Maui Surf

World’s Best Paddle Jaws for 2 Days in a Row

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By Carlos Rock

Jaws right looking from the left really shows the size of the wave. Photo: Kottke

All of the best big wave surfers in the world and the Maui crew were ready for the early season massive NW swell that awoke Jaws for the first time this winter.

Tuesday (10/9) dawned with glassy conditions to make for an incredible paddle session for the surfers on hand at the best big wave in the world, Jaws or its Hawaiian name Pe’ahi.

Surfers were calling it one of the best days of riding big waves in the history of surfing. Others were calling it a dream come true to be able to ride Jaws while it is glassy.

The glassy conditions were welcomed with open arms because it eliminates the usual difficulty of trying to paddle in while it is windy, making for one of the most difficult drop ins in the surfing world.

The swell was forecasted to stick around until the next day before dropping which made for another historical paddle day on Wednesday (10/10). However, the dream-like glassy conditions were replaced with windy peaks thanks to the return of trade winds.

Nonetheless, guys were still charging.

Maui’s Albee Layer west bowl bound. Photo: Mike Neal

Maui’s own Albee Layer packed a massive tube on a massive wave on Tuesday afternoon.

The thing about Jaws is that is a essentially a perfect wave, but just on a massive scale. It is an A-frame peak and the left and right are ride-able. The right is a peak and then an insane barrel section.

The wave breaks on the peak and then peels down the line on the right for about 200 yards until it hits the west bowl end section. Imagine if Jaws was just a regular wave that broke more often and didn’t have to be 30 feet to break, it would be a perfect wave.

To have two days in a row of being able to surf 20-30 ft Jaws is extremely rare, and having it happen so early in the season, and produce exceptional glassy conditions the first day was really another historical day in surfing.

The boundaries of paddling into big waves are being broken with each and every paddle session, and here is why.

Maui-grown big wave surfer Ian Walsh explained that the big wave game is changing because guys are riding big waves now more than ever before.

Surfers traveled from all over the world. Greg Long, stoked he made the trip with a Jaws beauty. Photo: Pompermeyer

Not only were guys riding the waves and just going straight, but also they were successfully completing waves and even getting barreled.

However, with guys pushing the limits, the risk becomes that much greater. With incredible rides going down, there was plenty of punishment going around. You basically had to pay to play. The worst wipeout of your life also goes hand-in-hand with the best wave of your life.

Shane Dorian from the Big Island changed the game for the better by inventing the airbag flotation device. It is basically an airbag/life vest that you can inflate by pulling a tab when you get pounded in the huge surf and it brings you up to the surface immediately.

That invention has single handedly made riding these giant waves safer for everyone, but you must be invited to possess one of the airbags. They don’t want everyone to be able to buy one and paddle out at Jaws.

Many Maui residents lined the cliffs, as they were all witness to some of the best waves ever ridden. Many of the Maui boys were out there too with their 10-foot boards just trying to get a good one.

There were many guys out at Jaws during this swell. It is safe to say that everyone got good ones, and everyone made it back to shore safely.

Until next time Jaws, and with the El Nino conditions expected to sustain the rest of the winter, we will most likely see you again.


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