Santa Cruz has been humming this week under the combined magic of a big northwest and a big south swell. Some of those same northwest waves marched in on Oahu’s north shore, where the videocameras were perfectly positioned.
A big, orderly swell chugging calmly ashore can fool many an onlooker into underestimating its difficulty. This video is a good mix of rides that make it look much too easy and rides that betray a sense of the kind of trouble you can get yourself into. In between the sweet, full-rail carves that seem to have been drawn by an architect, you’ve got broken boards; people disappearing into the lip, traceable only by their board; a guy inside a tube that munches another surfer, sending one spinning around the other.
We’ve all scraped sand out of our ears after an afternoon body-flopping in front of 2-foot waves breaking in waist-deep water. These waves are eight times the size (roughly 64 times the volume), breaking in the same water depth. For scale, keep in mind those boards are at least seven feet long.
Best moment: about halfway through a boogie boarder goes for a launch off the lip and succeeds beyond his wildest dreams (that’s him above, upside down, partially obscured by the mist). Floating like Jordan, he finally lands, flat on his stomach and still headed down the line.
But beyond all this gnarliness and thrill-seeking is the real marvelousness of this video: the rolling waves that look like sculptures, the breeze delicately riffling their faces, the walls glinting in the tropical afternoon, the patient ranks of set waves closing in from outside, and the sidebar on it all, a flotilla of surfers just trying to stay out of the way of the worst of it.