By Diane Ako
In tandem with the busy Hawaiian big wave season, 60 big wave riders and industry representatives came together at Surfer The Bar, Turtle Bay Resort, on Friday, November 30, for the first official Big Wave Risk Assessment Summit.
The gathering, presented by WaveJet, was held in memory of Sion Milosky in an effort to make the big wave lineups a more risk-managed place for those who ride them. It was organized by two North Shore big wave riders, Danilo Couto and Kohl Christensen.
By 9 am, the venue was packed with professional athletes, underground chargers, adrenaline veterans, and emergency service representatives. Sion's father, Milo, and wife, Suzy, also attended to show their support.
Photo Credit: Sebastian Muller, www.Roots.cl
"Over the last couple years I had this feeling like something has to be done to get as many of us together as possible and share our experiences to learn from those who are experts in their fields," said Couto.
"We all accept the risks in what we do," added Christensen, "but bottom line is we want to increase the chances that everybody gets to go home at the end of the day."
Christensen and Couto sought the services of experienced ocean Risk Assessment expert and fellow big wave rider Brian Keaulana. Keaulana has consulted with lifeguards, government agencies and armed services through out his storied carrier. He waived all of his service fees in exchange for a donation of used ocean equipment to be given to less fortunate children on Oahu's Westside.
Brian put the day into clear perspective: "You can be the most trained and accomplished guy in the lineup - always cool under pressure. But if you are the one in trouble, who would you trust to save you? Every wipeout that happens should be considered that persons last wipeout. Nothing is more important than someone's life and you can all do something to help in that situation if you prepare yourselves, practice the skills, and train your emotions."
What transpired that day exceeded all of Couto, Christensen's and the Milosky's expectations: Nine straight hours of focused, respectful discussion; first aid training from the AED institute of America; presentations from Performance Freediving; feedback on safety equipment provided by Patagonia, C4 Waterman, Dakine and Spare Air; and on-water Jet ski and rescue skills training.
Due to the major success of the "Big Wave Safety Summit in Memory of Sion Milosky", organizers look forward to continuing the tradition in the years ahead.