I remember my first surf trip to the North Shore of Oahu during the winter of 2002/2003 like it was yesterday. I had enough graduation units to take the winter quarter off at UC Irvine. I was competing in body boarding that year as an amateur and it had always been a dream of mine to take the challenge of the North Shore.
I traveled solo, but several body boarders that I knew from competition were staying at the same place I was. As well as several local guys from Orange County.
I’ll cut right to the chase. It was 6-8 ft. Hawaiian size and the swell was building. I stood on the shore watching these massive waves of water rolling in. I was hesitant to paddle out. It was definitely out of my league. All the boys were in the water and I felt I had to prove myself.
I made it out to the lineup and it was scarily intense. This set came rolling in from the outside reef. I was in perfect position and everyone was yelling for me to go. So I went. It was by far the biggest and most powerful wave I ever experienced. I dropped immediately into the barrel and got shot out like a cannon. The wave down the line was beginning to look like a wall. I tried going over the top of the wave, but that wasn’t smart. The lip of the wave threw me into the air and I free fell ten feet into the jagged reef knee first. Boom!
The adrenaline was going so the impact on the reef didn’t hurt, but my knee was warm and I could feel the blood pouring out of my knee. I was being tossed around under water like a washing machine. As the wave passed, I tried swimming to the surface, but I couldn’t. My board was caught up on the reef and I could see underwater the next wave coming. I braced for impact. The next wave rag dolled me around and knocked my board loose. I washed up on shore as the lifeguard came running to me.