Entire mountain ranges have been rolling across the North Pacific for days now. And as they approach the bay at Waimea, the swells seem to stack upon themselves like a growing line of impatient customers. Watching from the top of the point, the urge is to count the waves piling up and try to determine which of them will be the biggest-which ocean swell will carry one of the competitors to his destiny.
The small ones are still 18-feet, so the spray obscures the gathering horror show outside. Then, out of the mist, the forms of riders appear on waves that seem too steep, and too damn tall, to negotiate on a surfboard.
But it’s been happening for two straight days-perhaps hundreds of seemingly impossible waves made possible by an extremely talented crew of surfing professionals. Yes, there have been a few horrid wipeouts (an occupational hazard), but the poise and control exhibited at the Eddie represents an evolutionary milestone, not only in terms of surfing, but also within the realm of general human athleticism.
Although officially a one-day event, this year’s Eddie provided two days of spectacle-Monday, December 7th 2009, going down as a day of surfing infamy, with waves breaking across the bay under ominous skies, and today’s event showing a cheerier face under bright sun and light offshore breezes. At one point this afternoon, the unspoken feeling was that perhaps the swell had already peaked, as the surf was decidedly calmer for a few hours. And then, as if a switch had been thrown, those stacking sets lined up again, and in neat succession, on three extraordinary waves, Greg Long showed what sustained focus on fitness, equipment, and preparation can yield.
Congratulations, Mr. Long.
Christian Beamish is the former Associate Editor at The Surfer’s Journal