"waves are not measured in feet and inches, but in increments of fear." — buzzy trent, big wave surfing pioneer
pe’ahi, known colloquially as jaws, is home to one of the largest surf breaks in the world, with waves reaching heights of sixty feet (some even twice that). before laird hamilton (third photo) came up with tow in surfing, this reef break, located on maui’s north shore, was inaccessible to surfers.
when wiping out at places like jaws, where the water is deep, a breaking wave can push fallen surfers fifty feet below the surface, causing their eardrums to burst from the water pressure. they also risk drowning from oncoming waves crashing down on them before they can reorient themselves from the violent underwater spinning and swim to the surface for air.
you can watch garrett mcnamara (second and seventh photos), who in january of 2013 surfed a record setting 98 foot wave at nazare, talk about how scared he was to first surf jaws, and how he caught his most memorable wave there. (he also explains how the toilet helps him surf better.)
photos by (click pic) the sixth element, ron dahlquist, diego velasco, andrew chisholm, sean hower, an eagle in your mind, david pu’u, sofie louca, mark healey waterman and fred pompermayer. (previous surfing posts)