Until the 1930s, modern surfing in Hawaiʻi was focused at Waikīkī; there the waves were smaller. Then, in 1937, Wally Froiseth and John Kelly, reportedly on a school trip, witnessed the large break at Mākaha and later surfed its waves. Mākaha became the birthplace of big wave surfing. Then, they looked to the North Shore. On December 22, 1943, Woody Brown and a young friend named Dickie Cross paddled out at Sunset on a rising swell. Up to this time, Sunset had rarely been ridden. “There were 20 foot waves breaking on each side.” They paddled down to Waimea.
“All of a sudden, his eyes see the darn mountains coming way outside in the blue water, just piling one on top of another, way out there.” “So, they washed me up on the beach. I was so weak, I couldn’t stand up. I crawled out on my hands and knees and these army guys came running down.” “The first thing I said to them was, ‘Where’s the other guy?’ They said, ‘Oh, we never saw him after he got wrapped up in that first big wave.’” Cross’s death contributed greatly to what California big-wave rider Greg Noll later described as the ‘Waimea taboo’ – a general fear that kept surfers from riding the break until 1957.