I got home from my run this morning and found Scott feeding Moana breakfast while watching the Eddie live online. Here's a little clip of what we were seeing:
I was captivated. So cool- this sport that I really don't know much about, but wow. Those guys are amazing.
I found out that the competition was also being played live on a local cable station here, so I turned on the TV and watched on the bigger screen. The commentators were good and helped me learn a lot, and they showed the best waves and wipeouts on replay. Eddie's brother, Clyde, was competing today. He's 60. Yes, 60. Riding these huge waves!! In fact, seems like quite a few of the guys were a bit older... in their 40's at least. More evidence that as we get old er we just get better, especially at extreme sports like these. That said, there was an 18 year old competing today as well.
Anyway, I was undecided about whether or not Moana and I would actually go up to Waimea Bay today... I was getting good coverage watching in the comfort of my living room. I wasn't sure that I really wanted to battle the traffic and the crowds and how would Moana be at the beach with all those people?
But Moana took a good long nap this morning and we didn't have anything else to do this afternoon and seriously, how could I not go up there and see just a little bit of this epic event in person?
I dressed Moana in her little 'surf's up' outfit, packed our lunches, and headed north. I went the longer way around the perimeter of the island in hopes of avoiding some of the traffic. And it worked! I suppose the traffic would have been worse first thing in the morning, but by the time we arrived at 1:40 it really wasn't so bad. We parked about 2 miles away, I strapped Moana into the BOB, and jogged the rest of the way in. Once we got close though there were too many people and I couldn't actually run anymore. Here's a view of the ocean during the jog to the bay. Seriously- this is the coast we swim along during the summer. Clearly not swimable now!
Here's our first look at the scene at Waimea Bay.
Being there in person was incredible. Those waves are so much scarier live than they appear on film. It's funny, because last night Scott and I were watching some videos online and while I thought the waves were daunting, there was a part of me that was curious about whether or not I could navigate my way through big ocean swells like that. I mean, I'm a good swimmer, and not generally afraid of the ocean. I asked Scott what he thought- he knows me as a swimmer and he knows the ocean when it's big and angry., He said he didn't think I could safely do it. I scoffed at him, more convinced than ever that I could. Well guess what? After seeing that water in person today, I decided that not for a million dollars would I attempt to go in. Nope. I do not want to die.
Anyway, back to the surf! Moana and I settled into a spot in the sand that was actually right near where the surfers were entering and exiting the water for their competition heats! We were thisclose to some of those pro guys! Here are some shots from my camera.
These guys were just about to get in the water for the final heat.
So while it was cool to get to see the surfers up close (and I recognized some of them b/c I'd been watching the live coverage on TV earlier and lots of them had been interviewed already), it was really hard to watch the guys actually surf. The big waves break about a 1/3 of a mile out in the bay, so from the beach, it was hard to actually see. But occasionally we would hear the crowd go 'oooooh' and then you'd see a teeny tiny little guy way off in the distance take off down the face of a huge wave. Sometimes we heard a more urgent 'AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!' and that likely meant the guy took a hard digger. I saw a couple of broken boards- snapped right in half from the force of the heavy water. That's what the lifeguards on jet skis were for- rescuing the guys who were stranded out there after their boards broke. I know there were at least 4 broken boards today. Maybe more.
Anyway, Kelly Slater was winning the whole thing until right at the end when a guy named Greg Long caught a perfect wave and scored really well, leapfrogging himself into 1st place. There was also an award for the biggest 'Monster Drop'. $10,000 for the guy who didn't crash while flying down the face of the biggest wave. This guy from Chile won that prize (picture stolen from quiksilver website).
So in the end, I'm really glad I made the attempt to get up there today! And so was Moana.