Big wave surfers to miss out on Hawaii’s biggest swell in a decade

Posted at 10:45 AM, Jan 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-21 10:55:42-05

(CNN) – The biggest waves in a decade are forecast to be rolling toward Hawaii this week, but surfers are set to miss out on the chance to ride them.

The National Weather Service in Hawaii said it expects waves 40-to-50-feet high to hit the north shore of Oahu on Wednesday, driven by “a giant northwest swell.”

Hawaii hasn’t experience waves that large since 2004, said Sam Houston, a forecaster with the weather service.

At first glance, that would appear to offer a golden opportunity for participants in a big wave surf contest that was scheduled to take place Wednesday on Oahu.

This drone-shot video of surfers in Hawaii will blow your mind

But the organizers have postponed the event. They say that although the waves are expected to be pleasingly large, the wind conditions are no good.

“We have taken all the time we can to assess the developments of the next big swell and it does not look favorable for us,” said event organizer Glen Moncata. “The size is there, but the quality is not, due to strong, adverse winds.”

The weather service says a cold front will bring gusty winds and bursts of heavy rain Tuesday night through Wednesday.

Organizers of the big wave event said they will keep waiting until the end of February for “just one day of quality surf” when wave face heights reach around 40 feet.

The contest is held in honor of Eddie Aikau, a famous Oahu lifeguard who was regarded as one of the best big wave surfers of the 1960s and ’70s. Aikau disappeared in 1978 during a canoe expedition from Hawaii to Tahiti.

The event — the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave invitational — isn’t an annual occurrence. It has taken place eight times, starting in 1984. It was last held in December 2009 when Greg Long of California claimed victory.

The invitees to this year’s event include Long, Aiku’s younger brother Clyde, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and Carlos Burle, who gained global renown for surfing an enormous wave in Portugal last year.

The big waves headed for Hawaii are also prompting concern among beachfront home owners whose houses risk being flooded or are on cliffs vulnerable to erosion.

The American Red Cross says it has volunteers and supplies on standby for any homes that are affected, CNN affiliate KHNL/KGMB reported.

CNN’s Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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By Jethro Mullen