Yesterday, a colossal run of swell blitzed the North Shore of Hawaii, the magnitude of which, we've not seen in years. Though it was forecast to be marred with strong wind at the likes of Maui's XXL wave Jaws, it didn't stop a crew of the world's best big wave surfers launching into some throaty, bumpy caverns – and French charger Justine Dupont may have just stolen the show with an absolute insane-o barrel.
Things got off to a slow start yesterday, the swell was still building at first light, with some eager frothers sat in the channel, awaiting signs that Jaws was fully cooked. Word was filtering through that spots along the North Shore were already too unruly.
“Waimea was already maxed out,” said MSW's Matt Rode, who then proceeded to paddle out there (more on that soon...) “Dane Gudang and I were travelling around trying to find somewhere. Swell was still building and the bay was already closing out at 8am. Some of the other spots, it was just too big to get out there without a ski.”
The Jaws deadlock was broken by Shaun Walsh (yeah, Ian's bro) who scooped into a brute of a wave, tall and menacing from the channel. Followed quickly by Brad Domke, who towed in on a skim board, as only he could.
“That was so fun,” said Shaun. “Love every minute of it. From surfing to driving safety and even driving the boat. It was just one of those awesome days, felt good to be out there with my brothers and super stoked I was put in the perfect spot for that wave.”
Then, the flurry began. Big wave world champ, Billy Kemper was in there, Nathan Florence, Justine Dupont, Albee Layer, Andrea Moller, Eli Olson, Gmac, Ian Walsh, Makua Rothman, Trevor Carlson, Tyler Larronde, Othmane Choufani and of course, Kai Lenny with brother Ridge.
Shooting from the cliff for MSW was Maui Media Cartel, and when those legends say it is “hard to describe what they just documented”, you know there's something special in there. We'll be dropping the edit once today has wrapped up, which looks like it may hold less size but with much less wind – meaning it could be the perfect paddle day for big wave surfing's favourite spectacle.
About yesterday's session, MSW forecaster Tony Butt said: "The swell was generated by a low that appeared off Japan around Tuesday 12, and deepened rapidly as it tracked across the western half of the North Pacific, before veering off to the northeast and weakening.
"The main bulk of the swell travelled eastwards, north of Hawaii, but there was still enough spreading towards the southeast for a huge, long-period but relatively short-lived pulse of swell to reach the Islands. In the end, the swell filled in a bit more slowly than originally forecast, but the result wasn’t much different – wave heights of over 30 feet at Peahi. As forecast, local conditions were challenging, with fresh easterly winds."
And we'll be updating this piece as more comes in from yesterday.