how long I hung around. Maybe another half hour. I felt at ease with the McGadden family and friends. By the time I went home I knew that I would never be the same again. After witnessing that? How could I? How could any of us? Well, long story short, the very next day, I wrote a song about the whole experience and called it...you guessed it. WHITE RAINBOW. I used the stills and the video I shot and made a web edit. It's down in the video section. Watch it and listen to it. It's all based on the truth.
Curtis T. McGadden will never be forgotten, and neither will that beautiful White Rainbow, and the fog that happened that night. Rest In Peace Curtis.
We will all meet again. In the land of The White Rainbow.
Saturday August 24th, 2019 Kainalu Nichols turned 20 years old.
That is another mind blowing reality. When did that loud little grom grow up to be this tall mature young-man who also just so happens to be one of the best surfers I have ever seen. And trust me, I've seen my share of good to great surfers. And I'm not just talking about the local scene. But if I was? I can say without question, that Kainalu Nichols is the fastest surfer we have in Northern New England. I know this because I watch everyone surf week after week.
Swell after swell. I know who's hot and who's not. It's just the truth.
And look, we have plenty of good to great surfers here in Northern New England. But how many of them can lock horns with the best of the best in WSL? There's good on the local level and there's good on the pro circuit.
It's a night and day difference.
Kainalu has a chance to compete in the WSL.
And he will be the first to tell you that it's a long uphill battle. But if you don't try and do your best you'll never know. He's 20 years old. He has his whole life ahead of him. This is the time. If you're gonna go for it, the time is now.
This is Kai at age 10. Look at that wave. John Carden took this photo and I remember the first time I saw it, I realized, that young Kai had turned a corner.
He was legit. This was 10 years ago. Today he's be tearing that wave to pieces. I can go on and on about his surfing. But I took the liberty to make a video this week about his surfing. It's down in the video section. It's kind of long (especially for you Insta nuts.) For those who don't know, the longest video on Instagram is 59 seconds. Just under a minute. And honestly? That's too damn short. Hell, I've had single rides in my videos that were that long.
But then again, I'm old school. I like to watch a surfer from start to finish on any decent wave. But I totally understand the "Insta Snap Chat" in Your face Quick web edits. I do get it. I might not like it, but I get it. So the edit I did for Kai is not a 30 sec flash in the pan video. It's a surf/movie/web edit. Deal with it.
Kainalu with mom Arlene and dad Lenny at his HS graduation.
They've both done a great job raising him along with his three sisters here in Hampton.
They all surfed and they all contributed to the ESA and the NNE (Northern New England) district. This is Lenny's 20th year and he's looking to finally stepping down and handing over the reins to Colin Madden. All of the NNE-ESA kids grew up with the Nichols running the show here the last 20 years. Some of my own fondest memories are with the ESA.
They promote family values and keep it fun for everyone. I admit, I miss those days when all the kids (who are now adults and some with kids of their own) hung out together. Here in NH and ME and then traveling to Jersey or NY for the regionals. And of course the big contest of the summer was always the EASTERNS. Those were great events for the kids.
But Kai took it all to a whole other level. He was on the ALLSTAR team.
And that got him a ticket to Hawaii's infamous North Shore. And the next thing he knew, he was being handled by one of the legendary North Shore Big wave Riders TAMAYO PERRY.
This is Tamayo at Big Pipe.
He took Kainalu out there and talked him over the ledge. (As opposed to talking him off the ledge). Because you have to just go. You can't hedge out there or you'll basically eat shit. Kainalu listened to Tamayo and came back a changed man that winter. I saw it in his eyes. And I really saw it in his surfing.
Thank you Tamayo for taking Kai under your wing and teaching him the
ropes. You've helped shape this young man into the person he is today.
Many Mahalos to you.
Emilia and Tamayo Perry. True Ambassadors of Hawaiian Surfing.
So Happy 20th Birthday Kainalu.
Go out and find yourself in this sea of Surfers and Surfing. Only you hold the key to where you want to go and who you want to be. Surfing is Forever. Look at your father and your "uncles" and your sisters and aunts. We all still surf. It is part of our DNA. And it will be
with us forever. You're a SURFER. And a damn good one at that!
Go out and show the world that "Great Surfers" can and WILL come from
the Northeast. You have our Love and Support.
From the "Loudest Grom" to the "Silent King." Kainalu Nichols.
This FRIDAY! It's our annual HIT THE BEACH event. This is our 12th year and we are looking forward to this day. Volunteers need to be there at 7:00AM SHARP! HIT THE BEACH XII
Friday August 30th, 2019 from 8AM to 2PM.
"Surfing and Love Heals All Wounds."
This is Kainalu Nichols at 11 years old. Ed was well aware that he was worth keeping his lens focused on young Kai. I wish he were still with us, because I'm pretty sure he would be blown away by how good he is today.
Photo by Ed O'Connell
*Click the photo above to see a larger version of Ed's Pic.
Now for Some Local, National and International News
This is a local Surfer who was appointed by the AMERICAN LEGION Post 35 to represent Hampton in the much coveted BOYS STATE. Dan Ciolfi pictured here with his grandmother.
In other local news worthy mentionings...my younger brother Johnny turns 65 today. So I made this collage of our times together so far. Click on this image to see the larger version.
Happy 65th Birthday! Welcome to the 65 Plus Club!
CULL (KILL) THE FRICKING SEALS!! Something MUST Be Done about the Seal Population on the Cape. It's time to cull the Seals. *I came up with I think might be a good solution. Why Not get robotic ORCAS and have them putter around the beaches of the Cape? Great White Sharks are terrified of them. Hell the mechanical shark (Bruce) in JAWS terrified an entire generation. Let's try the motorized ORCA and terrorize the White Sharks!
Now for something pretty freaking cool. Mackey V got to meet Rob Ninkovich the other night at the Patriots Pre-Season game against the Carolina Panthers.
And the ex-Patriot receiver Chris Hogan. Why we let him go is a mystery to me. But whatever.
Max is a huge fan. So I know this was a treat for him.
I've always liked Hogan. He really does look sad.
ESM (Eastern Surf Magazine) using a READY MAG format did the Best of Ralph's Pic. And while they couldn't possibly use everything thing I've ever done, they did manage to put up some 50 pics of mine, plus two videos. And I was truly humbled by their intro. Mez said some nice things about me. CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE THE WHOLE Spread.
Speaking of The Beatles...This show is worth seeing.
COMING FATHER'S DAY 2020.
So while I was making the GRANITE GIRLS video I came up with this project and concept. It's never been done before. As hard as that seems to be. I'm onto yet another groundbreaking Surf Movie concept. This will be an overview of Surfer dads and their sons. It's a work in progress and I'm hoping to get as many dads and their sons as possible in this movie.
Speaking of annual events. This is the 28th Anniversary of SFR.
Most of you longtime readers know that I retired from SFR after 25 years. I handed over the reins to Duffy McCarthy. He has young kids and his friends all have young kids too. I figured 25 years of fighting pirates was enough. I still help out without getting my hands dirty or bloody. Lord knows I've fought enough pirates to fill my quota. If you have young surf groms drop by and get involved. Trust me, your kids will love it.
The DVD's are available at all the local surf shops. Or by
sending me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org or send a check for $20.00 made out to ADLANTIC and send it here:
c/o OC Studio Suites
703 Ocean Blvd Suite C-4
Hampton, NH 03842
Or RENT or BUY it Online. You have spoken and I have listened. You don't have a DVD player so I made it available Online. Watch it on your Smart TV, your computer, or your cellphone! I can't make this any easier my friends.
GRANITE GIRLS and The RIVER WOMEN from Ralph's Pic Of The Week on Vimeo.
NOW AVAILABLE on VIMEO ON DEMAND.
KSM Photoshop of the Week
This week was a busy week for Kim Jong Un. He's been launching missiles left and right all week long. Damn that Krazy Kim. Nobody seems to mind though. And of course our Celebrity Terrorist is all for Kim lobbing missiles at the US. He hopes that one might go askew, and hit GITMO and maybe knock his prison cell down, where he might escape. That is never gonna happen Khaliddy. So have fun with your fantasy photoshop here...cuz this is as close as you're gonna get to freedom. Loser.
And so my friends, please take advantage of this weekly photo shop of the mastermind who planned 9-11 and resulted in the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians by KSM (Khalid Sheik Mohammed).
*Note to self -must pick up a case of Roman Candles
at Home Depot this week.
CONGRATS TO KAINALU NICHOLS Going PRO!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pete Rizzo August 22nd, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Veda Cropper August 23rd, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kainaulu Nichols August 24th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Duke Kahanamoku August 24th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hannah Vokey August 24th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Johnny Fatello August 25th, 2019!
GET WELL SOON Jody Wiles Goucher!
GET WELL SOON Kim Grondin and Lilly too!
Lenny Nichols & Colin Madden
Co-Directors, NNE District
Eastern Surfing Association
Support ALL The photographers who contribute to
Ralph's Pic Of The Week every week for the last 13 years.
** BUY a HIGH RES Photo
from any of the weeks on RPOTW.
my friends... Surfing Heals All Wounds.
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.