Bradshaw_98

Remember this wave? Was almost twenty years ago today. Ken Bradshaw racing into a big-wave cul-de-sac.

Remember “Biggest Wednesday”? January 28th, 1998? Ken Bradshaw whipped into the Biggest Wave Ever Surfed™ 18 years ago today, riding not only a 50-foot Outer Log Cabins behemoth, but also the crest of a tow-surfing wave that would—outside of Nazare—come crashing down in a heap of disinterest within the surf world in just a handful of years.

Who woulda thought?

After Bradshaw’s wave, the quixotic chase to clamber over the 100-foot wave threshold dominated our big-wave awareness throughout the early ’00s, and it seemed obvious that Bradshaw, or perhaps, G-Mac, would be the one to plant that flag.

But then along came the Healey/Long/Layer/Dorian paddle-in resurgence, and just like that, all over the surf world, people who’d never in a million years be close enough to a big-wave to need to actually make this decision (like me!) decided that no way would we tow when confronted with giant surf.

And like that, tow-surfing released its headlock on big-wave surfing.

But on this January 28th, a day when El Niño is again pounding furiously on the North Shore’s outer reefs, let us remember Bradshaw’s wave, and all the promise it ushered in. We’re still looking for that 100-foot wave for some reason, but it sure feels likely that some iron-spined Maui charger will pull himself into it with his bare hands. Who knows? Maybe even this week!

Please enjoy this clip of Mr. Bradshaw and his incredible neck, muscling through some enormous North Shore action.