Maxing out Waimea from yesterday's swell. Photo: @connorkollenda

Maxing out Waimea from yesterday’s swell. Photo: @connorkollenda

The Inertia

Greg Noll surfed large Waimea Bay in 1957. At the time the local Hawaiians believed 25-30 foot Waimea was impossible to ride. And now, nearly 60 years since Da Bull tackled Da Bay, the world’s best surfers still struggle out there on occasion, like yesterday.

A solid El Niño-fueled swell rocked Oahu on Wednesday sending mountainous walls of whitewater cascading off the outer reefs and exploding on the shore. Few, if any, spots on the North Shore can be considered rideable in those conditions. But for those who made the attempt to paddle out, Waimea Bay was the best option. And many local chargers were on it along with some international hellmen.

Among the crowd braving the 25-30 foot swell was Kelly Slater with his longtime friend and current WSL commentator Ross Williams. But before they could make it out…well, they couldn’t. With massive close-outs rolling through even the deeper parts of the bay, Kelly and Ross never even made it past the impact zone.

“Well that was fun,” Kelly wrote on Instagram. “Sitting here watching closeout sets roll thru after getting sent to the beach trying to paddle out. First time I’ve had a #WalkOfShame at #Waimea.”


Before paddling out they should’ve heeded the warning of local boy Mason Ho, who also attempted but failed to make it out.

“Choking on my ego right now,” Ross wrote via Insta. “Paddled out with @kellyslater and got smacked right back to shore with a broken leash. @cocom4debarrelkilla got smashed minutes before us and offered us lunch if we could make it out. His bet’s safe.”

Aside from Mase, Ross, and Kelly’s failed attempt, many others made it out and got some really good, REALLY BIG waves. Kelly and Ross heralded a wave from Hawaiian Luke Shepardson with Kelly calling it, “the biggest wave you can catch out here.”


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