By all accounts, Nov. 26, 2002 at Jaws will go down as one of the heaviest big-wave sessions of all time. Light offshores, blue skies, 30-foot swell and a pantheon of big-wave superheroes combined for a year’s worth of highlight reels. But the biggest highlight was undoubtedly Garrett McNamara’s blind ambition through the largest tube to date. Here he gives us the second-by-second replay:


I didn’t get many waves on that big day at Jaws. My partner Ikaika Kalama and I got a few early, before anyone came out, but then my board went into the rocks and I had to swim up in there and explore the gulch. I eventually found my board in a cave, used some Hawaiian sandpaper (a rock) to smooth out the fins and made it back out in the lineup.

A little later, around mid-morning, we’re sitting out in the channel, and to Dane Kealoha, I said, “Dane, you want to pull me in one?”

“What? You like go?” he said.

I’m all, “Yeah…can you drive?”

I could tell, he was like, “What the f–k, you’re asking me if I can drive?”

But then he said, “OK, let’s go.”

Boom, first wave he goes right for it. The whole day, I was trying to respect everybody. Taking my turn, not being greedy. But Dane was driving now, and everyone just sort of backed off. We were there. We were on it without even a wait.

I don’t know how big the thing was, but I do know I got the heaviest wave of my life thanks to Dane. Enough said.

Just a (makes a long, sucking, gurgling noise as he comes out with the spit) “Ahhhhh!!!!!”

The heaviest of my life –hands down.

It spit as soon as I was inside it. I couldn’t see a thing for the entire ride. The whole time I had my eyes closed, going, “I’m coming out. I’m coming out.” I thought through the wave. I envisioned me exiting the barrel so I could make it.

Other guys might have gotten heavier ones, bigger ones, badder ones…whatever. All I know is that I had the heaviest experience of my life on that wave — and it’s going to be a long time before something outweighs it.