North Shore ‘legend’ Jason Magers, who took on monster wave as a teen, died at just 50
(Image: Jason Magers/Facebook)
WAIMEA BAY, OAHU Jason Magers became a surfing legend as a teen.
Back in 1998, on a day that later became known as “Black Wednesday,” Magers slipped past police who had closed Waimea Bay, paddled out into massive surf and tried to ride waves with faces topping 20 feet.
Magers didn’t succeed — he got washed in and was then taken away in handcuffs. But his bold move is how he made his name — and his reputation.
“He was a mad man,” said Liam McNamara, whose brother holds the record for surfing the biggest wave. “He set the stage and paved the way for surfers who came after him. He was a hero my brother and I wanted to emulate.”
Magers died Monday in California, his family has confirmed, though his cause of death was not immediately known. He was 50.
McNamara grew up around Magers and recalls “Black Wednesday.”
“I heard rumor he was going to surf,” he said. “I remember biking to Waimea with my brother and witnessing Jason. He opened eyes, ears and minds of young surfers and the elderly.”
Magers was raised on Oahu’s North Shore and by age 15 was on the cover of “Surfer” magazine.
Friends said he towered over his peers in stature and was feared, despite his young age.
You would know when Magers was in the room, McNamara said. In and out of the water, he garnered respect from people of all ages.
“You can see a difference between surfers who had a connection,” McNamara said. “It takes talent to be a good surfer, and Jason had that gift with Mother Nature.”
But friends also said that Magers struggled for years with addiction, which hurt his career.
“Trouble comes to those of us who live on the edge like that. He fought his demons, I fought mine,” said Brandon Jak Cruz, who knew Magers for more than 25 years. “Jason lived his way, and didn’t always do as suggested. It was part of who he was, and it also hurt him, too. That’s the price, I guess.”
Cruz added: “I want people to know that he loved his friends. He was loyal. He cared, probably more than he cared about himself, that’s my thought. I’ll miss him.”
When asked how Magers should be remembered, McNamara said, “He was the guy who would take off his shirt for you. He was a kid who went after what he wanted. He should be remembered as a legend.”