It's winter time and the waves are pumping in Hawaii! Along with the arrival of the Humpback whales, who breach and displace masses of water, so do the winter waves on our Northshores.
As one may guess, surfing goliath waves have been dominated by watermen legends of the likes of Eddie Aikau, Greg Noll, & Laird Hamilton for years. But don't underestimate the surging scene of waterwoman who are just as brave and also risking their lives for the thrill of surfing big waves. In the past few years, Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly, and our team rider Andrea Moller, have been making a name for themselves in the big wave surfing scene. For example, check out Paige Alms historic Barrel ride at Jaws recently!
There's also an underground scene of surfer girls that shouldn't go unnoticed. Maui women like our Brazilian powerhouse instructor Kiki Martins just towed into Jaws two weeks ago and has charged Maui's big waves for the past decade. Another Maui Brazilian surfer girl, Maria Souza, was married to Laird Hamilton when he pioneered Jaws in the 90s. She was the first woman to tow surf Jaws. Maria also partnered with Andrea Moller to become the first female tow team at Jaws in 2005/6.
I've also had some mind-blowing Maui tow surf adventures with Andrea and Maria at Jaws, Pier One, and Spartans from 2004-2010. We all do it not for the recognition, photos on Facebook and Surfline.com, but we do it for the pure rush. Just recently this photo was taken of Maui's outer reefs lighting up from off-shore southwinds from a Kona storm. This is as good as it gets for tow surfing!
Last week in the aftermath of our Kona storm, Andrea and I towed "Spartans" for the first time in 4 years! I was reminded of the powerful rush of adrenyline that surfing big waves can produce. My favorite aspect of tow surfing is how it becomes a team sport. Since tow surfing involves a jet ski and a surfer, you learn how to communicate wave selection with your tow surfer, timing rescues in frothy whitewater, and watching each others back in massive surf. I think it takes mad courage to be out in 15-30 foot waves with or without a jet ski assist -- I respect both paddle surfing and tow surfing equally.
On Friday, Andrea whipped me into some of the biggest waves I've caught this winter. Despite being sick with a cold and hacking up my lungs, I couldn't allow a measly cold prevent me from surfing mammoth waves with my old tow partner. It's so hard to coordinate busy schedules now, but in between Andrea picking up her daughter from school and my dogs vet appointment, we could only indulge in this beautiful outer reef ocean playground for a couple hours. What a tease!
When we arrived at Spartans, there was only one tow team with perfect 10-15 foot off-shore barrels pealing in. Literally our jaws dropped, as you can see from our selfie in the channel of "Spartans".
I love how this photo really shows how the waves lifts out of the horizon when a big set rolls in. We took turns for the next two hours whipping each other in to some hefty clean waves. Tow-surfing together tested my jet ski driving skills (I was rusty after 4 years not driving a ski!) & after whipping Andrea into the 3rd wave, I started figuring out the timing, placement, and rescuing skills of driving the ski. It almost feels like a video game, zig zagging and accelerating through massive walls of white water, searching for the channels to get back out to the waves forming on the outer reefs.
Hopefully I'll be luckily enough to tow surf with the underground Northshore Brazilian chargers Andrea, Kiki, and Maria Souza again! It's been some of the best surfing experiences of my life and I'm forever grateful for all I've learned from these three Brazilian waterwomen.
I'm so proud of our Maui surfer girls, representing women big wave riders. We are paving the way for future generations of big wave surfer girls! Keep your eyes on that swelling horizon for women bravely dropping down the face of some goliath waves globally!
Photo Credits: Jimmie Hepp, Pataorazzi, Hugo Valente, Andrea Moller