How high were the waves on Oahu’s North Shore this week?

“The biggest swell in 40 years,” trumpeted The Guardian.

“Very, very huge,” proclaimed Honlolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Up to 70 feet, reported Hawaii News Now.

Perhaps as tall as any in the last half-century, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

How high were they?

On Monday, the first of two epic swells swamped oceanfront homes and beach parks, and forced the closure of the entire highway between Haleiwa and Turtle Bay.

Crews clean up sand and debris along Kamehameha Highway near Sunset Beach, North Shore.
Crews clean up sand and debris along Kamehameha Highway near Sunset Beach on Monday. Eventually, the highway was completely shut down. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

But the true measure of how memorable the surf was this week came with the second swell, which allowed organizers of the highly irregularly scheduled Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau to hold the first installment of the big wave surf contest since 2009.

Hundreds of people swarmed to Waimea Bay on Thursday to watch some of the world’s top surfers free-fall from almost impossible heights after getting separated from their boards.

Words really couldn’t describe the spectacle, but that didn’t stop tweeters and Instagrammers from trying.

How capitvating was the death-defying contest?

Hawaii News Now reported that so many people were live-streaming the event that Internet service was slow around the islands.

At Damien Memorial School in Kalihi, according to the same report, teachers locked bathroom doors so students couldn’t sneak in and watch the surfing on their smartphones.

Perhaps the cyber slowdown explained why Civil Beat’s Anthony Quintano never responded to one of his editor’s texting and emailing. He remained incognito on the North Shore, but did return with this video:

Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational February 2016Video highlights from the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational held at Waimea Bay on Thursday, February 25, 2016. #EddieWouldGo Video by Anthony Quintano

Posted by Civil Beat on Friday, February 26, 2016


Ultimately, some of the Waimea Bay gladiators defied Mother Nature’s wrath and stayed on their boards, including John John Florence of Haleiwa, who won the $75,000 first place award and bragging rights probably worth a lot more.

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