March 29, 2010

Eddie Would Go...

Kohl Christensen rides a wave during the first round of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Competition big wave surfing contest on December 8, 2009 in Waimea, Hawaii. Thousands of spectators and surfers are flocking to Hawaii's beaches to see some of the largest waves in the state in half a decade. Forecasters are predicting waves could reach heights of 50 feet.(Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

The image above of Big-Wave surfer Kohl Christensen was shot while on assignment for  Getty Images.  This image ran everywhere.  New York Times, TIME Magazine, Wall Street Journal.  Suffice it to say, I was stoked.

Twenty-eight of the best surfers from around the world plunged board-first into the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational - one of surfing's most prestigious and rarest events - on a Tuesday morning in December of last year.  People from all over the world and across the state of Hawaii flocked to Oahu's north shore in anticipation of this rare surf event.

The last time the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was held was 2004, and the contest itself had only run six times before that in the past 24 years.  This is because the contest requires extremely large waves measuring anywhere from 20ft to 60ft.  But that's enough about "The Eddie" Onto my story...the day before "The Eddie"

It was a Sunday night, and I had received a call Hugh Gentry, a local freelancer and good friend, called me up asking if I would be able to cover for him (He's a stringer for Thompson Reuters, but he had taken a gig from Quiksilver at the time...) because the waves were supposed to be GINORMOUS.  Reuters wanted coverage, and if Hugh had to shoot for Quiksilver, he wouldn't be able to shoot for Reuters.  I called Cory Lum, a good friend and mentor, and asked if he wanted to tag along to the North Shore. (He indicated that he had an interest in going along.)

Just to warn you, dear reader, the photo below the break may be found offensive to some, please do not judge my character, or make rash decisions about me because of this image. :) haha! I kid, Cory. You are a great friend and mentor...not to mention a phenomenal photographer.  As Austo-D would say..."Cory...he's got the Fu!"

More photos after the break...

Good friend and fellow freelance photographer Cory Lum reacts as I make a picture of him. "Whoa Meister! Watch where you point that thing!"
 So Cory and I picked up a friend of mines; John Nakatsu, a fellow student at the University of Hawaii, and we headed out to Waimea. It was 4am, and we were heading out to the North Shore in a dinky gold saturn, armed with only our wits, some photo gear, one poncho and two mugs of coffee.  We were in some serious trouble.  Having driven out to the North Shore many, many, many times while interning at the Honolulu Advertiser, I knew which way would probably be the best way to travel to Waimea: Kahuku.

The nice thing about living on an island is that eventually you'll end up going to the place where you started initially. So if Waimea Bay was my destination, i had two ways of getting there. From Kahuku, or Haleiwa.  Since lots of people were coming from town, i figured that it'd be easy enuff for me to travel the other way and get there with time to spare.

So our intrepid little gang of photographers got there at 4:45am, and parking was already a premium. Parking along all of Kamehameha Highway was already backing up past Shark's cove towards Sunset Beach, and I wasn't about to walk a few miles to make some pictures...especially since I wasn't sure yet if Hugh needed coverage.

People walk along Kamehameha Highway in the early morning in anticipation of the 2009 Quiksilver in the Memory of Eddie Aikau Big-Wave Invitational on December 7, 2009 in Waimea, Hawaii.
It was pretty amazing seeing all the people out and about so early in the morning.  Traffic was basically crawling along Kamehameha Highway from 5am till about 6pm the next day! Yowza!

A surfer walks along Kamehameha Highway towards Waimea Bay for a chance to surf 30 foot waves on December 7, 2009.  The Quiksilver in the Memory of Eddie Aikau Big-Wave Invitational would run the following day.

Jamie O'Brien cuts across a wave at Waimea Bay in Waimea, Hawaii on December 7, 2009 in Waimea Hawaii.
This was shot with the 1Dmk2N and the 200 f2 + 2x Extender.  Making it a 400mm f4.  The lens even with a doubler is sharp...for the most part. Just 400mm isn't long enough for the Eddie.  600mm...better yet...the 800mm is definitely needed.
A surfer watches the waves wash up on shore at Waimea Bay on December 7, 2009.

Beach goers are reflected in the water as they walk along Waimea Beach in Waimea, Hawaii on December 7, 2010.

Kamehameha Highway is gridlocked for foot traffic and auto traffic on December 7, 2009.  The Quiksilver in the Memory of Eddie Aikau Big-Wave Invitational ran the following day, causing another traffic gridlock along Kamehameha Highway.

All in all. It was a fun day.  Got to hang out with Hugh, Cory, John, Scott Morifuji from the Advertiser, and met tons of people at Waimea.  I went home that day, and as i was about to take a nap and make plans to hang out with geena the following day after work.  BUT...Getty called. "Hey Kent, it's Pierce. Think you can cover the eddie for us?"


So, I headed out there with Geena, a ton of gear, a 600mm and 2 hours of sleep.

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