I was ‘there’

big waves by rjones0856

Water water everywhere
[Via Cosmic Variance]

Northern New Mexico is an absolutely fabulous place to live. But, on occasion, I wish I had a teleporter handy. One of those occasions would be when the “Swell of the Century” hits the Hawaiian Islands, as it did last week. It turned out to be more like the “Swell of the Decade”, but apparently was nonetheless quite spectacular. Spectacular enough to hold the Eddie, a big-wave contest that can only be held in epic conditions.

There’s some good video here and here. Conditions were apparently squirrely, so most of the footage consists of fairly spectacular drops leading to gnarly wipeouts. Every now and then someone (often Kelly Slater [at left above]) emerges intact. Unless you’ve been out in overhead+ surf, I think it’s hard to fathom just how powerful these waves can be. You’ve bodysurfed three footers, and you think you have a clue. But you don’t. For a little perspective, here’s an excellent video from a (professional) surfer who wiped out at Jaws (on the north shore of Maui; it only fires on big days [like last week]). He survived (more-or-less).


I wrote about this last week. Seeing it live on the web was awesome. It was almost like being there. No compilations, no editing. Just the raw stuff. Knowing it is something that only happens once or twice a decade and being part of the immediacy of the event made it a highlight of the year for me.

What is nice about watching surfing competitions live like this is that there are lots of lulls between the excitement, so I could get other work done while having the video on in the background. The early heats were okay but the last ones were incredible. The waves just got bigger. Watching the wave explode and then seeing the surfer appear in front of it is always spine-tingling. Thank goodness there were all the watercraft present to help surfers. In fact, some of those rescues were very exciting as the jet ski raced in to get the surfer before another wave came in and pounded him. They really should have a highlight of what those rescuers accomplished.

But, of course, the edited material is wonderful. You can check out some of the highlights at the Quicksilver site. Check out the Best Waves and Wipeouts for a real feel of the power of these waves and the balls of anyone who tries to ride them.

In honor of this event, I have my Endless Summer genius playlist going on iTunes. Here are the first 6 songs:

[Listening to: Perfidia from the album “Gold” by The Ventures]