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A big wave goodbye to a swell 2008

Gary Kewley
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Friday - December 26, 2008
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Hoping for a totally tubular year in 2009, but shredable small waves are appreciated too

Happy Hollow Days, wave riders,

I hope you had a blessed Christmas with your family and friends, and that your holiday season is still going off! As we “wave” goodbye to another year, I want to start out with a thank you for reading my column here in MidWeek ... I’m stoked to be part of your surfing life in paradise.

The forecast isn’t the best for December; it’s way below seasonal averages. We must have burned off some of our “BIG wave quota” in late November, early December with those back-to-back-to-back 15-foot (and over) swells. Not to worry, of course, as Mother Nature somehow balances it all out in the grand scheme of things.

The new year is near, and we still await the awakening of our outer reefs for the fifth annual North Shore Tow-In Championships. This will run at either Avalanche outside Haleiwa harbor to the left or at outside Puena Point to the right. Both spots offer a unique set of challenges. Avalanche is a huge topto-bottom left-hander with lots of volume and face. It doesn’t reel down the line as fast as her neighbor just north across the channel. Puena Point barrels down the line for full-speed-ahead surfing.

Last year saw the place go off from 8 to 18 feet with the best “small”-wave performances I’ve ever seen on tow boards. The defending champs, Makua Rothman and Ikaika Kalama, will be on hand and charging hard to ensure their elite status as the North Shore’s top tow team. They have till the end of March to get the heavy water goods they need to run.

Another big-wave event also is in its holding period, but only till the end of February. We await “The Bay” to “call the day” for the QS/Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. This prestigious contest has run just six times in the last 23 years. The winners - Clyde Aikau, Keone Downing, Noah Johnson, Ross Clarke-Jones, Kelly Slater and Bruce Irons - all can claim a one-of-a-kind place in surfing competition. Just as Hawaii is considered the birthplace of surfing, Waimea Bay stands as the birthplace of big-wave riding.

The conditions have to “average” 20 feet Hawaiian scale or 35 feet crest to trough. This means, of course, that the swell needs to be 15-25 feet during daylight hours with good (vs. stormy) ocean textures. This doesn’t happen very often, to be sure. So we really can’t promise it will go in 2009. What I can promise is that just because you hear surf warnings posted, it doesn’t mean Eddie will go. He needs extra-special, extra-large waves. Good luck to Bruce Irons as he defends his spot as the man to beat at Waimea Bay.

The 2009 Fosters World Tour will kick off on Australia’s east coast Feb. 28 with only 10 events in ‘09 (Fiji is out again). It’s going to be fun seeing if Kelly Slater can nab his 10th title and Stephanie Gilmore grab her third (in a row)! There’s more talent in the water now than ever before ... so you never know. But just to be contradictory, I’m going to claim that these two surfers will indeed be world champs this time next year. Mark my words and make me eat them if I’m wrong. (Of course, Slater hasn’t even committed to ‘09 as yet, so it won’t count if he bows out and retires, OK? Thanks).

For our aspiring amateurs here at home, the Hawaii Surfing Federation (HSF) will kick off at Sandys Jan. 12; it’ll pump out a contest every month until the States June 2-5 at Ala Moana Bowl. This series is the same as the old HASA or Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association, but it’s actually gone back to its original ‘60s name of HSF; a project that took about two years. The hotline is 262-2488. You know there’s going to be a ton of action next year with the above and more, so stay right here and at SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM.

Again, thank you for 2008 and for being here right now in MidWeek.


GQ ... Droppin’ in 4 U!

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