Oahu Hawaii, The Birthplace of Surfing, Still Shreds

May 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Hawaii Culture |

On the island of Oahu, the ancient Polynesian people used their surfing skills to get to market with their fish catch, gain status in the community, and even to mark royalty. The best boards made of the best woods were reserved for the king, and the royal family had their own private beaches. King Kamehameha was noted as a fantastic surfer. When Captain James Cook and his crew arrived at the islands in 1778, they saw people surfing on large, heavy boards and described it in amazed, glowing accounts.

Today the island’s beaches boast nearly one hundred fifty surfing spots, ranging from the gentle waves of central Honolulu’s Queen’s to the immense and dangerous swells of the North Shore’s Banzai Pipeline. Surfing shops, teachers, lessons, and classes line the shores of the island to take advantage of these pristine conditions. Learning surfing in its birthplace can be an experience bordering on religious, even for the timid on the smallest curls. One of the appeals of Oahu is the wide range of options it offers to surfers of all levels of expertise.

For the pros, Oahu is the site of some of the biggest and most renowned surfing competitions. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the world’s top championship for big-wave surfing, is held on Oahu’s vaunted North Shore. The first event is the ODP Pro, held at Alii Beach in Waimea Bay. Sunset Beach hosts the second event for men, the O’neil World Cup of Surfing, while the Roxy Pro for women is held at Sunset Beach. For the final women’s event the competitors move to Maui for the Billabong Pro at Honolua bay. The Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters is the final men’s event, held at the Banzai Pipeline – one of the most dangerous surfing spots on Earth.

Also held in Waimea Bay on the North Shore is the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, which is only held when the waves are twenty feet or higher, usually in mid-winter.

Though prizes run most often in the $10,000-$250,000 range, these competitions can net up to $815,000 for the champion – not to mention the corporate sponsorships, promotions, and even TV and movie work.

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More importantly, they test the skill, balance, and sheer athleticism of thousands of surfers every year, and give spectators a chance to see the Sport of Kings played in a truly spectacular, breathtaking setting. 

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