North Shore beaches
closed to public;
Lifeguards bar people fromBy Susan Kreifels
Sunset, Ehukai, Ka Waena
City lifeguards today closed North Shore beaches but left Waimea Bay open to a select few to challenge the high surf.
Ocean Safety Lt. Mark Cunningham said surf was running between 15-25 feet.
The Quiksilver Eddie Aikau surf meet, held only when surf reaches heights of 25 feet or more, was scheduled today at Waimea. This would be only the third time in the last 14 years for the event, Cunningham said.
The beaches closed to the public are Sunset, Ehukai, Ka Waena and Haleiwa.
Heather Giugni is from Aiea, but today was the first time she drove to the North Shore to check out the big ones. She wasn't disappointed at the Waimea waves. "They're big," she said.
Hundreds of tourists and residents lined Kamehameha Highway on either end of Waimea Bay today to catch the huge sets, backing up traffic throughout day.
George Downing, the surf contest's director, said the crowd was "unusually big, I expect because of the holiday."
Lifeguards there estimated the waves to be about 20 feet.
Before the competition had started, two non-contest surfers suffered injuries at Waimea Bay -- one broken leg, and the other injury unknown, but lifeguards didn't think it was life-threatening. Both were taken to Wahiawa Hospital by ambulance.
No ocean rescues were reported by late morning.
Among the spectators were Ron Swisher of Chesapeake, Va., in Hawaii working for Raytheon, and his wife, Danielle. He said the waves were the biggest he had seen so far, but not as big as he had expected. Swisher, watching the waves, said he surfs, "but not that kind."
Star-Bulletin reporter Rod Ohira contributed to this report.