Page 20 - Surftime Magazine Vol.24

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NORTH SHORE:
BETWEEN THE LINES
All photos by Pete Frieden
From the Encyclopedia of Surfing:
W
orld-renowned stretch of Hawaiian
coastline located on the north side of
Oahu; the undisputed capital of big-wave
surfing from the 1950s to the early ‘90s;
home to about 40 surf breaks, many of
them hallowed. “If the surfing world has
a shared mythology,” American essayist
William Finnegan wrote in 1997, “then the
North Shore of Oahu is its Olympus.”
What surfers know as the North Shore be-
gins at the town of Haleiwa and runs east
for seven miles to Sunset Beach. North
Shore breaks include Haleiwa, Laniakea,
Off the Wall, Rocky Point, Velzyland, Pipe-
line, Waimea Bay, Sunset beach. These
last three are among the world’s best-
known surf spots. Pipeline for its explod-
ing tubes, Waimea for its fearsome size,
Sunset for its consistency and complexity.
The power of the North Shore surf, com-
bined with shallow reefs, crowded lineups
(pressuring surfers to try marginal waves),
and near-constant surf media presence
(encouraging them to take star-making
risks), makes this the most dangerous surf
area in the world. About 30 surfers have
died on the North Shore since the early
1960s, and hundreds more have been se-
verely injured.
Waimea was ridden for the first time in
1957 by a group of California surfers in-
cluding Greg Noll, Mickey Muñoz, and Pat
Curren. California’s Phil Edwards is credit-
ed as the first to ride Pipeline, in 1961. Surf
movies and surf magazines were by that
time filled with images shot on the North
Shore; the cover of the first issue of Surfer,
published in 1960, showed Jose Angel of
Hawaii dropping into a huge Sunset Beach
peak. The annual winter surfer migration
to the North Shore began in earnest in the
late ‘50s, with dozens of mainland wave-
hunters renting houses and staying for
weeks, even months, at a time, and the
number of visitors increased steadily over
the years. Crowded lineups have been
a problem on the North Shore since the
early ‘60s, and by the early ‘70s local surf-
ers were using organized intimidation and
violence to secure waves for themselves.
A legacy that continues three-fold today.
Big-wave surfing, pushed to the back-
ground in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, roared
back in 1983, and North Shore big-wave
riders like Mark Foo, Ken Bradshaw, Dar-
rick Doerner and Brock Little became surf
world icons. Laird Hamilton and Buzzy
Kerbox, along with Doerner, invented tow-
in surfing on the North Shore in 1992. Dun-
geons in South Africa, along with Maver-
ick’s, Todos Santos and Cortes Bank have
broken up the North Shore’s big-wave
monopoly, while Indonesia with its perfect
waves has replaced the North Shore as the
ultimate surf destination. But this relatively
short piece of coastline is still the sports
greatest showcase. World champions are
crowned here in December, giant waves
are ridden throughout the winter and no
other surf zone in the world can match the
North Shore for intensity on land as well
as the sea.
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