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Enter Makaha

Makaha, 1940s
Wally Froiseth
Waikiki, 1940s
George Downing, Makaha

Browns was the most challenging plus-size wave on the south side of the island. Kelly and his friends hadn’t mastered the break completely on their new narrow-tailed boards, but they could now at least stroke into an eight-footer and know they had a fighting chance of making it to the channel in one piece. More importantly, they all knew that Browns was by no means Oahu’s last word in big surf.

Wave-riding in Hawaii during the late 1930s was still done almost exclusively at Waikiki, where the...

The Empty Lot Boys arrived at Makaha pumped to the gills with immortal teenage swagger. They understood that new big surf techniques were theirs to invent, and they were soon riding waves bigger than anything they'd ever seen in Waikiki.