Condition Black

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The event of the biggest wave ever recorded in the Pacific

It happened in Hawaii. The US Coast Guard gave it the name 'Condition Black' which meant that nobody can go near the water.

It so happened that I was wintering in Hawaii and witnessed part of this unique action of Nature. When I reached the very place, the Coast Guards had already used a lot of yellow ribbons to block off the coast of the North Shore on Oahu Island.

The date was January 28, 1998. The Pacific Ocean was being hit by a gigantic storm system the like of which had never been seen before. It is a well-known fact that winter time on the North Shore of Oahu Island is the place to be as the surfers of the World gather to ride huge waves and participate in a mighty competition to win The Triple Crown.

Before the day of January 28th, over an electrical network system, a notice went out to the surfers of the World that huge waves were forming from Japan and moving eastward toward the Hawaiian Islands. The competition for big waves surfing is scheduled on an ad hoc basis according to what Nature will provide and when. As the news this particular year came in surfers of the World were electrified to be given the perfect opportunity. 'The Memorial Big Wave Competition' is named after Eddie Aikau, who was a local lifeguard. He lost his life when attempting to rescue a canoeing team on rough seas.

But instead of the ideal situation for 'Big Waves' - those of about 30-40 feet high - the surfers coming from all over were confronted with a totally unexpected extreme. Not even the most experienced professional surfer had seen anything like this ever before. The colossal wave coming to Oahu Island reached 85 feet in height! The
average surfer will run in the opposite direction at a 25 feet wave!

At this time there was one surfer by the name of Ken Bradshaw (born and raised in Texas) who had already ridden the biggest waves ever. He had held the record about 20 times for riding waves measuring between 40 and 65 feet in height. His nickname was 'Ken Kong' and he truly was a Wave Warrior due to reach the peak of his career, after 25 years of experience, on this day in January, 1998.

There were dangerously huge waves before the monster one and the beaches were closed by the Coast Guards. At this time, however, the Coast Guard could not do anything about it and 12 surfers took up the challenge. But Ken Bradshaw was the only one who got to ride the 85 feet high wave successfully. Thankfully the others got out safely - without riding the wave.

TV and radio stations interviewed him several times. Ken said that the Ocean gives balance to his life. For the frustrations in his 'real' life the antidote was to be a surfer of the Ocean.

Blue Bird aka Gecko

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