When Will Eddie Go?

The snow in Utah has been mediocre at best this season, so last week I decided to cash in some frequent-flier miles and go to Hawaii. I heard the surf was going to be extra large on the North Shore of Oahu. The North Shore is the birthplace of big-wave riding in Waimea Bay. It also is the home of the infamous Banzai Pipeline.

Every year there’s a waiting period for the Eddie Aikau big-wave surfing contest. The waiting period goes from December 1st to February 28th. To hold the contest the waves must  reach a minimum height of 20 feet. The contest has only been held eight times in the last 29 years. I had the honor to watch it in 2009 and can’t wait to see it again. To me this is my Super Bowl. So with some luck I was hoping it would run when I was there. That wasn’t the case. The waves were large enough but not organized due to the strong onshore winds. People still caught some nice waves during that week, and here are some of my photos to share with you.


Everyone came out to see how big the swell was, 1000s of people came throughout the day to the shores just to watch waves with no one even surfing them. Here’s a rare sight of Waimea Bay completely washed out.



Looking towards Waimea Bay from Sharks Cove. All the beaches were closed to swimming due to high surf and strong currents along the North Shore.



The next day the swell dropped some and the winds died downed a bit, so the surfers took to the bay. Not Eddie size but still big.



The heavy artillery also showed up. There’s never a shortage of big lenses in Hawaii; sometimes you can’t walk more than 20 feet along the beach without seeing one. I use a 400mm 2.8 with a camera 1.4 crop sensor. With the crop it turns a 400mm into a 580mm. I found it sharper than having an extender on. I think it’s the sharpest lens I have. I can read their board sponsor logo a half-mile away.



A surfer finding some air.



Another air drop.



An air drop that leads to a multiple-person wipeout.



This is what surfers call “over the falls.”



Everything going well in this shot.



Two surfers getting it done in black and white.



This photo was taken in January of 2011 during the “Almost Eddie.” It’s a photo of Kelly Slater, Kala Alexander, Sunny Garcia, and Tom Carroll sharing the wave with some unknown surfer.



A surfer during the last Eddie in December 2009. It shows you how big the waves can get at Waimea.

On the big days at Waimea, Pipeline washes out and can’t be surfed.  The next day after I shot Waimea I went down to Pipe at sunrise. The surf cleaned up nice and was delivering perfect barrels.


Looking down at Pipeline, love the perfect glassy wave.



Going down the line, about to get barreled.






Nice early-morning light at Pipe. I would go down every day just before sunrise, the wind would be calm, and the glassy waves would be perfect.



Another perfect wave.



A Pipe traffic jam.



A foamy tube.



A Pipeline form of  ”planking.”



I could show you lots of perfect barrels without seeing the surfer that’s in them. That would be silly, so here’s only a nose of a board.



Getting the shot. I would love to have some water shots.



Bailing out.



Your Pipeline experience wouldn’t be complete without some backdoor action.



John John Florence throwing some trickery from above.


The North Shore of Oahu is the surfing mecca of the world, even the school crossings speak surf. If you love the surf culture and waves, this is the place to be.

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