Collins also advises many of the world's top big-wave riders, a fraternity of maniacs who chase the 40- and 50-foot monsters. His forecasting turned tragic three years ago when he told Hawaiian big-wave man Mark Foo of a huge swell headed for Half Moon Bay, Calif. Foo flew east, took on the waves of Pillar Point and drowned. These days Collins makes a point to alert lifeguards and public-works officials to storms that might bring danger to their shores.
"I still get stoked for this job," says Collins, "but I really enjoy my off days, because I only lake a day off when I know the surf will be great. There's nothing like going out and riding the product."
Six Degrees of Success
Like a Story From a Movie
In The Air Up There, a 1994 basketball flick starring Kevin Bacon, a 6'9" Kenyan student named Charles Gitonga Maina played Saleh, a member of the fictional Winabi tribe, who, when not participating in odd tribal rituals, dunks with enough authority to attract the interest of a college coach. The film wasn't nearly as fascinating as Maina's real-life saga.
Now a junior center at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Maina, 24, has led the Knights to a 21-6 record and probably a spot in the Division II tournament. At week's end he was averaging 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3-2 blocks per game.
Growing up in Nairobi, Maina played no organized basketball and participated in only a few pickup games. On a lark one day, he attended an Air audition during which talent scouts asked him to dribble and shoot. "I was awkward and not very good," says Maina. But he was good enough for director Paul Michael Glaser, who offered him a role. For six months Maina worked on the film and on his game, the latter with NBA great Bob McAdoo, the movie's technical adviser.
With McAdoo's help Maina found his way to the States, playing at Barton County College in Great Bend, Kans., and Miami-Dade Community College before arriving at Lynn. "Charlie's one of the best shot blockers I've ever seen," says Lynn coach Jeff Price, "and he runs like a guard."
Maina hasn't decided whether he'd rather be the next Mutombo or the next Brando. "I love the excitement, when you go out there and work hard and sweat," says Maina. "I've found that in both areas."
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