"Death is a stone’s throw away, always, but to realise that. I was overwhelmed. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life.
The carrot-topped king of Pipeline and sad-eyed degenerate Jamie O’Brien, who is forty, has reprised his near-death at the Waimea Bay rivermouth from last winter.
Do you remember?
The famous Waimea River had become swollen like never before following wild rains (climate change, non-use of recycling bins, driving cars with internal combustion engines etc) and locals had opened it up to create the biggest rivermouth waves ever seen.
Jamie tried to ride it only to be sucked out to sea and when he eventually returned he said he’d almost died.
“Gnarliest experience ever…I got sucked into the vortex of all vortexes!”
Now, in a piece to camera on YouTube, O’Brien has taken his one million fans back to that terrible day.
“I knew that it was going to be the biggest river wave ever ridden. It was sending me everywhere. I was like, ‘Don’t fall on this, Jamie. Don’t fall.’ I couldn’t control my board, and I honestly just fell right back. It’s like a 10 or 12 foot wave, and it sucked me back. Then there was another wave, and it was just as big, and I’m like, ‘oh my god. I’m gonna die. My leash is gonna break. I’m in a very bad spot.
“That wave just tumbles me, and tumbles me, and tumbles me…then, boom. It lets me out where the river meets the ocean. And the [ocean] waves were 15 feet. Huge Waimea. Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t even know where I am. I pop up in the middle of Waimea Bay, 300 yards out in the middle of the ocean and the waves are 15 feet. Not a good idea.”
Dying in novelty waves is a speciality for O’Brien. Five years ago, he almost perished among rocks at Waikiki during a one-foot swell.
Fooling around in Waikiki, Jamie was examining an interesting rock on a breakwall and “stating the obvious,” says Jamie, “I turned my back on the ocean. Honestly, I had put my hand up in front of my face at the last second and I face-planted into my hand. It almost knocked me out just hitting my hand. I almost died at one-foot Waikiki. I almost died at one-foot Waikiki. Frick. I got so lucky.
“I was thinking about it a lot. You do all this crazy shit your whole career, crazy waves, sitting yourself on fire, and you almost die at one-foot Waikiki. Death is a stone’s throw away, always, but to realise that. I was overwhelmed. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life. I still trip out when I watch the clip. That night, I was laying in bed, thinking, that I almost died at Waikiki. Literally.”
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