Surf's Up
December 20, 2004 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Surf's Up! While many of us in North America are battling freezing rain, sleet, snow, and other sub-zero madness, the folks on the north shore of Oahu are enjoying their own December weather phenomenon.
posted by Crackerbelly (15 comments total)
*pees wetsuit in terror*

Huge waves. The biggest waves I've ever ridden probably peak at around 15 feet. And these are nice, friendly California waves breaking over nice, friendly California sand beaches. And even then, I'm generally bodysurfing or bodyboarding.

Those monster swells probably breaking over reefs, and are much, much thicker and generally more unfriendly looking.
posted by loquacious at 10:41 AM on December 20, 2004

It's bad enough that it feels like -40 Celsius with the windchill here in Ottawa without seeing pictures of Oahu.
posted by srboisvert at 10:43 AM on December 20, 2004

Hmmm...the story of Eddie Aikau makes for a good read itself...
posted by tpl1212 at 10:59 AM on December 20, 2004

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the opera glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columnated ruins domino

posted by ludwig_van at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2004

Yup, that seems about par for the course ...

I lived on the North Shore for 3 years (Waialua) before moving to SF 14 months ago, and that's generally what the surf looks like.

40's a bit bigger than average, but it's close.

You could tell it was a big surf day when the waves pounding the beach would literally wake you up. And when you're standing on the shore, the beach literally shakes with the impact.

Only Hawaiians could look at stuff like that and say "Let's go out in it!".

Crazy through and through, but real fun to watch.
posted by Relay at 11:32 AM on December 20, 2004

Once the *Tour* started, I lost all interest. I always surfed, and saw surfing, as an vehicle for one's individual growth, physical, and spiritual. No money in that, though.

(also, the largest waves I surfed in were probably a bit more than double overhead, Huntington Beach once. . .could barely make it out. . .scared the shit out of me. . .)
posted by Danf at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2004

Recently saw Riding Giants and Step Into Liquid - two entertaining films about surfing. Incredible footage. Great stories.
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on December 20, 2004

Best photo ever!
posted by me3dia at 1:00 PM on December 20, 2004

Me3dia, it looks like Santa is slacking this year.
posted by Crackerbelly at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2004

I was born and raised on maui, and an interesting fact that not many people are aware of is that hawaii is the only place that measures the back of a wave when giving surf reports.

as a general rule of thumb the face of the wave is about twice that of the back. 10 foot surf in hawaii is 20 feet anywhere else.

ho'okipa saw 25 foot waves during this swell, that's 50 footers. jaws, just up the road from ho'okipa, is the largest break in the world.
posted by nearo at 1:43 PM on December 20, 2004

that hawaii is the only place that measures the back of a wave when giving surf reports.
Are you sure? Can't recall the last surf report I heard in California. All the surfers I knew in So. Cal measured a wave's length like you would in science class, half of the wave’s face.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:40 PM on December 20, 2004

In light of the waves and the weather, I would just like to reiterate how much Hawai`i rules.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:57 PM on December 20, 2004

wave's length = wave's height

Here's a good read posted earlier this year about Big Wave Riding. Even includes tales of its origin.

nearo, check out the spot in California called Maverick's near Half Moon Bay.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:01 PM on December 20, 2004

OK, I don't wanna get into a mainland/island haole/Happa thing here but I always heard that Maverick's had the biggest, and that on occasion, Jaws would get close, but only when there were big storms in the gulf or North Pacific.

Help me out here Nearo.
posted by Relay at 3:30 PM on December 20, 2004

hawaii is the only place that measures the back of a wave when giving surf reports

That used to be true, but was semi-recently changed due to misconceptions/lawsuits by tourists who heard a surf report calling for 4-5 feet, and then thinking they'd be fine to go splashing in the waves that day, when in actuality the waves' faces were far larger than five feet. The Hawaii news and newspaper forecasts have since changed their methodology (this did not change, of course, the way most people on the islands measured waves). I have heard of many different methods of wave height measuring, but in my experience (raised in Maui, now live in California) Hawaiians typically call the waves by the backs of the waves (usually about half their face size), Californians usually call them by the front of the wave if measuring in feet (although more often by the terms "overhead" "double-overhead" and so on), and the Aussies have a real weird method that doesn't seem to sync with either of the others, but gives a range that usually falls between the Hawaiian and Californian sizes.

As far as comparing Mavs and Jaws, IMHO Jaws is by far the scarier wave (although there may be a bit of a Hawaii bias there). Mavs is a conventional wave that can be paddled into without assistance, while Jaws is so powerful and moves so quickly that a jet ski is required just in order to gain the necessary speed to actually ride the beast. Just a few days ago, Archie Kalepa rode what some people called a 70-foot wave (and I just happened to arrive back in Maui for winter break on the 15th...just in time to watch the fireworks). This is not to take anything away from Mavs, which can definitely get as big, but I simply think Jaws is the more fearsome wave.
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:37 PM on December 20, 2004

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