High North Shore surf draws crowd


POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009

Marc Winchell scrambled but the wave sucked him up and dropped him, snapping the surfboard he had borrowed from his friend.

“;It wasn't that bad, the beating,”; he said. “;It sucked me back. It was feathering.”;

Winchell was grabbed by a “;sneaker set”; yesterday while catching the high surf that drew spectators to the North Shore despite the drizzle.

The National Weather Service has issued a high surf warning for north- and west-facing shores on Oahu until 6 a.m. today. The surf was reported to be as high as 25 feet.

It will drop today to about 12- to 18-foot faces on the North Shore and 7- to 12-foot faces on west shores. Another North Shore swell is expected Saturday.

Lifeguards closed shorebreaks along all North Shore beaches and gave hundreds of warnings for beachgoers to get away from the water, said lifeguard Lt. John Hoogsteden. Only experienced surfers went into the water.

;[Preview]  Big surf hits Oahu's North Shore

Dangerously large waves are crashing into most north and west shores.

Watch ]


Two surfers were reported to be in trouble, but made it back on their own by 11 a.m., one with a broken board, Hoogsteden said. This occurred before Winchell broke his board.

About 50 surfers braved 20- to 25-foot waves at Waimea Bay, surfers said.

“;A lot of guys, boards flying all over the place,”; said Carlos Costa. He said a large wave snatched his board and snapped his leash as he dove underwater.

“;The North Shore is unforgiving on days like today,”; Hoogsteden said. “;Think about swimming pools dumped on your head all day long.”;

But surf spots at Ehukai and Sunset beaches were mostly empty because of choppy surf.

The large surf postponed the start of the second leg of the Triple Crown of Surfing, which was in the second day of the waiting period.

Jodi Wilmott, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing spokeswoman, said when waves get too big at Sunset, they become choppy because the water isn't that deep.

“;Sunset Beach was feeling the brunt of this huge swell and it was absolutely unridable,”; she said. She said the swell looks good enough to start the tournament tomorrow.

Alison Maiore of Hoboken, N.J., sat on an overcast and hazy Ehukai Beach, expecting “;to see that neat little pipeline wave.”;

She was disappointed the waves weren't clean, but impressed by large waves breaking as far out as out on the third reef.

“;This is something spectacular,”; she said.