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Monday, December 7, 2009
Updated: June 15, 11:23 AM ET
A Day of Infamy


All the drama of the world's most famous big-wave stage.

Tonight Mark Healey, Greg Long and Grant "Twiggy" Baker sat together at Lei Lei's at Turtle Bay. Their table was relatively quiet. They breezed through their meal, paid the check, and made a hasty exit. Considering what transpired today at Waimea, and what they could be in store for tomorrow, their focused demeanor makes sense.

At sunrise today there was a very good possibility the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau was going to run. But the much-hyped northwest swell that we've all been waiting for arrived a little mixed up, and brought some funky winds with it. By 7:00am organizers had called the event off for the day. Undeterred, contest or not, some of the world's most renowned big-wave surfers took to the lineup.

Shane Dorian and Tom Carroll share a chuckle as they crest a 20-footer. Less than an hour later Tom snapped his ankle.

Shane Dorian, Bruce Irons, Jamie O' Brien, Ross Clarke-Jones, and of course, Healey, Twiggy and Greg were among the 50-plus guys that utilized the reprieve from the contest to "warm up." Others weren't as fortunate. Twiggy snapped his prized 9'6" and was relegated to the beach early. But when Tom Carroll's ankle broke like a chicken bone everybody became astutely aware of the consequences.

"He got to the bottom of a thick, ledgy one and got flexed," described Healey. "I was out this morning for about two and a half hours, but Twiggy reminded me to hang back and relax, that we had another 48 hours to go."

"Usually you go into the Eddie cold. You don't get a chance to dial in your boards or prepare properly, but we've had a few sessions out at the Bay already, and that makes a big difference," explained Reef McIntosh, who was posted up next to Healey. "It's terrible what happened to Tom today. This is the kind of day that bad things like that can happen."

Erecting the nerve center.

By day's end the conditions had cleaned up considerably. Shane Dorian told Tom Servais that he paddled into the biggest wave he's ever ridden at the Bay, and word is that had it not been for the lifeguards and their waverunners a couple of guys could have found themselves in a world of hurt.

But it might have been Chile's Ramon Navaro that captured the trepidation of the moment best. This morning I asked him if he'd been out yet. "No," he said, "I have one brand new, beautiful 9'6" that I'm saving in case the Eddie runs. Until then I'll rest, and I'll wait."

He may not have to wait too long. Word is they're running tomorrow ... but then again that was the word we were hearing last night. I guess we'll see where we're at when the sun rises.

With a stringer the size of a 2X4 it takes a lot of force to buckle a 9'6" Waimea gun. Of course, Twiggy's not exactly easy on his equipment.