May rolls in with big waves and good causes

Gary Kewley
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Friday - May 02, 2008
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Jamie O'Brien wins the trials to get his slot in the May 8 Billabong Pro in Tahiti
Jamie O’Brien wins the trials to get his slot in the May 8 Billabong Pro in Tahiti

Welcome to the month of May, surfers,

Wave No. 1 ... Can you believe it - May?! One thing for sure, we can believe in the surf. It’s been going off the hook this week from the SSW. So far there have been two very strong swells to pound town ... and it’s very early yet in the season. If it goes on like this (and there’s no way to know), spring/summer seasons will go down as memorable. Now add wind waves and a couple swells for country into the mix and ... we’re stoked!

Wave No. 2 ... Food for waves of thought ... did you know the two storms way Down Under that pushed up above advisory south swells were jainormous? They pumped up over 35-foot seas in the open ocean with some hurricane-force winds over 55 kts. What would have happened if the North Pacific were to get such behemoths? Well, the general answer is “Way too big for you and me!” The outer reefs would be 30 feet, and all the big wave riding events “would go” ... like Eddie. Jaws would’ve bitten down on Maui and its minions. All the mags would have enough heavy heroics to last the quarter.

The reason why South shores only got 4- to 6-foot average and not 20-30 feet is simple - space and time. Those South Pacific storms are about 4,500 miles away in space, or a week in time. Those giant swells lose about half their size every 1,000 miles. It’s called “wave decay,” and the math is far more complicated. But you get the idea. These are BIG storms that bring in the summer swells. If they were much closer, 99.9 percent of all wave riders would head for the hills and watch.

Wave No. 3 ... Coming up next weekend in Waikiki is a very special surf event - the second annual Freedom Surf Contest. Its theme isn’t about winning heats or the latest tricks on a wave ... it’s surfers giving back. The vision comes from Surfing the Nations (a Christian surf ministry that travels the globe). We all know what drugs have, can and will do to our youths and society. The purpose of this event at Queen’s is to surf for a drug-free Hawaii all Mother’s Day weekend! How appropriate ... when you think of Mom, you think of compassion and doing what’s right. So let us join in with our support of freedom from the chains of addiction. Let’s celebrate the healthy lifestyle that is surfing. See you there with your friends and family. Log on at and I’ll post photos on as well.

Mom's Day weekend event in Waikiki promotes a drug-free Hawaii
Mom’s Day weekend event in Waikiki promotes a drug-free Hawaii

Wave No. 4 ... Did you hear about Pipemaster Jamie O’Brien? He just won the trials round for the Billabong Pro in Tahiti starting May 8! They only let the top two get into this third World Championship Tour (WCT) event. O’Brien was the standout and on his game the whole time - he even towed into the infamous death-defying Chopo (Teahupoo) reef at 10-15 feet. This is the heaviest spot on the dream tour along with Pipeline. There were injuries, even for masters like O’Brien. Jamie O. is not on WCT tour by choice; he opts to use his unique status as a top-notch tube and trick specialist. He simply surfs around the world, blowing minds with his creative, skilled and gutsy approach to waves. He gets paid well for surfing well, period.

O’Brien also has a brash approach with his words ... they reveal his confidence and toughness. The superstar had this to say about the upcoming contest: “I knew the swell was going to be bombing when I came down here and the wind looked insane, so the whole event was super special,” he said. “One of the things I have always wanted to win was a Teahupoo trials, and I put that on my list a few years ago. I have nailed that, and now I have a chance to be in the main event and have fun. I’m not worried about it (main event). Barrel riding is what I do; I travel the world so I can go and surf barrels.

“I’m down for the main event; I’ll take them down.” ( Jamie also does his talking with walking ... on water. So, he may just win it all. I’m going to claim that he will make the finals. Hold me to it so I can say I told you so.

See you in the luscious lineup and back here next week. I’ll have more with Marion Lyman-Mersereau and her new book, Eddie Wen Go - the Story of the Upside Down Canoe, coming out this month.

GQ, Dropping in 4 U!


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