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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac: Giant Waves

Air Date: Week of

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This week, facts about the biggest wave ever surfed in Hawaii.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: Dick Dale & the Del Tones, ìThe Victorî, REVENGE OF THE SURF INSTRUMENTALS (MCA ñ 1995)]

CURWOOD: On January 28th, 1998, a storm off the coast of Japan created a once-in-a- lifetime experience for one lucky Hawaiian surfer dude. That's the day when 45 year old Ken Bradshaw rode the biggest wave ever recorded being surfed. The storm had stirred up such huge wages that officials of an international big wave surfing contest had to cancel the event, being held on the North Shore of Oahu. The Coast Guard labeled the waters "Condition Black", and told everyone to stay away from the ocean. But that didn't stop a few veteran kahunas like Ken Bradshaw, known in the surfing world as ìKen Kong.î Ken and his cohorts rode out on jet skis a few miles, to the spot where 60 foot ocean waves were already breaking. A film crew flew out to capture the action and, at times, their helicopter was actually flying lower than the crest of the waves. And then, at just the right moment, Ken Kong caught an 85 foot monster cruncher. He rode down the side of the wave, clearing the crashing white water where the wave was breaking and miraculously avoided a wipe-out. But the man who rode that biggest wave remains modest. As he told Surfer magazine that day, "I just knew I caught a really big wave and I was trying to get out of its way." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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