EC Ambassador Chad Campbell Tells the Epic Tale of Man vs. Mother Nature

It’s been nearly a year since I tried to beat up the Cloudbreak’s reef with my face. For the anniversary, I thought it would only be right to tell the tale.

The waves on that fateful day weren’t particularly big, or particularly heavy. It was a pretty average day for Cloudbreak, really. Maybe eight-foot faces on the sets, kind of gloomy, and a bit wonky, as the swell broke up the peaks a bit.

I caught a ride out with the legend Dave Clark during the Tavarua “changeover,” a brief two-hour window when there are no guests on the island and the crew gets a little quiet time. We pulled up, tied up, and jumped in. The waves were fun but not life changing. Not yet, at least. I caught a couple of fun ones. The swell direction was really south, which made most of them go out to sea, but it also meant there were a few random waves that bent in on the end of the reef and got very angry. Sometimes they’ll let you out before you feel the wrath, though. I had just got a little tube, did a few turns, and was paddling back out way on the end of the reef, smack dab in the zone suitably named shishkabobs for its history of skewering unlucky, unqualified, or overzealous humans. Of course, That weird end bender, angry-but-could-be-amazing tempter, the “I know better” piece of ocean popped up. It was mid to low tide (sketchy down there), it kind of looked like a closeout (but those are the best ones), and I thought to myself “maybe not this one?” Then reconsidered and thought the same thought that has caused so much trouble and triumph throughout history: “fuck it.”

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