Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Hawaii

In wake of dramatic Eddie Aikau surfing event, a best-wipeouts video

San Clemente's Greg Long is still basking in his dramatic victory during the Eddie Aikau memorial surfing contest at Waimea Bay on Tuesday, but all of the surfers who were out during the epic swell must be relishing the memories.

It was a swell for the ages and along with all the great rides, from the world's premier big-wave surfers, there were some remarkable wipeouts.

Thankfully, a video showing the best wipeouts was produced. It's posted on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals site and is making the rounds on YouTube. Enjoy....

-- Pete Thomas

For surfers in Hawaii, latest swell is one for the ages

While the surfing spotlight has focused on Oahu's North Shore and most recently on the spectacular action at Waimea Bay, the tow-surfing chargers have been busy at Hawaii's outer reefs and particularly at Jaws off Maui, where the waves were... well, watch the video.

This El Niño-supercharged winter is shaping up to be one for the ages and it's nice to see Jaws, or Pe'ahi, breaking so large again after a seemingly long period of relative dormancy.

The surf was larger at Jaws than it was at Waimea Bay, which is typical during the right swell and why the Jaws crowd requires jet-powered personal watercraft to tow surfers onto fast-moving swells, and to use the vessels for rescues.

Sean Collins, chief forecaster for Surfline.com, said the swell is one of the five largest ever to slam Oahu's North Shore, comparable to El Niño-fueled episodes in 1998 and 1969. The extreme surf is expected to continue for several days in Hawaii and it will reach California and elsewhere on the West Coast beginning Wednesday.

In fact, several of the surfers who competed in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest on Tuesday planned to catch red-eye flights to San Francisco for the short drive to Mavericks near Half Moon Bay. It remains to bee seen whether it'll be too stormy to hold the Mavericks contest this week.

The greatest performances at all these locations, and many others, will become entries in the Billabong  XXL Global Big-Wave Awards, a yearlong contest that ends in the spring. Judges, this time around, will have their hands full deciding winners in several categories. But they're not complaining.

-- Pete Thomas

Entangled humpback whale off Maui finally freed

Officials disentangle a juvenile humpback whale from yellow plastic rope caught in its mouth. The 35-foot-long yearling was freed from the life-threatening rope Sunday.

A juvenile humpback whale entangled in hundreds of feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope was finally freed on Sunday.

As reported last week in Outposts, the mammal was first spotted off Maui by the crew of a whale-watching vessel, Ocean Explorer of the Pacific Whale Foundation.

A team with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary had been trying to free the animal since last Tuesday, when team members fixed a transmitter to the rope for tracking purposes.

Assisted by members from the NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the team was able to attach a sea anchor to the mammal, slowing it and keeping it near the surface. They were then able to approach close enough to cut the entangling lines using specialized equipment.

After all the gear was removed, the whale appeared to be in good shape, and swam away with its mother and another whale.

Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager for the sanctuary, said that the rope could have killed the whale because it could interfere with its ability to feed, as it was wrapped around the whale's mouth.

I'm glad this whale tale ended on a positive note, and hopefully the young leviathan did not sustain any life-threatening injuries from its ordeal.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: Officials disentangle a juvenile humpback whale from yellow plastic rope caught in its mouth. The 35-foot-long yearling was freed from the life-threatening rope Sunday. Credit: NOAA

Eddie Aikau memorial big-wave surfing sets sights on Tuesday

Bruce Irons-003

*Updated to reflect contest will not be held Monday

The largest swell in 10 years is arriving along Hawaii's north-facing beaches, and George Downing, director of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave surfing contest, probably will give the Waimea Bay event a green light Tuesday. Downing had considered calling the contest on for today.

If a green light is issued, it will be for the first time since 2004, when Kauai's Bruce Irons (pictured) won on the merits of a perfect score at the fabled break on Oahu's North Shore.

The contest, in memory of the legendary Oahu waterman, is held only when wave heights reach at least 20 feet, when measured from the backs. That translates into 40-foot faces. The National Weather Service reports that the swell will build early today and continue into Tuesday and Wednesday, with open-ocean swell heights exceeding 22 feet. This will translate to wave heights of 30 feet or higher at North Shore surf spots. Wave faces should exceed 50 feet.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Bruce Irons during the 2004 Eddie Aikau contest. Credit: Quiksilver

Joel Parkinson wins at Sunset Beach, but can he claim first world surfing title at Pipeline?


Joel Parkinson was declared winner of the the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing today after a dramatic performance in a four-man final held in nearly perfect 10- to 15-foot waves at Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore.

The victory gives the Australian a lead in the race for the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series title. The Triple Crown will culminate with the Billabong Pipeline Masters, which could begin as early as Tuesday.

Parkinson, a three-time winner of the World Cup, picked up $20,000 and if he can win the series title he'll claim a $50,000 bonus and a $10,000 Nixon watch. But more important to Parkinson, who defeated Sunny Garcia, Mick Fanning and Dusty Payne in the final, is the Pipeline Masters, which aside from being part of the Triple Crown is the final ASP World Tour contest of the season.

Halfway through the season Parkinson held a commanding points lead and looked like a lock to claim his first world title. But he has since relinquished the lead to fellow Aussie and 2007 world champion Fanning, who has won three of the last five World Tour contests.

"Right now it feels really good because I'm back on the podium and back winning going into the biggest battle of my career," Parkinson said after his Sunset Beach triumph.

Fanning's response: "I'm in the lead and all the pressure is on Joel now. There's no room for error for him. I'm just concentrating on myself and getting through as many heats as possible and making it as hard as possible for him."

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Humpback whale remains entangled, but with less rope, off Maui

A young humpback whale, pictured on Tuesday, is being tracked by experts after becoming entangled in up to 500 feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope off Maui.

Humpback whales that migrate into Hawaiian waters for the winter support a thriving whale-watching industry, but it seems that every season there's a heart-wrenching tale involving a whale -- or multiple whales -- paying the price for so much human activity around the islands.

This usually involves vessel strikes; there are a few each season, sometimes even involving whale-watching vessels. But there also are occasional entanglements, including one that currently has a young whale in dire straights but under close watch between Maui and Molokai.

It involves a 30- to 35-foot humpback, believed to be 2 to 5 years old, discovered Tuesday wrapped with up to 500 feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope, part of which is still in the whale's mouth, making the situation life-threatening. The entangled whale was spotted by the crew of a whale-watching vessel, Ocean Explorer of the Pacific Whale Foundation.

A team with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on Tuesday fixed a transmitter to the rope for tracking purposes. Attempts to free the whale failed Tuesday because of rough conditions and on Wednesday the tracking device came off the whale with a clump of rope, Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager for the sanctuary, told Outposts.

The good news, Lyman added, is that the whale was relocated and another transmitter package was placed on the mammal, and it appeared to be trailing significantly less line than before, thanks to grapple efforts during the previous rescue attempt.

The bad news was that the line was still wrapped around the whale's head. Another attempt to free the whale will occur today, conditions permitting.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A young humpback whale, pictured on Tuesday, is being tracked by experts after becoming entangled in up to 500 feet of heavy-duty polypropylene rope off Maui. Credit: Associated Press

Joel Centeio wins Hawaiian Pro; Nate Yeomans qualifies for 2010 World Tour

Local knowledge and a Houdini-like performance on an eight-foot barrel helped propel Joel Centeio to victory in the Reef Hawaiian Pro surf contest at Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore. 

Centeio, 26, a Haleiwa resident, prevailed in the four-man final largely on the merit of his long tube ride, which received a score of 9.33 out of a possible 10. He won with a best-two-waves score of 14.76, and the victory makes him $20,000 richer and the early leader in the Triple Crown of Surfing series race.

That race now moves to Sunset Beach and will conclude at the fabled Banzai Pipeline.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me," a jubilant Centeio said, moments after emerging from the water. "It's a dream come true to win here at my home break."

Centeio defeated C.J. Hobgood, Australia's Jay Thompson and Tahiti's Alain Riou in the final after a marathon Monday session that began with the Round of 32.

Also celebrating is San Clemente's Nathan Yeomans, who by reaching the quarterfinals of the ASP World Qualifying Series contest earned enough points to qualify for the 2010 ASP World Tour. Yeomans climbed to No. 7 in the WQS standings with one contest remaining: the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.

(The Billabong Pipeline Masters is a World Tour event and will decide this year's world champion.)

While the triumph catapulted Centeio from 131st to 51st on the WQS, he cannot qualify for the 2010 World Tour.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Joel Centeio ducks beneath the lip of a wave at Haleiwa. The subsequent barrel ride earned the surfer a score of 9.33 and helped him win the Reef Hawaiian Pro. Credit: Bernie Baker / Triple Crown of Surfing

Note: To follow this blog on Twitter please visit @latimesoutposts

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing gets underway in Hawaii


The weather is beautiful; wish I were there.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition window opens today in Hawaii along a stretch of Oahu's north coastline often referred to as "the seven-mile miracle" because of its many outstanding surf spots.

In 20 years of covering surfing and the general outdoors beat for the Los Angeles Times, I've managed to attend this prestigious year-end series and witness the tribal gathering of hundreds of surfers from around the world a grand total of once.

But I saw Haleiwa breaking at 10 feet, Sunset at 15 feet and Pipeline at about 20 feet. I heard the swell arrive and start pounding the shore during the night, and witnessed some amazing surfing by the best in the world -- and even managed to catch a few waves myself.

But thank goodness for the Internet and webcasts, which will enable Outposts to provide updates during this year's $1-million series, which has lured more than 150 surfers from 17 nations. At stake, for men and women, are ASP World Tour championships and roster spots for next year's elite tours. Also up for grabs are the prestigious Triple Crown championships, won last year by Australia's Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore.

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Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament won by father-son team from Japan

Tetsuzo Suzuki, left, and father Kihachiro won the 50th Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament taking place this week in Kona, Hawaii.

The father-son team Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope of Japan won the 50th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament this week in Kona, Hawaii.

The team ended the five-day tournament Friday with a total catch of five Pacific blue marlin, enough to put them at the top of the scoreboard. Four of the five marlin were tagged and released, and they boated one Thursday that weighed in at 332 pounds.

"I came to Kona with a feeling that I would win and I am so happy," team captain Kihachiro Suzuki said, speaking through an interpreter. "This is my second time here at the HIBT. It is so enjoyable."

Malibu Marlin Club, the team that had held first place for three of the five days of the competition, finished in third after Team Old South Marlin Club #4 from North Carolina rallied on the final day to propel them from fourth to second place.

The golden anniversary of this prestigious tournament attracted 42 teams from around the world. The 2010 competition is scheduled for July 31 to Aug. 8 and will be in Kona again.

"We want to extend a heartfelt mahalo to the entire Kona community for the warmth and ahoha shared these past 50 years," HIBT founder Peter Fithian said.

Final top-five team standings and points:

  1. Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope, 1643
  2. Old South Marlin Club #4, 1550
  3. Malibu Marlin Club, 1467
  4. Alii Brothers Marlin Hui, 1350
  5. South Africa Protea Team, 1300

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Tetsuzo Suzuki, left, and father Kihachiro won the 50th Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament taking place this week in Kona, Hawaii. Credit: HIBT

Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament coming down to the wire

Sam Spinello, far right, and the 567-pound marlin he landed.Today is the fifth and final day of the 50th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, a prestigious event that attracts anglers to Kona, Hawaii, from around the world.

The competition is tight, with only 24 points separating the leading team Malibu Marlin Club from second-place Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope of Japan.

Day 3 saw the largest fish landed thus far. Malibu Marlin Club angler and team captain Sam Spinello brought in a 567-pound Pacific blue marlin, putting the team into first place.

"This was another very strong, tough fish," said Spinello. "We had the drag on as high as it could go and she still gave us a tremendous fight. The captain and crew did an amazing job with boating this fish. What a day."

The inaugural Great Marlin Race was added as part of the HIBT golden anniversary celebration. Participating teams can purchase a Pacific blue marlin satellite tagging device, which once attached to the fish will track its travels for about six months. The marlin that travels the farthest wins its team one entry for up to six anglers to next year's tournament. So far, three teams have deployed the devices.

The 2010 competition is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 8 and will be held in Kona again.

Team standings and points after Thursday:

1. Malibu Marlin Club, 1367
2. Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope, 1343
3. Pajaro Valley Game Fishing Club No. 2, 1250
4. Old South Marlin Club No. 4, 1250

(In the event of a points tie, place standings are determined by the time that the fish is boated.)

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Sam Spinello, far right, with the 567-pound marlin he landed. Credit: HIBT

Note: To follow this blog on Twitter, visit @latimesoutposts.com

Swine flu hysteria spanning global outdoors realm; is any place safe?

Costa Rica's Saint Teresa beach.

The swine flu scare is now global and some of the world's premier outdoors destinations have become swept up in the hysteria.

So if you're a bird-watcher with plans to visit, say, Costa Rica, you may wonder whether it's safe. Of course it is, but there are no guarantees, just as there are none while staying home.

People are contracting the virus in Southern California and New York and in U.S. points between. The virus reportedly has been detected in Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, Spain and numerous other countries.

There are wonderful destinations where it has not yet surfaced, among them Hawaii, Cuba and Costa Rica. Oops, check that: Two hours ago the Tico Times reported that "a 21-year-old Costa Rican woman has become the country's first case of swine flu and is in stable condition."

This does not mean that tourists should avoid Costa Rica, just as they should not strike every single location in Mexico off their travel list. But don't step onto the airplane with a cough, or you might be turned away after you land. Seriously. It's happening.

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Humpback whales amaze Maui submarine tour group

A group of sightseers on an underwater tour off the coast of Maui received a surprise when a group of humpback whales surrounded the submarine they were in.

The tour by Atlantis Adventures on Maui usually features lots of colorful fish, so to have the whales circling the submarine offered the ultimate adventure.

The whales appeared to be courting a female that stayed near the sub. The encounter lasted approximately 45 minutes, during which time the sub held its depth, not wanting to risk possible damage from bumping one of the mammals.

Below is a video clip of the close encounter.

The folks on board certainly got the experience of a lifetime, and something worth writing about on postcards.

-- Kelly Burgess


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.