There is a big wave surf contest going on today. The swell is up and the best big wave surfers in the world are competing in Pe’ahi, located on the island of Maui. The north shore is known to produce waves of epic proportion when the time is right. A relatively calm coast is temporarily interrupted by 30 to 40 ft bangers. Big wave contests are well publicized, with a live video stream available. Commentators are on the scene and giving play by play of each riders performance.
Action sports, with increased publicity and advances in filming, once considered extreme, have made their way into the mainstream. The “die hards” of these extreme sports would argue that the increased popularity has given way to more bad than good. The overcrowding of surf spots and polluted natural environments are included in the results of increased popularity. We now watch surf contest from the comfort of our own homes, with detailed explanations of what is going on. Although somewhat new to mainstream media and prime time television, surfing is not. This video from 1921 is rare footage from simpler times.
Although Waikiki is located on an entirely different island that Pe’ahi, it has seen the direct effects of a main stream surf culture. Waikiki has seen incredible changes from the effects of tourism. It’s a breeding ground for people wanting to try surfing for the first time. The coast is lined with high rise hotels and finding an open spot on the beach big enough for your towel is next to impossible during peak season. Waikiki is a spot where countless people try out surfing for the first time. You can’t blame surfers and extreme sports enthusiasts for missing the way things once were. Inclusion and opportunity for people to try new things is important, but the tranquility of the scene in the video seems something to be desired as well.