Oahu’s North Shore braces for pandemonium as “Eddie-sized swell” makes way toward Waimea Bay!

Yellow alert.

While the World Surf League is busy actively destroying professional surfing just up the road, one of the world’s most premium events has flipped the light to yellow. Yes, the fabled Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is a possible go in the very near future as an “Eddie-sized swell” is steaming toward Waimea.

Last year, as you certainly recall, the “Super Bowl of Surfing,” which is only contested when waves in the bay tower over 40 ft, was won by Luke Shepardson. The on-duty lifeguard crafted a legend that is still reverberating.

“In building twenty-to-thirty-foot surf, Luke Shepardson, twenty-seven, who started the morning by clocking in to his gig as a North Shore lifeguard, took a few hours off work and by day’s end had beaten the most stacked field in the event’s history,” Derek Rielly wrote at the time. “Apart from defending champ John John Florence, who finished second, Shepardson outsurfed big-wave world champs Makua Rothman and Billy Kemper, both surprise competitors after suffering injuries at the Backdoor Shootout, Kai Lenny, Zeke Lau, Grant Baker, Ross Clarke-Jones and so on.”

A blue collar hero was born.

The North Shore, though, may not be ready for such a quick reprise. The Eddie has only run ten times since its inception in 1984. If we apply our math(s) skills, that is an average of once every four years.


This year’s field is as stacked as last year’s with Jack Robinson, Kelly Slater and the aforementioned Shepardson joining a who’s who of big wave names.

A quick question, though. Do you think The Eddie organizers might be eyeing the “global home of surfing” with the possibility of calling it off if it gets too good?

Let’s hope not.

More as the story develops.

Austin Gibbons injured at Pipeline
The New York surfer Austin Gibbons and, inset, messages from pals.

Life of New York surfer Austin Gibbons found unresponsive at Pipeline on day deemed too big for Lexus Pipe Pro saved by off-duty lifeguards

Lifeguards gave Austin Gibbons “several cycles of CPR before he finally regained a pulse.”

Three days days back, the popular New York surfer Austin Gibbons was rushed to intensive care after being found unconscious on a day deemed too big, and too unsafe for the world’s best surfers competing in the Lexus Pipe Pro.

In a statement, Honolulu Ocean Safety said a 25-year-old surfer had been found unresponsive early Monday evening and just after the lifeguards had split for the day.

“But lifeguards were still in the parking lot and were alerted by beachgoers that they were needed. Surfers helped get the man close to shore and brought him in the sand with lifeguards. Lifeguards began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and after several cycles of CPR, the surfer regained a pulse… Honolulu EMS provided advanced life-saving treatment and transported the man to an area emergency room in critical condition.”

Austin Gibbons’ mom, Christine, flew from New York to Oahu to be by her son’s side, a kid who moved to the North Shore in January to chase his dream of becoming a North Shore lifeguard.

“He had been on a surfboard since he was two years old,” said Christine Gibbons. “Since he could walk.”

Christine said the family had been “overwhelmed” with support from the surfing community.

“I truly believe he is mentally and physically strong enough to fight and that we can get through this,” she said.

It’s been a wild season for injuries at Pipeline, this the sixth serious injury since December.

Also sidelined were, world number four Joao Chianca, Tahitian kingpin Eimeo Czermak, Pipe regular Koa Rothman and Peruvian shredder Joaquin Del Castillo.

Autistic surfer makes jaw-dropping cameo at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch

“His level of focus in the wave is incredible," says Kelly Slater, "he makes instant natural connections with the water.”

The Maui-born goofy-footer Clay Marzo has made a stunning appearance at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch in Lemoore, thrilling onlookers which may or may not have included Human Viagra Raimana Van Bastolaer with “double-jointed” turns and layback tuberiding.

Marzo, who is thirty-four, has been described as “a guru born in the barrel” (CJ Hobgood), “one of the best tube riders and all around surfers in the world with an incredibly entertaining and radical approach” (Shane Beschen) and “He knows things I don’t know. He knows things that all the guys I’m surfing with don’t know.” (Kelly Slater, creator of the Surf Ranch.)

Laird Hamilton, also from Maui, calls Marzo “an artist who can’t be pigeon-holed. He’s something all together different that should be cherished.”

Interestingly, it was the surf writer and filmer Jamie Tierney, the director of Marzo’s 2007 signature film Just Add Water, who convinced his mama the then eighteen year old should see a doc.

“My parents are both psychologists,” Tierney said. “I could tell he was more than a typical teenager… Almost everyone has had to deal with something like this. Let’s talk about Asperger’s but not as disease or a disability. Clay Marzo is so good because he has Asperger’s, not in spite of it. His level of focus in the wave is incredible, he makes instant natural connections with the water, something very few people have.”

Eight years ago, Marzo and his mama were stiffed for $400,000 by their crooked bookkeeper, who would serve three years for the crime.

Here, at Surf Ranch, Clay Marzo shows a little of that old magic.

Top tier pro surfer reveals first ever successful backhand tube made during Pipe Pro!

Hope springs!

You and I might have once harbored dreams of becoming professional surfers. Oh we were much younger then, of course, maybe twelve or thirteen when anything seemed possible including, but not limited to, space travel, financial literacy, being chaired up the beach after posting three perfect tens.

Alas, real life crept in and we realized our boggy bottom turns and mistimed lip hits would never get us to the top.

But might hope spring?

Yesterday’s running of the Lexus Pipe Pro, wherein the women were trotted out to face “aggressively mediocre” waves, was mostly a shameful indictment of the World Surf League. Except, heat 6 of the opening round delivered a gem that will buoy even the grumpiest of locals. For, there, Sawyer Linblad defeated Johanne Defay and Lakey Peterson in part thanks to her first ever completed backside barrel.

(3:27:30 if not already teed up.)


The Championship Tour, you well know, is as high as a professional surfer can climb and imagine being able to reach the peak without the ability to weave a back footed tube. Might you, too, be able to make it without a wrap-around snap in the trick bag? Might I be able to without a fully developed cutback?

Our aspirations alive once again.

David Lee Scales and I did not, anyhow, discuss the power of dreams but we did rake Filipe Toledo over more room temperature coals.

Never enough.


Chas Smith says, “How dare you criticise Filipe Toledo! He wasn’t scared!”

An examination of the psychology behind the surf fans and journalists who defend the indefensible.

Much brouhaha and many wound lickings over the past few days following two-time world champ Filipe Toledo’s withdrawal from Lexus the Pipe Pro.

After a wildly lacklustre first heat of the season, Filipe Toledo quit the event blaming food poisoning.

Per JP’s report,

The night is darkest just before the dawn, wrote Thomas Fuller in 1650 (or words to that effect). But for Filipe Toledo, incumbent world champion, even the brightest new days are shrouded in a lingering dusk.

Our double asterisked world champion is out of the season opener, the Lexus Pipe Pro, almost before it has begun, and certainly before he’d surfed any wave of substance.

1.77 for two waves was all he could muster to begin his 2024 campaign. Made to look even more foolish by Sammy Pupo and Shion Crawford, both of whom notched solid waves, Filipe Toledo whimpered off to the elimination round then threw in the towel without attempting to remain in the competition.

Illness was cited, and illness is surely the reason, if we accept this as a euphemism for the deep roots of fear that claw at Filipe Toledo’s soul when waves become consequential.

In today’s episode of Chas Smith Hates Surfing, and using a half-charged microphone that renders most of it intelligible, the noted author examines the psychological makeup of journalists and surf fans who defend the indefensible.

“Is their thinking that they’re going to endear themselves to that person, become friends somehow, become pals later on, because you went on to Instagram and said, ‘He wasn’t afraid, he gave it his best. Good job Filipe.’ Why can’t we critical? Why can’t we be critical and honest? Has the west lost its ability to think critical about stuff? Why can’t we say there is something wrong? That there is some critical element to his game that needs to be addressed and fixed!”