There is a wave in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean that is trying to remain undiscovered. Although it sits at the tip of an inhabited island chain, completely exposed to pacific swell, it has only shown its face to a handful of surfers. I consider myself very fortunate to be one of the few that have witnessed firsthand the beauty of this wave. I feel even m
ore honored to have been able to feel the raw power of this sleeping giant in all her glory, twice.
To the best of our boat Captain’s knowledge, it was unnamed when we surfed it for the first time last year. He hadn’t seen it resting there on numerous trips to this zone when looking for potential surf spots. It didn’t stand out on countless Google Earth searches or look appealing on any navigation charts. The coconut wireless among surf charter captains hadn’t revealed her existence despite several known explorations through these waters. It was a shock to everyone on the boat the first time we witnessed the wave riffle down the reef.
The swell was 10 feet with offshore winds that initial session. Later in the evening, the Captain said it was one of the best waves he had ridden in all his years of surf exploration. For 3 guys from Oregon, it had been a day that forever changed our surfing lives. What we didn’t realize at the time however, was just how lucky we had been.
The Captain didn’t see another day like that again the rest of last season. In fact, he had only seen glimpses of the giant once prior to our arrival late in the swell window this year. Unfavorable winds, as it turns out, is the predominate direction this time of year. There had been good swell most of the season, but poor winds had forced the boat to travel to more protected but less quality breaks. As we boarded the boat, the Captain was already talking about not coming back to these islands next winter. The conditions are just not consistent enough to make it worth running charters. Everyone’s heart sank with the realization we may not get to see this wave again.
Over a week into the trip, the conditions hadn’t allowed us to make our way to the reef pass I had been dreaming about for the past year. We had caught some fun waves, but the understanding of why the Captain was canceling coming here was becoming apparent. Then a small break in the winds began to appear on the forecast. We started the 10 hour boat ride to the tip of the islands and hoped the conditions cooperated long enough to clean up the waves.
We pulled up to the pass and quickly realized that it’s going to take longer than our short window of good conditions to groom the wave. The swell was 8 feet, and the wave was working, but the face still remained tattered after weeks of wind. We sat there for a while but didn’t see anything close to what the wave could produce. Instead of a barreling freight train from the take-off spot to the channel, it was a slopping face with some slight cross-chop. It still looked fun and some of the crew jumped in and started trading waves. I waited a few extra minutes then jumped on the dingy to head over. I made my way to the line-up just as a new set appeared on the horizon. A couple of the guys took off on the first two waves, leaving me alone for the third. I dropped in and grabbed my rail. I quickly realized that this wave was going to stand-up more than anything we had seen. The lip threw over my head and I could see the wall in front of me start to curl up. The giant had awoken for a few moments, to say hi to a familiar face, and give me the wave of a lifetime.
As the wall curled over my head, I could see my friend Neill scramble to duck dive through the wave after being caught inside. Nobody expected a wave of this size to come through. He let out a hoot of approval just as he dove under water and I came flying by. I continued to hold on as the wave opened up further. It hit the reef so perfectly that I had no doubt that it wasn’t going to let me out. Not a drop of water hit my head as I left the barrel and floated into the channel. I could hear the screams from the boat and the line-up. It was as good as or better than any wave I had here last year. It was to be the only wave like this the rest of the trip. In fact, very few barrels were even on offer. The giant went back into hibernation.
With no more charter boat operations servicing this area, or hotel and housing accommodations offered, no mention in surf reports or guides, the wave will remain sleeping. When the conditions align, and the wave comes back to life, only a select few will even know that it’s there. I am stoked that I will be one of those people. I guarantee that I will be staring at the weather maps, wondering just how good it is, thankful that for a few moments, I got to experience it when it was awake.