Prestigious group of ocean experts teach life-saving skills to big-wave surfers

Brian Keaulana is sharing his knowledge on how to help people survive in large surf situations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s the risk big wave surfers take when they charge some of the world’s most dangerous waves: Serious injury and sometimes death.

(Image: Amanda Beenen)
(Image: Amanda Beenen)

But there’s a group push to make make big-wave riding as safe as possible.

As surfers push the limits of big-wave surfing, the risks goes up exponentially.

In fact, a handful of very experienced big wave surfers have died pursuing the ocean mountains, including several Hawaii locals.

But now a prestigious group of ocean experts, led by Brian Keaulana, are teaching a comprehensive course that’s making a difference.

It’s called BWRAG: Big Wave Risk Assessment Group.

“For me, it’s second nature to be a lifesaver and a surfer but not too much people know about lifesaving skills,” Keaulana said.

“When you ask a surfer, if you ever assisted or rescued anyone in the ocean, every single surfer will have a story everyone. If they don’t, they just started surfing.”

The group has attracted lifesaving experts from other sports, not only surfing.

“We like to lead things by choice not by chance. That’s what BWRAG’s premise is all about,” Keaulana said. “It’s about education, getting them CPR-certified, bringing them into classes.”

He added that even the most skilled surfers can increase their knowledge.

“The biggest killer is the ego,” Keaulana said. “If you can kill the ego and build humility and try to absorb as much education as possible, that would be the greatest lifesaver you can receive and give.”

The course is now in demand around the world as more big waves are discovered.

“It has gone globally. We’ve taught in Half Moon Bay, Mavericks, Puerto Rico, Australia,” he said. “We’re branching out to Japan, Portugal, Ireland, we’re not divided by land, we’re connected by water.”

“Pushing the Limits” is an ongoing series that explores how surfers are taking on bigger and bigger waves while still living to tell the story.

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