Wednesday, December 26, 2001

People enjoyed some playful shorebreak waves at Waimea Bay yesterday. Weather forecasters expect dangerous surf there today.

Big surf headed
for islands’ north,
west shores

20- to 30-footers are expected;
Kaena Point State Park is closed
and waves begin to wash over roads

Mavericks ready for mammoths

By Craig Gima

City lifeguards closed Kaena Point State Park this morning because of high surf and alerted Oahu Civil Defense of dangerous conditions on the North Shore where waves were washing over roadways and into people's yards.

Wave heights were at 15 feet about 7:30 this morning and continued to build, said Jim Howe, Operations Chief of the Lifeguard Service.

The Lifeguard Service is advising people of no swimming or ocean activity -- its strongest advisory -- from Kahuku to Kaena Point.

"It's not a day to even be on the beach," Howe said.

The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning for the northwest shores of all islands at 8 a.m. predicting wave heights of 20 to 30 feet today.

Howe said there were some surfers in the water at Waimea Bay but he said the conditions are "ugly" because of on-shore winds.

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau surf tournament was off for the day.

"This swell is going to be big and we're recommending that everybody stay out of the water and, actually, because of the surge, stay well away on the shoreline," said Tim Craig, of the National Weather Service.

Peter Wright of Jacksonville, Fla., went bodyboarding with his son Paul at Sunset Beach yesterday where the surf was estimated at four to six feet.

If surf reaches 30 feet today he said, "we might choose to go to Hilo and see if we can see some lava," rather than brave the ocean.

Conditions at Sunset were windy yesterday and except for a few bodyboarders and kite surfers, the water was empty. Most people watched the kite surfers from the shore and didn't get too close to the water, lifeguards said.

Last month, 20-year-old college student Rachel Cardoza drowned after she was swept out to sea while she and her boyfriend were walking along the shore near the surfing spot known as Backdoors. The surf that day was estimated at 10 to 15 feet.

A kite surfer who crashed his kite was rescued yesterday at Sunset. "He was struggling to get in. He probably could have gotten in but we were nice and went out in the jet ski and helped him," lifeguard Brendon Shea said.

Expert kite surfer John Amundson said yesterday's conditions were "a good Christmas present."

He said he was prepared to go out today to either kite surf or get his surfboard out if the winds die down.

"If it's light winds then I'm out there. If it's windy, I'm out there."

Reporter Nelson Daranciang
contributed to this story.

Mavericks ready for
mammoths to come ashore

By Ron Harris
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO >> The waves at Mavericks, a once-secret surf spot down the coast from San Francisco, steadily reach heights of 40 feet -- often more.

They are the site of a famous wipeout that made magazine covers. They can also kill.

On Christmas Eve in 1994, Hawaii champion surfer Mark Foo was crushed by a 30-foot wall of water.

Still, seven years after his death, 21 surfing stalwarts patiently awaited the opportunity to challenge the power of the sea at the legendary spot in the "Quicksilver Men Who Ride Mountains" contest.

The waiting period for this year's surf contest began Dec. 8 and organizers have been watching buoy heights swell intervals ever since.

The waves were down a bit Monday by Mavericks' standards, but swells were forecast to grow throughout the week. Twenty contest alternates also stand ready to surf Mavericks when organizers make the call.

"Big swells are lining up in the Pacific and Jeff Clark and Quicksilver are poised and ready to call the event," said Frank Quirarte, one of the contest's coordinators stationed within sprinting distance of the dangerous surf zone.

Jeff Clark discovered the surfing magic at Mavericks and rode the waves alone for more than 20 years before letting a few of his buddies in on his very big little secret in the early 1990s.

Quirarte, Clark and the gang are waiting patiently for the perfect confluence of nature to hit the quirky Mavericks, named for a dog and located just offshore near the tiny town of Princeton-By-The-Sea.

Mavericks is the prime spot along the northern California coast where huge swells meet a rapidly rising sea floor to form the giant waves.

A submerged, rocky bed nicknamed "The Boneyard" awaits fallen surfers who ride the Mavericks breaks in too far.

The contest title and first place cash were captured in the first two years by Darryl "Flea" Virostko of nearby Santa Cruz. With his flair for air-drops -- leaving the face of the wave briefly at the top and dropping to its base below -- Virostko dominated the contest over big wave veterans like Australians Ross Clarke Jones and Tony Ray, and Brock Little from Hawaii.

The contest was not held last year due to untimely small wave conditions. This year's one-day event promises $30,000 of its $75,000 total prize purse to the winner.

One contestant who won't return this year is Jay Moriarity. The big wave surfer from Santa Cruz with an international reputation -- and the subject of the famous wipeout -- died June 15 in a diving accident in the Maldives. His memory has been heavy on the hearts of many area surfers and a memorial on the waves in his hometown drew 2,000 people.

And there's a small memorial to Foo on the cliffs, reminding contestants that the action on the waves at Mavericks can too be swift and final.

The lure of Mavericks' monster waves brings back the world's top big wave surfers, despite the constant air of danger.

"Mavericks is the kind of place that breaks so often, you can't help but get your hopes up," Clark said recently.

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