A big day at Waimea Bay

surfer Ian Masterson
surfer Ian Masterson
Raymond Orange
Raymond Orange

By Ramsay Wharton – bio | email

NORTH SHORE, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - Under the light of the vog red moon early this morning, evidence of the Winter's first big swell on Oahu was visible with water splashed across Kamehameha highway at Laniakea surf spot on the North Shore.

Then dawn at Waimea bay, mother nature revealed herself.

"Pretty impressive," said Jenni Worrell of Illinois. "This is the second time I've been out here and seen these. So it never gets old."

"We waited almost a half and hour to paddle out, because there was set after set after set, said surfer Ian Masterson, who's also known as "The Surfing Professor." "People coming in with broken boards and swimming in, without boards before the lifeguards came on duty," he added.

Waves over 15 feet continued to peak through lunchtime, with a high surf warning remaining in effect for North and West facing shores until 6'oclock tomorrow morning.

Surfers jockeyed for rides, causing a few accidents.

Masterson noted, "It's a pretty respectful lineup out there."

There were even some near misses on shore.

Lifeguards let loose on the bull horns along the shoreline after surf washed up on a family with young children at shore.

"Everyone needs to take a big step backwards," said one unidentified lifeguard at Waimea Bay.

Another man was told to get off the popular jumping rock.

"Climb down the jump rock, right now. That is a dangerous area," the lifeguard said.

Then at 8-30 things got intense when ocean safety and Honolulu Fire Department's rescue crews scoured the waters following the report of a possible missing body surfer.

Raymond Orange had watched the man along the shoreline just minutes before he disappeared from his sight.

"He was duck diving under and then five minutes later we just couldn't see him anymore," said Orange. "He had drifted quite a way out."

A half hour later, Peter Mellicino of Makaha was towed in on the back of an Ocean Safety jetski, without without his swim fins. He apologized to rescuers for the scare but Mellicino said he never ran into trouble.

"I was making my way across so I could get the attention of surfers," said Mellicino. "That's about it."

Nonetheless, his wife who'd been crying along with his new baby and toddler, were relieved that he was safe, sound and good to go.

But unfortunately, the highly anticipated Eddie Aikau Big Wave Contest was not good to go.

"Its not good enough for the Eddie," said Eddie Aikau Contest Director, George Downing. "The average wave that's been coming in between 15 and 18 feet. In order to have Waimea exciting for the professionals you have to have 20 foot and above."

Downing shared a local wives tale regarding the high surf which hasn't been great this Fall.

"When the mangoes start blossoming you can expect a good season," said Downing. "And this year the blossoming of the mangoes were very late. So we're gonna have a late season."

Like they always say, the "Bay Calls the Day," but even though its a no go for the Eddie, it didn't stop lots of people from coming and checking out the high surf at Waimea. And seemed to benefit alot? Well, the local surfers, of course.

I asked surfer Alex Roitman with Ono Yo Hawaii if he was disappointed to hear that the Eddie's was no go this year. He responded and laughed, "Not really cause you can surf, yeah."

Masterson was confident Eddie officials made the right call.

"The kona vog was very, very strong, so we couldn't even see the horizon, tenative, even when to jump in the water," he said. "There were still 20 foot sets out there early, early on. It's was a good though, not to hold the Eddie for sure."

In the end, the news didn't keep traffic and visitors from coming to the North Shore. Which is always good news for area businesses.

Downing expressed, no worries. Because the Eddie holding period goes thru February. And we've just started the New Year.

"For the three months, December, January and February...January is the best month!" he exclaimed.

"Waves all around the island," said Masterson grateful. "And give thanks for more to come."

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