February surf: 28 days of big waves

Gary Kewley
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Friday - February 06, 2009
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Gov. Linda Lingle presents surfboard shapers Jeff Bushman and Kyle Bernhardt with the Governor’s Innovation Award

Aloha, surfers,

Here’s your first February surf installment - and it’s a BIG one. Right about now (Friday, Feb. 6) waves are above the advisory level criteria of 15 feet (crest to trough or 8 feet local scale). This NW swell was produced by a huge storm near Japan that tracked northeast, covering a large portion of the North Pacific Ocean. The reason it wasn’t 20 feet local scale was its long distance from Hawaii (2,400 miles out).

You see, open-ocean wave size declines at roughly half for every 1,000 miles traveled. For example, if the significant wave height out there was 45 feet and they need to travel 2,400 miles to get here, they’d be about 25 feet 1,400 miles away; 12 feet 700 miles out; then about 10 feet once they jack on the reef. Of course, nature is more complex than this, but it helps with the basic forecast “guestimates.”

There are more waves on the way, too, as it’s still big-wave season for the country (December through February). Things will start to mellow out next month.


The other good news is not one, but two out-of-season SSW swells are going to last several days. Now add in the nice trade swells we’ve been having and it’s a surf celebration around the compass! Here we are in the most geographically isolated land mass on the planet and surrounded by waves. STOKED!

Hey, heads up ... There’s a new website called purpletide.com. It’s fresh and fast-loading, giving those in a rush the chance to glance and go. It’s got good info, since it’s powered by SNN (Surf News Network). The team wanted to give everyone the option to choose based on their needs at that moment. Now go get ‘em and enjoy.

Big congratulations to Maui’s very own rippa, 19-year-old Lipoa Richards-Kahaleuahi! She just had an amazing winning streak of four events in the College Women’s Division of the 2008-09 Southwest Conference in California. This exciting surfer is going off in waves far from her hometown of Hana. Lipoa attends UC Santa Barbara as a sophomore, and obviously handles the cold waters very well. With such momentum, it’s possible for her to gun for her first major National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) title in the upcoming state championships. We’ll keep you posted - and best wishes to Lipoa!

The NSSA mission statement: “A nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage and assist its members in their interest to learn and develop the fundamentals and skills of surfing competition while competing in structured and quality events. The NSSA promotes the qualities of discipline and competitive excellence while supporting the merits of academic achievement to young surfers. The NSSA strives to provide a fun surfing experience for all of its members.”(NSSA.org)

Hey, huge kudos to master shapers and North Shore residents Jeff Bushman and Kyle Bernhardt for receiving the Governor’s Innovation Award for December 2008! They showed their “ingenuity and determination to find creative solutions to critical issues facing Hawaii.” Specifically, Bushman and Bernhardt discovered unique ways to protect our environment in surfboard-making, thus perpetuating the sport of kings while protecting and respecting the ‘aina. The name of their company is Country Feeling Surfboards, and it is devoted to making “environmentally friendly material, including soy- and sugar-based foams; plant-based and solar-activated resins; as well as hemp, silk and bamboo cloth.”

What a great idea from these great craftsmen. I’m sure it’s taken tons of time and effort and cash. Let’s show them our support. Log on to www.countryfeelingsurfboards.com. And remember our state motto for more than 160 years: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono: The life of the land is perpetuated in Righteousness.”

Aloha and happy surfing.

GQ, Dropping in 4 U!

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