A BIG time for the North Shore

Gary Kewley
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Friday - February 15, 2008
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Big waves are stacking up on the horizon for the rest of February
Big waves are stacking up on the horizon for the rest of February

Aloha, surfers!

The waves are high rockin’ and rollin’! In fact, BIG Thursday cracks the outer reefs and the bay. We have warnings posted and wave warriors panting. This storm should be one of the biggest of the season. There should be many more above advisory NW swells through February. This is the stuff that makes Hawaii stand apart, and most surfers actually preferring the surf to go down - at least a little… please.

The Bank of Hawaii/Atlas Sales North Shore Tow In Surfing Championships really wants to go off in bigger surf this year. Last year was 8-15 feet off Puena Point. Ideally, Da Tow Boys are reaching for 20-30 feet. No matter what, though, you can bet when the day comes it will be worth seeing. I was out at the point last year witnessing the fastest down-the-line, high-performance tow boarding I’d ever seen. That was the year Makua Rothman and Ikaika Kalama won it. To know for sure if they grabbed Thursday’s whopper, log on to SURFNEWSNET-WORK.COM or call 638-RUSH.

I’ll also keep you posted on a new event to take the lineup - it is the 2008 Quiksilver Edition Ku Ikaika Challenge off Makaha Point. The holding period is Jan. 15 to the end of February. This is a one-day event and may nab the above-mentioned swell. Competitors will come from California, Tahiti, Australia ... as well as locally. The world’s first big-wave stand-up-paddle (SUP) surfing event is presented by C4 Waterman and Red Bull. The first time I saw the SUP style it just happened to be out at Makaha on a 10-foot day; the surfer just happened to be Brian Keaulana - who just happens to be the one I’m placing my bets on. I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. He didn’t sit down for over an hour while sweeping and paddling on triple overhead walls of clear, blue Makaha. This was before SUP took off.

The 2008 Fosters ASP World Tour kicks off in Australia not this weekend but next! What an ultra-exciting year this will be! The 11 events will be the most competitive season ever with the new school vs. old, and Australia vs. the U.S.! Will Kelly Slater grab his record ninth title or will Andy Irons make a comeback and nab his fourth? Or will world champ Mick Fanning prove he’s no one-title wonder? Only Slater is in the top five ... the rest are from Down Under: Fanning, Burrow, Parkinson and Durbidge. The top 10 shows us doing a little better with four Americans and one French kid (Jeremy Flores, the rookie of 2007). But all in all, Fanning has broken the barrier for the Land of Oz - and now they really feel like skipping down the yellow brick road to victory. Hopefully, someone from Hawaii or the Mainland states will know how to click his (bare) heels and bring us home again.

The surf community will really be coming together in unity for the Pro Board/Jeannie Chesser benefit and the Defend Oahu Coalition this Saturday at Waimea Valley Audubon Center. Master body surfer Mark Cunningham is helping put together a beautiful thing for a beautiful human being. Jeannie, of course, is fighting huge medical bills and a dangerous, rare cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). It’s an aggressive and scary cancer that forms on or just under the skin. In the U.S. there are more than 1 million new cases of non-melanoma per year and about 60,000 new cases of melanoma. Now take Merkel cell ... there are only about 1,200 new cases diagnosed per year. It is definitely linked to sun exposure, but the exact cause of MCC is unknown. This should be a wakeup call to everyone, fair- or dark-skinned, especially in Hawaii where ultraviolet rays are most powerful. Wear sun block - generously - well before you head for the beach ... every single time!

There are nearly 50 pro surfers donating and autographing their personal quivers for a raffle and auction (both silent and live). We’ve got jewelry, original art, books, photography and (of course) surf wear! There are also autographed items from Jimmy Buffett and Jack Johnson, live music, good vibes and times. Basically, we’ve got a huge surf party with a huge purpose. SNN is proud to be a sponsor along with Primo Island Lager and Quiksilver Foundation. Go to JEANNIECHESSER.COM to see how you can help.

See you Saturday and back here next week.

GQ, dropping in 4 U! Mahalo to J/B of Hawaiian Water Shots for the sick pic ...


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