Photo: Bernie Baker
Surf is 4-8' with North winds and its really good timing. Makahiki is a festival for hawaiians to celebrate the time of harvest. On the island of Oahu at the famed break of Makaha this is exactly what they did. Quiksilver’s Makahiki brought family and friends to ride waves on everything from SUP, Canoe to tandem. See you there Saturday-Sunday.
Roll the tape back two decades, 19 years to be exact, and there's a new concept floating around Oahu's surfing neighborhood, spearheaded by George Downing, Hawaii's senior surfing statesman and the director for the monumental Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational. He's talking with Quiksilver Hawaii's Glen Moncata about putting together a unique event, a Hawaiian Makahiki (sports festival) that would annually showcase Hawaii's best talent in longboarding, tandem and traditional canoe wave riding. With so few longboard events throughout the state back then the opportunities for local longboard surfers to "qualify" for international longboard events was practically nil. Thus, out of desire and community support was born the winter Makahiki Games.
The Makahiki's focus was originally to provide an internationally rated meet for Hawaii's best longboarders -- cash awards and points -- but with the inclusion of the tandem, canoe and most recently the stand-up paddle explosion the Makahiki has really turned out to be Hawaii's own South Pacific version of the mainland's Winter X Games -- and why not? We're surrounded by a warm ocean playground for every type of wave-riding diversion known to man, so joining each of these most traditional Hawaiian wave sports together for some friendly/aggressive/nail-biting competition into a two-day beach party was duck soup, they just needed a proper venue.
That's where Makaha comes into play, no other winter surfing grounds on Oahu offer as much as Makaha for all of the different competitions. As Aspen represents the Holy Grail for snow competitions, so Makaha offers up equally as much diversity to its surf gladiators and their demands. Oahu's world famous west side beach was the original site for Hawaii's first international winter championships when longboards were the only design and tandem surfing was also on the event schedule. Canoe wave riding was just another one of those "given" fun things to do in any wave conditions.
A unique weather pattern to our winter island waves is that the same swell-producing storms that run across the northwest Pacific Ocean first pump the big surf at us, before moving slowly across to the USA West Coast. Then, it's deep snow time from same low pressure traveling over the western slopes to the eastern seaboard. So, when watching this winter's X Games going on in the crystal white powder of the Rockies or the Sierras, remember that Hawaii's already crowned its own special brand of extreme winners on the gleaming white sands and deep blue skies of Makaha.