Most people know Sunset Beach as an iconic high-performance, big wave surf break where professional surfers from all over the world test their mettle in heavy water. North Shore locals like Rosie Jaffurs know this wave more intimately by its Hawaiian name, Paumalu.
Growing up on the North Shore is unlike anywhere else in Hawai‘i, and “The Country” has a certain way of naturally strengthening their residents that chose to play in this heavy water. Rosie was raised up the mountain at Pupukea, and she's able to take her years of experience on the Seven Mile Miracle and share that knowledge as a surfing instructor. There is nobody better to learn surfing from than a local, and for any new surfer who wants to surf the fabled North Shore, Rosie is one of the best teachers. In addition to being a pro surfer, what makes Rosie such a great instructor is her experience as an athlete. She was a tri-sport athlete at Kahuku High School—competing in soccer, swimming, and water polo. If you're interested in getting a surf lesson on the North Shore from her, DM @RosieJaffurs on Instagram.
Rosie demonstrates her surfing most beautifully on the nose of a log. When she's hanging ten, it’s the epitome of feminine grace, timeless surfing, and pure athleticism wrapped into a single maneuver. When this beautiful, stylish, regular-foot surfer is surfing Paumalu, itʻs totally acceptable to sit in the channel and watch her dance. Currently, she's training to start competing in surf contests again, and we caught up with her while she prepared for the Mexi Log Fest.
Q: How does Paumalu (Sunset Beach) factor into your daily surf check?
A: I use Paumalu as an indicator of what the ocean is doing for the day. If I didn't have Surfline, I would just go to Paumalu, and that would be my surf report. I could tell how big the ocean is that day, what spots are open for me and what board I should use.
Q: What is your earliest memory of Paumalu?
A: My earliest memory at Paumalu is on the beach. It was the gathering spot for the neighborhood kids. We would all gather there, play on the beach, play on the rocks, and play on Slip's, which was a natural slip-and-slide on the rocks into the ocean. On days when there was barely any surf, just flat, and we had nothing to do, we would paddle out there because it was safe. Because as soon as there are waves out there and you're little, it gets pretty scary pretty quickly. So we would only go out there when it was small.
Q: What is the name of the inside of Paumalu called?
A: When I was a kid, they called it Shore's, and now there is controversy because they call it Mother's Beach. I don't know if they call it that because a bunch of moms go down there with their kids since it's safe in that little cove over there, but we just called it Shore's, and all the neighborhood kids would surf this little reform right next to the beach when the waves were huge. I don't really see kids surfing there anymore these days. There is also Val's Reef to the left of Shore's if you're facing the ocean. That spot can be fun as well, but it gets really shallow. The right and left are good.
Q: When you're not a grom anymore, and you make your way out to the Sunset lineup, what are those takeoff spots called?
A: There's the West Bowl, and mostly every spot on the North Shore has a West Bowl. You kind of have to know where it is, and it's not at the main peak. I like the West Bowl and the west swell, so I try to sit there. Then you can go out to The Point and get some nice waves over there, but you cannot go too deep because you'll end up at Boneyards. When you end up at Boneyards, you've gone too deep. It gets really shallow, and there are all these coral heads sticking out everywhere, so you won't be able to make the wave. Once you get inside of Boneyards, you can go left, but if you're outside of it, you'll hit a rockpile and have to just weave thru the rocks and pray you don't rip your fin out.
Q: What is it like to be from O‘ahu's North Shore, a.k.a. the Mecca of Surfing?
A: It was really sweet growing up. I feel like I got the tail-end of [uncrowded North Shore]. I feel like it's overcrowded nowadays, so I got a taste of what it was like before it became overcrowded. To me, that is the most special thing about growing up here. We have some of the best waves in the world, so there's no reason not to be a surfer.
Q: How do you get waves on the North Shore when it's so crowded?
A: It's tricky and interesting. These days, without any etiquette in the lineup, it's really chaotic and dangerous. The way I get waves is, I try to wait my turn, and one eventually comes to me. There is a lot of snaking in the lineup these days, so if someone snakes me one to three times, I'll tell them, “dude, you just went and it's my turn.” Most of the time, they'll just let me go. I try to communicate, and I don't like to put order in the lineup, but I will say things here and there if somebody takes too many—paddling for waves and missing it, then paddling for the nugs. I will say nicely to them that their etiquette is off.
Q: What is a good piece of advice for someone coming to surf the North Shore who wants to practice good etiquette in the lineup?
A: Choose your wave that you're going to paddle for very wisely because once you paddle for a wave and you miss it, you're technically to the back of the line. If you're waiting your turn and you paddle for one, then that's your wave. There is no reason that shouldn't be your wave because you have been sitting there and waiting. Just don't paddle for waves and miss them. Don't paddle for too many waves in general. Let's share the waves. Right?
Q: What do you love about teaching people how to surf?
A: I'm so thankful that I became a surf instructor. It's such a rewarding job, and I love it. It's a workout. I get to put a smile on somebody's face. I get to catch waves while I'm working. The ocean is my office, and I feel like it's helped my surfing as well. I have to read the ocean to help this person—who is paying me—get good waves, and keep them safe.
Q: What does it mean to be a wahine (woman) in modern surf culture?
A: There are a lot of wahine rippers these days. I am so surprised by how good these surfers are in general. I just try to be friendly in the lineup and not take too many waves. I share, but I still get my own because this is where I'm from. I've been here my whole life, and I feel like I have put in my time here. I just try to be friendly to everyone because everyone out there is trying their best. Whether they're in the way or not, I try to stay calm and remind myself that they're trying their best and work my way around them and politely communicate if it has to be. I've realized that yelling does not work. Getting angry does not work.