A Bodysurfer’s Dream Break

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - February 11, 2009
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A bodysurfer flies in the 3rd Marines Pyramid Rock bodysurfing and handboarding competition

Tucked away on the Mokapu Peninsula in Kaneohe Bay sits one of Oahu’s bodysurfing jewels. Ancient Hawaiians called the area Ku’au, which means the handle - locals simply call it Pyramid Rock.

“You can’t beat the break, it’s that beautiful,” says veteran oceanman and professional photographer Twain Newhart. “The lefts can go on for what seems like an eternity, and the rights are as hollow as anywhere in Hawaii. When the conditions are right, it feels like you’re flying.”

Unfortunately (or fortunately), not everyone has experienced “flying” at Pyramid Rock. The white, sandy beach is located on the northern end of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, and gaining access to the break is not easy.

“You basically have to be invited to get on base,” says Newhart. “It doesn’t happen often.”

The beach is named for the pyramid-shaped rock that nearly sits in the ocean, and like many other breaks on base, this one is home to lava shelves and strong, open-ocean wave action.


“Anytime you get a chance to bodysurf the break, it’s a rare opportunity,” says Newhart. “When it’s good, it’s great!”

Hawaii’s best bodysurfers got that chance recently in the third annual 3rd Marines Pyramid Rock bodysurfing and handboarding competition. The event is organized by Capt. Ben Mercier of the U.S. Marine Corps. Mercier also is a member of the Hawaii State Bodysurfing Association and the Hui o He’e Nalu.

“I thought up the contest while I was in Baghdad during my last deployment in 2006,” says Mercier. “I wanted to help out hurt Marines.”

All money raised from the event goes to fallen or wounded Marines at MCBH. Newhart was one of more than 100 people who made the most of perfect 4- to 6-foot conditions while giving back to those who served.

“A chance to bodysurf Pyramid Rock - are you kidding me? I’ll pay $25 any day,” jokes Newhart. “Truthfully, it’s for an absolutely worthy cause, and we’re glad we could help our soldiers and their families.”

What few may know is the area is more than just a great place to bodysurf. In 1941, a light was mounted on the roof of a square concrete work-house on the natural feature. Pyramid Rock Light guides vessels into Kaneohe Bay.

“The break has so much history,” reflects Newhart. “After all these years, it still serves a purpose.”

Several weeks ago, it served a different purpose to Hawaii’s elite bodysurfers. The rock guided men and women through amazing conditions.

“It was so big people were taking off from way outside,” recalls Newhart. “It was lining up, wrapping around the rock and hitting that shelf with so much force - it doesn’t get any better. This break can hold a big wave, and that’s what we enjoyed.”

It was a chance to enjoy the Windward jewel at its finest. Event organizers hope there will be more opportunities in the future.

“I hope it will continue forever,” says Mercier.

Here’s a list of the first place winners: 18-under, Trevor Owens (2008 Champion); Open Wahine, Sanja DuPlessis; 19-25, Hoyt Fuller Jr.; 26-34, Ian MacDonald (2007 and 2008 champion); 35-49, Kai Santos (2007 grand champ); 50-plus, Hoyt Fuller Sr. (2007 champion); 2009 Pyramid Rock grand champion, Ian MacDonald.

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