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Looking Back at the Swell of the Summer

South Shore Swell Of The Summer

Mason & Michael Ho surfing Ala Moana Bowl on the South Shore of Oahu

It’s been a little over a week since the biggest swell in years lit up the south coasts of Hawaii’s various islands, and now that the mist has settled we have the opportunity to look back and consider everything that happened.

Here on Oahu, the swell was so big and south that many spots that are normally epic weren’t working at all. At the same time, other reefs that are normally close-outs saw rifling, 6- to 8-foot barrels! 😱 Bowls was big, of course, as were many spots in the Ala Moana and Waikiki area, but some of the most exciting sessions went down at spots that we don’t normally see break, including a mysto big wave spot near the airport that saw 8- to 10-foot sets surfed by a handful of the North Shore’s best big wave crew.

Kelis Kaleopaa Surfing at South Shore Oahu

Photo Credit to Kelis Kaleopaa

Reports from the outer islands were stellar as well, with rare gems lighting up on the Big Island and Maui. Interestingly, though, Maalaea didn’t end up breaking, disappointing the local crew who was likely hoping to surf “the world’s fastest right-hander” on this once-per-decade swell.

Of course, the big story of this swell wasn’t here in Hawaii, but in Tahiti five days earlier, where one of the biggest tow sessions in history went down in impeccable conditions. While the jury is still out whether this swell was as big as the Code Red swell in 2011, most people agree that Matahi Drollet’s behemoth was the biggest, best successful barrel ride ever at Chopes. Kauli Vast also towed a psycho mutant that went absolutely bonkers on the reef, but ended up getting smoked by the end section for a harrowing trip over the falls.

The footage from the swell in Tahiti was what mobilized all of us here in Hawaii to prepare for the swell, so by the time it hit Oahu, it was one of the most hyped forecasts in recent years. Most people agree that the swell lived up to the hype, and by the time the last remnants had faded away, most people were surfed out.

But for those who still had some froth (and who were paying attention), there was another hype-worthy swell on the forecast. This one was from Hurricane Linda, which was on course to pass Hawaii to the east a few days after the south swell, bringing big hurricane swell and great wind. Unfortunately, this time the swell didn’t live up to the hype. The storm downgraded by the time it got to Hawaii, and also took an unfavorable track, essentially running over Oahu and creating victory-at-sea conditions for most of the island.

Kaniela Steward surfing South Shore Hawaii

Photo Credit to Kaniela Stewart

Since then, things have settled down rather quickly. The North Shore is back to its normal, flat summer self, while the South Shore is in the midst of a decent run of small, fun surf—pretty typical for late August. Coming into September, it’s difficult to know what we are going to get. September is often a transition month, so it could see a few early season north swells, a few late season souths, both of them, or none of the above! As of now, the forecast is looking pretty quiet for the Country well into the first half of the month, while Town might enjoy a solid, long-period swell around September 9. That’s all still a long ways out though, so for now we suggest you enjoy the small, fun swells breaking in the Ala Moana/Waikiki area, or do some flat-water paddling and diving if you are up north. Either way, stay wet and enjoy the ocean!


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