‘Insane’ surfing wipe-outs as Jaws roars
WHEN you have Kelly Slater geeking out over what he's seeing, you know the surf is worth watching.
Iconic surf break Jaws, on the island of Maui in Hawaii, is playing host to the Big Wave Championships and the event was called on this morning as a huge swell arrived.
Russell Bierke, from South Coast, NSW, set the tone on the second wave of the day, tucking into a barrel to record the highest single wave score of round one.
He was one of 12 competitors to make it through to the semis - as others simply tried to survive the wild drop.
"If you're not watching this you should probably stop what you're doing," said Slater, from Oahu where he's contesting the Pipe Masters.
"My boy Russell Bierke … second wave of the event … straight into the barrel. Jamie Mitchell nearly drowned just now and Makuakai Rothman took a big wipe-out pulling in the barrel. Insane start to the morning. Thanks to the water patrol for being on it!"
As this graphic below shows, there's an incredible support team in the water to keep the surfers safe.
"It's as beautiful as it can get and as terrifying as always," competitor Eli Olson said. "It's almost as big as you can paddle (on to the wave). There's going to be some sets today that are too big. It's an amazing day."
Bierke and Olson weren't as lucky in the semis, dropping out of the competition as Hawaiians Kai Lenny, Makuakai Rothman and Ian Walsh became the first three through to a six-man final.
Awesome @Kai_Lenny just won his heat in huge 20 foot plus + waves 🌊 at #Jaws over on #Maui and said on @wsl TV 📺 interview that he was fueled up on @tacobell Bean Burrito 🌯 #TacoBell needs to sponsor this man!!! #HugeWaves #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/5tONoRf9zv— Taizo Braden (@TaizoBraden) December 12, 2019
Nathan Florence dominated the second semi to join them in the decider alongside Billy Kemper and Brazil's Lucas Chianca.