Thursday, December 10, 2009

I was at the North Shore, not the North Pole!

My Grandpa's birthday was on Monday, December 7th. He is 93, and, like a good granddaughter, I waited until almost 9:30 PM his time to try to call and tell him Happy Birthday. It's tricky calling the grandparents because you have to let the phone ring long enough so that they have time to get up from their recliners and get to it, but you don't want to let it ring so long that they'll get up out of bed to answer it. Also, 9:30? I wasn't sure if they'd be in bed or staying up for the news. I think they were in bed. So, yesterday, I finally got hold of Grandpa, but either my cell phone reception wasn't very good or Grandpa's hearing is finally starting to go or maybe a little of both. I was trying to explain that the reason I missed his birthday was because I spent the last two days on the North Shore and didn't have cell phone reception. Not the North Pole, not the North Slope, the beach on the north side of the island. We finally settled on the fact that I was calling from Hawaii. Close enough.

Anyway, the reason I was on the North Shore was because we had some monster waves rolling in, and rumor had it that The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau was going to run. Eddie Aikau was a life guard and big-wave surfer who lost his life when the double-hull voyaging canoe that he was on capsized on its way from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1978. Eddie tried to paddle back to Hawaii for help but never made it. The Eddie is a big-wave surf competition at Waimea Bay that only goes if the waves are going to be sustained at 20 40 30 feet* or more for at least eight hours. Since the competition began 25 years ago, surfers brave enough to face these huge waves have waited for the word to paddle out in honor of their fallen brother, but the waves have only been big enough to hold the competition seven times prior.

This year, forecasters were saying we might see 60-foot waves, and that The Eddie might run on Monday, December 7th. Monday morning the big waves were rolling in, but overall conditions were deemed not-quite-right, so The Eddie was put on hold until Tuesday. Hubby and I went up north anyway because he had to fly out that night and would not be here for the competition if it went on Tuesday (which it did). While I'm pretty sure we didn't see any 60-foot waves, we did see some pretty big surf, and there were guys out surfing it. Here's one of the pictures that Hubby snapped.

I know it doesn't look like much here-it's hard to show perspective on things like the ocean-but if you look just to the right of the center, there is a guy on a surf board coming down the face of that wave. Here, let me see if I can help you:

When you figure that surf board's a good 10-12 feet or so and then do the math, it kind of gives you chicken skin, doesn't it? For some more pictures that do actually manage to capture some perspective and detail from this day-professional photographers and all-you can do a quick search** for "Eddie Aikau 2009 photos" and watch this highlight video (it's all impressive, but check out the stuff they are riding through starting at 2:37 and again at 3:28). You may notice the jet skis in some of the video, but this wasn't a tow-in competition; the jet skis were just there for rescue and to tow the surfers back in to shore at the end of a big ride. I also saw them towing photographers out, but as far as the surfing goes, if you wanted to surf it, you had to paddle out to it. Also, I would recommend watching the videos in full-screen mode. You lose a little clarity, but it's much more exciting that way!

Since Hubby was out of town on the big day, my cousin came with me to enjoy the big waves. Well, she would have come whether Hubby was here or not, but what I'm trying to say is that I didn't have to go hang out all by myself. That would have made the 50-minute wait in the bathroom line even more of a bummer. Here are a few of my pictures from the day of the competition.

If you were trying to call a business in Hawaii on Monday and couldn't get hold of anybody, this might be why. Anybody who wasn't already here, was stuck in traffic.

Here's what things looked like a little closer to the shore. I believe this is Kohl Christensen coming in after his awesome ride, which you can see in the highlights from in Heat 7. His ride starts at about 00:41.
By the way, you can watch the highlights of all the heats on YouTube.**  Each video is only about 2-4 minutes, and remember: Full screen!

This was the view from where we were sitting on the beach for the first few hours. The waves were pretty small by the time they reached us, and by "small" I mean "only" 8-10 feet.

This was our view of the surf action. Again, see the tiny little surfer coming down the wave? He's on the left, about 1/3 of the way in. I realize this isn't going to win any photo competitions, but it is a pretty accurate depiction of what we were experiencing on the beach. 

If you like big waves, you might also like:
Billabong Odyssey This has possibly my favorite surfing clip of all time as its trailer. (Historically, this clip has been mislabeled as "Surfing a Tsunami". It's not a tsunami; it's a surf break called Peahi, aka "Jaws," over on Maui). As amazing as the surfing is here, I'd like to point out the cinematography. Watch it again (and again and again and again...) and think about getting that shot. Awesome.

*2/9/16--40-foot faces according to the Quiksilver blog, 30-foot according to the news, 20 if you're calling it big. Let's just go with BIG.

**2/9/16--Unfortunately, Quiksilver doesn't seem to be big on archiving. When I originally wrote this post, I had links to some great videos and photos on their website; and while the videos seem to have migrated over to YouTube, I can't seem to find the photos anymore, so search away.


Mike said...

Wow! Those are some gnarly waves! :) (Do surfers talk like that anymore?) Seriously, that looks so cool. I've never surfed, buy even if I had I'd never go out in that. I need to check the site out.

Wendy said...

whoa - that's crazy!! That one photo really puts it into perspective. These photos are great because I have seen the professional pics - it's neat to see the contest as spectators see it.

Heather J. said...

Amazing! I am scared of teeny ocean waves so these would make me die of fright - but what an exciting event to watch. Lucky girl!

Dreamybee said...

Mike-I think the current terminology is "sick," but I'm really no expert! I'd never go out in that either-just watching those guys paddle out through the surf break freaks me out.

Wendy-Glad you liked the pics. I'm jus' tryin' to keep it real for my peeps, yo!

Heather J-I know what you mean. I manage to freak myself out in the calmest of conditions. I can't imagine being out in the water and seeing one of these things coming at you!

Anonymous said...

We were lucky to be on the North Shore in 2004, so we got to see the Eddie. My boyfriend drug me down there at dawn...I ended up standing on the road beside Mark Occhilupo checking out the waves.

We're watching this year's event on tv right now.

Dreamybee said...

We were there in 2004 too! Isn't it crazy to watch those guys surf that stuff? We were down on the beach with one hand on all of our belongings, preparing to run up the shore at a moment's notice when the *really* big waves came rolling in! Aren't you glad your boyfriend dragged you down there? Did you know who Mark Occhilupo was at the time? I just had to look him up. For all of my talk about big waves, I only know a few of the names.

Jeanne said...

I thought of you when I read about the big's fun to know you were there!

Wendy said...


Dreamybee said...

Jeanne-Aw, thanks for thinking of me!


Country Mouse said...

That was funny about your grandad. My dad is 94 so I know what you mean! ... Waves are so hard to photograph. I was trying myself yesterday - much smaller waves but still impressive to see, near Santa Cruz CA. Photos don't convey the reality, but taking them does make you look at reality more closely.

Dreamybee said...

That's a good point about how taking photos makes you look at things differently. I hope you were able to get some good shots the other day!