Surfing on the North Shore of Hawaii
While some people on the mainland are enjoying a winter wonderland, seasonal waves on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii are reaching record heights. The Quiksilver which has only been held eight times in 25 years, happens when the waves are a sustained 20-25 feet high. Some of the faces exceeded 40 feet. The last time the competition occurred was in 2004. But this year, luckily it happened again on December 8, 2009.
The contest is held where the waves are at their best in Waimea. The enormous waves have been anticipated for several weeks. With a cloudless sky, temperatures starting the morning in the upper 60s and ending up in the 70s, it made for the perfect atmosphere. Over 30,000 people gathered on the strip of beach waiting and watching.
Onlookers were not disappointed as Greg Long from San Clemente, California, survived a nearly sheer drop down a huge wave in the final heat. He received a perfect 100 from the judges, which put him in first place. The drop could obviously have been life threatening if he did not follow through. He wins $55,000 in the most prestigious surfing competition. Surfers involved are there by invitation only.
Kelly Slater, who had led most of the daylong competition, came in second. Slater won the Aikau event in 2002. Sunny Garcia, a former world champion came in third and Bruce Irons, came in fourth. He won the competition in 2004.
The swell held most of the day and pulsed higher towards the end of the contest. There were a few crazy wipeouts, broken surfboards and even one surfer who feel on his board only to get back up and complete the run. Lifeguards were also busy giving out 10,000 warnings and completing four rescues to professional wannabes.
So what is the lure of the huge dangerous surf? The best wave riders honor the former first lifeguard at Waimea, Eddie Aikau (The Hawaiian Superman) who gave his life trying to save his comrades on shipwreck in 1978. Follow the following link to learn the rest of the story about Eddie.
Many Hawaiian residents called in sick to work and even took their kids out of school for this once in a lifetime opportunity. The difficult thing about the North Shore is that there is only one road, Kamehameha Highway, that goes right along the beach, so traffic involving 30,000 people was very congested. Congrats to the winners!!