One hundred-foot wave: a restricted surfing elite club

The day was January 27, 1998. Over the next couple of days, the surf began to subside, but more extreme big waves were forecasted to arrive shortly.

The storm and buoy data were so unbelievable that many thought it was a mistake, as it was predicting wave faces in excess of 85 feet.

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" - Henry David Thoreau.

Robert Roley, also known as Robbie Page, an Australian spiritual leader with the eye of a peregrine falcon, and his friend Donovan Frankenreiter had been watching the waves build all day from Robbie's beachfront house in front of Log Cabins surf break.

Donavon, a popular professional musician, was there playing guitar and singing with the sound of the crashing waves accompanying him.

The Willis brothers and Australian surfing champion Cheyne Horan had dropped by to see Robbie as well as take advantage of his beachfront view to better monitor the rising waves.

Directly in front of Robbie's house were empty, well-shaped, peeling waves, consistently breaking 30 feet and higher.

Robbie related to the Willis brothers and Cheyne.

"If the surf gets as big as they say it will, I reckon you'll have a go out there," Horan said as he pointed to a huge wave peeling perfectly across the Outer Log Cabins Reef.

With everywhere else on the North Shore already closing out and knowing the surf was forecasted to continue rising higher and higher, Outer Log Cabins certainly looked to be the best option for surfing the impending unprecedented swell.

At that moment, the Willis brothers made the decision to surf Outer Log Cabins first thing in the morning at dawn.

It was Robbie Page, under the Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau, who pointed out that Outer Log Cabins would be possible to surf.

Little did anyone know at the time, but beyond Outer Log Cabins, Devil's Garden, the Holy Grail of extreme big wave surfing was waiting for them.

Milton Bradley Willis: wearing the 100-foot-plus wave hat | Photo: Willis Brothers

From the Eddie Aikau to Outer Log Cabins to Devil's Garden

Wednesday, January 28, 1998 | Devil's Garden

"The intensity of all eternity is felt in the now." - Milton Bradley Willis.

Never before or after has anyone witnessed the size and magnitude of the extremely big surf that was ridden on this day.

It was a groundbreaking day for both mankind and extreme big wave surfing, which also marked the first and last time the famous and renowned Quiksilver Eddie Aikau event would be canceled due to the extreme wave heights.

Every year, the Eddie Aikau big wave surfing contest invites the world's best big wave surfers to test their skills in the biggest, most challenging waves in the world, located at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu.

In order to hold the Eddie Aikau big wave surfing contest, a minimum wave size was established, declaring that until the surf reaches heights of at least 20 to 25 feet - 40 to 50 feet by today's standards - the contest would have to be rescheduled.

Therefore, a waiting period was established.

Some years, the surf reaches the required size requirements; other years, it doesn't, and this is what makes the Aikau the most prestigious event in all surfing.

It's got to be big - real big, or it's not happening.

After all, you can't have a big wave event unless the waves are, in fact, big.

The surf forecast that day wasn't calling for big surf. It was calling for massive surf.

In the darkness before dawn, the Willis brothers were up and ready. The loud rumble of the surf was a good indication the swell had arrived.

With the Sea-Doo jet ski fueled and their trusty tow-boards readied, it was time. Game on.

But first, they headed over to Starbucks at Foodland to grab a mandatory coffee for Milton before heading to the beach and Outer Log Cabins.

The swell was good news for the Eddie Aikau contest director, George Downing, as it meant after years of waiting for Waimea Bay to be big enough, there would be maximum wave size perfect for the surfing competition.

With the contest expected to be a go, expert big wave surfers like Cheyne Horan, Ken Bradshaw, and others who were amongst the Quiksilver invitees headed to Waimea Bay for the contest.

The salt was thick in the air. Wave forecasters had been right; the waves were massive.

The thousands of spectators, lifeguards, Quiksilver officials, and contestants at Waimea Bay couldn't comprehend what they saw.

The surf was pounding Waimea Bay, transforming the bay into a churning caldron of sea foam with giant closeouts and waves breaking wide into the channel.

It looked like pure mayhem.

The thundering waves were so big that contest coordinator Randy Rarick was having trouble finding any contestants willing to go out.

The contest area was quite the scene.

Everyone, including Downing, Rarick, the lifeguards, and all the invitees, was uneasy, tense, and confused.

Everyone was wondering if the Eddie Aikau event would even go on or if it would be canceled due to the waves deemed too big to humanly surf.

To be considered for the Eddie Aikau, you have to be recognized by Quiksilver as one of the world's best big wave riders.

In addition, the only way to get in is to be invited. It turns out the world's best big wave surfers wanted nothing to do with these waves.

As invited contestants', Cheyne Horan and Ken Bradshaw were ball and chained to the contest.

The Willis brothers had not been invited and were already heading to Outer Log Cabins.

Their plans were disrupted, however, with a perchance predawn meeting at the local Foodland Starbucks when they met with Hawaiian professional surfer Michael Ho, an Eddie Aikau invitee.

Michael Ho informed the Willis brothers that none of the Aikau invitees were willing to step up.

It should be noted that all the invited surfers would be paid $500 just to paddle out, regardless of whether they caught a wave or not.

You could offer them money, and they still didn't want to do it!

No amount of arm twisting or financial incentive was going to make these big-wave surfers change their minds.

They had already folded like a wet deck of cards. Eddie Aikau would not have taken a no for an answer.

"No" would be "go." But Eddie wasn't there.

Ho continued, "If you ever want to be in the Eddie Aikau contest, now is your opportunity. Go see contest coordinator Randy Rarick, as he is looking for anyone who is qualified and willing to go out to be in the contest.

Upon hearing Ho's words, the Willis brothers did not hesitate.

They rushed to Waimea Bay for the opportunity to get into the Eddie Aikau contest.

Enter the Willis Brothers

The fact the Willis brothers now had the opportunity to get into the surfing contest was a true-life Cinderella story for them.

The Willis brothers knew Waimea Bay intimately, surfed it regularly when it broke, and shaped the big wave guns for many of the top guns, including Hawaiian Titus Kinimaka, Mark Foo, and Alex "Ace Cool" Cooke.

Both Milton and Michael were considered by most expert Waimea Bay big wave surfers to be at the top of the pecking order at Waimea Bay.

Their experience at Waimea Bay includes surfing its biggest waves, getting barreled on waves 30 feet and higher, multiple successful dramatic lifesaving rescues in extremely dangerous conditions, and having earned the respect of the best big wave surfers at Waimea Bay.

Go ask Navy Seal and second-generation Waimea Bay big wave rider Ivan Trent, son of legendary big wave surfer Buzzy Trent.

Yet, with these credentials, they had not been invited to the Eddie Aikau contest, not even as alternates.

A glaring omission on Quiksilver's part, reeking of corporate politics.

Despite the Willis brothers having impeccable big wave surfing credentials, Quiksilver, nonetheless tainted by greed and their own agenda, effectively took control over who could and could not go out on what would be the swell of a lifetime.

Without an official invite, sacred Waimea Bay would now be "kapu," off limits to even the most devout and qualified big wave surfing practitioners.

Back at the contest, not one of the Quiksilver invited big wave surfers in the "Go! Go! Go! No turning back" spirit of Eddie Aikau was willing to go out in this eye of the tiger moment!

No chance! Their reason? The waves are too big!

What happened to "Eddie would go"? The Willis brothers were willing, able, and ready to get it on.

Eddie Aikau is legendary for his unmatched bravery and heartfelt dedication to big-wave surfing.

The proper thing to do as a true big wave surfer would be to honor that legacy by going out.

Milton and Michael Willis went to see contest coordinator Randy Rarick, got invited, and were now officially contestants, just as they should have been all along.

However, the other contest officials were still deciding what to do.

Contest director George Downing felt it was too dangerous and pushed to cancel.

Other officials and surfers agreed it couldn't be done because the waves were too big and too dangerous. Imagine that!

Twenty minutes later, the biggest save contest on Earth was officially canceled.

Amid the ensuing chaos, Milton and Michael immediately left the area for Outer Log Cabins with no further delay.

Imagine waves bigger than the contest itself, the day that the big wave contest did not go on because the invited big wave surfers felt the waves were too big to actually surf.

It appeared only the Willis brothers were up for the challenge.

But not so fast...

Michael Clebert Willis: ready to hit the surf | Willis Brothers

Jason Magers: The Unofficial Winner of the 1998 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Contest

It turns out somebody did go!

Managing to avoid the lifeguards and police barricades, North Shore local Jason Magers could not be stopped.

Magers was another big wave surfing contender not invited to the contest. So, Jason seized the moment by paddling out all alone into incomprehensible conditions.

Jason was a man possessed.

Before getting halfway out, an enormous wave broke directly in front of Magers, and he had to bail for his life.

Later, Magers related how he curled up into the fetal position, and he watched his life going in reverse until he became a baby, at which point he resurfaced.

After being washed ashore and coming in, Magers was arrested, not for having gone out but for outstanding warrants.

The only thing that stopped him from surfing the waves this historic day was the waves themselves - as it should be.

The virtue of Magers' display of supreme courage and daring to go when the "pros" wouldn't truly honors Eddie Aikau's legacy more than the contest.

It would be only fitting to give the prize money and first place to Jason Magers, the unofficial winner of the 1998 Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Contest.

Runner-up: Greg Russ

The hands-down unofficial runner-up was the big wave surfer and legitimate Hellman, Greg Russ.

The fact that the big wave contest got canceled was good news for the uninvited, albeit exceptionally well-qualified, Greg Russ.

This meant he could have a shot at riding these waves.

Greg Russ saw an opportunity before him and wanted to be the king of the liquid Nephilim.

Unfortunately for Russ, when the "Code Black" was issued, the police stopped him from going out, much to his dismay and rigorous objections.

By virtue of his earnest attempt to surf Waimea Bay on this day, contest or not, Greg Russ, despite being restrained by law enforcement, became the unofficial runner-up in the Eddie Aikau big wave surfing contest.

True big wave riders don't wait for the fanfare, the cameras, or a payday at the end of the day. They don't wait for fame and fortune.

It's a higher calling that must be answered.

When the waves are pumping, a true big wave surfer will drop everything to go surfing because he knows big waves are unique, priceless, and rare.

You can't stop him or her.

After leaving the contest area, the Willis brothers quickly headed over to Michael's house at Sunset Beach, where moments later, they would do a risky beach launch with their jet ski and tow board.

Destination Outer Log Cabins

Liquid walls of death were breaking out as far as the eye could see and what seemed to be another mile past that.

The salt in the air was so thick you couldn't see the outside breaking waves from the shore.

It was a complete whiteout. Nothing but white frothing foam from the shore to the horizon.

It was impossible to truly determine just how far out the waves were breaking.

The Willis brothers launched directly off the beach at Sunset Point, a seemingly impossible feat.

Michael was piloting an old secondhand little green and white Sea-Doo jet ski.

Michael was focused and determined to make it through and around an endless ocean of nonstop tidal waves.

If they made it out, Milton would be first up to surf.

Milton, with his surfboard secured under his arm, was set to go like a gladiator into the arena.

Defying all human understanding, against all odds and probability, guided purely by the hand of God himself, the Willis brothers miraculously did make it out to Outer Log Cabins.

Willis Surfboards: shaped for the giants | Photo: Willis Brothers

Not Far Behind

Cheyne Horan, Sam Hawk, Ken Bradshaw, and Dan Moore were following in the Willis brothers' footsteps, except a beach launch was out of the question for them - too dangerous.

They had decided it would be safer and saner to launch from Haleiwa harbor, which they did, as did everyone who went out later that day, with the exception of the brothers who launched directly off Sunset Beach twice.

While launching a jet ski off the beach in these unprecedented conditions could be considered insanity, launching from the safety of the harbor was no cakewalk either.

Ace Cool and Ron Barren launched off the harbor but never made it out.

They got cleaned up hard by a series of mountainous waves as they rounded the corner off of Puaʻena Point.

It should be noted that after the Willis brothers were already out surfing, "Code Black II" was officially issued, legally closing all North Shore beaches.

The waves were so big that they made Waimea Bay look like a shore break, which it literally was on this day.

When the Willis brothers finally reached Outer Log Cabins, it was like a scene from "Jurassic Park," except instead of extremely big threatening dinosaurs, it was extremely big ominous waves.

As if out of a chapter from Homer's epic poem "Odyssey," the Willis brothers found themselves amongst a phalanx of liquid, extreme, big waves, way bigger than anything they had ever experienced or imagined before.

Waves standing so high they actually scraped the sky, blocking out the horizon.

On high alert and intently scouting the waves, Michael saw a third wave coming in a series of waves that was by far the biggest, baddest wave of the entire set.

A bluebird so big it seemed as if it was moving in slow motion but, in reality, moving like a speeding freight train.

As they had practiced many times before, Michael lifted his hand, showing three fingers, singling to Milton, "Get ready. You're going on the third wave and for the ride of your life."

The Willis brothers rode up over and down the backside of the first wave. It felt every bit 100 feet.

Today, oceanographers estimate these waves to be 85 to 90 feet.

The second wave was even bigger, but it turned out Michael was on point - the third wave was nothing short of colossal monumental size.

As the third wave approached them, Michael gunned the Sea-Doo, whipping Milton into the top of the wave.

Most surfers would have dropped in and headed for the shoulder. Milton decided to drop in and fade back into the belly of the beast.

Milton looked like he was traveling 40 to 45 miles per hour with his hair flying in the wind.

The wave was powerful and fierce, but Milton remained calm and loose, surfing with control in perfect rhythm and harmony, matching power with heart.

As the wave grew steeper and steeper and the thick crest began to pitch and fall, Milton began his turn off the bottom of the wave.

Milton looked like a little dot with a Mount Everest avalanche about to consume him.

Michael, meanwhile, was further along on the shoulder of the beast, watching the entire event unfold.

It should be noted that other tow surf drivers were riding behind the wave so as not to ruin any potential photograph.

Michael was more concerned about his brother's safety than any photographs. He was positioned where he could keep an eye on his twin brother.

Yet, no matter how fast Milton was going, the wave was faster.

Upon seeing the enormity of the wave's crest coming down on him, Michael redirected his surfboard, preparing to take the entire ocean on the head.

Milton completely disappeared.

Swallowed, vanished, and gone from sight, buried alive by a huge wall of white water with the weight of the entire ocean behind it.

Milton was a seasoned salt who had experienced intense wipeouts before but nothing of this magnitude or scale.

Horrified, there was nothing Michael could do to help his brother. For Michael, time stood still.

Watching vigilantly to see what Milton's fate would be, Michael became hysterically overjoyed when he saw Milton come flying out of the darkness of the wave and into the light of day.

With all the courage and determination of the bravest warrior, Milton had held on steadfast, successfully making the wave against all the odds.

It may have been the sun glistening off the water droplets on Milton's tanned body or something else, but either way, Milton was glowing.

In a state of utter delirium, Michael raised his hands upward, flipping off the heavens, shouting, "F*****g A! F*****g A!"

What Michael was saying from his heart was, "Thank you, God! Thank you, God! Thank you, God! Thank you, God!"

You had to be there - a maniac moment for sure.

What the best big wave surfers, lifeguards, and watermen in the world had thought impossible was proven possible at that very moment by Milton Willis's mind-altering, incredible, and historic ride.

A successful ride that shattered the ceiling of big wave surfing and human understanding and marked the beginning of extreme big wave surfing.

At this moment, neither Milton nor Michael realized nor completely understood what had just occurred.

It was all a blur that seemed to happen in slow motion.

There was no time to fully take it all in as more XXL waves were quickly drawing near from out the back.

Michael jack-rabbited over picking up his brother, whose energy level was off the charts, literally electric and supercharged.

And why not? Milton had just experienced going where no man on Earth had ever been.

As the Willis brothers headed back out to sea to catch another wave, they could see riders in the distance rapidly approaching at full speed.

It was Ken Bradshaw and his driver, Dan Moore, followed by Cheyne Horan and Sam Hawk.

The brothers were in perfect position for the next wave, which was the beauty of a beast as thick as it was tall.

Mike raised his hand, signaling to Milt, "Get ready, this is for you," and proceeded to whip Milton into the wave, but something caught his eyes and ears.

It was the loud, obnoxious roar of Bradshaw and Moore's huge boat of a jet ski, and they were heading at full speed towards the Willis brothers.

This was now a game of chicken with the two teams competing for the same wave.

Moore, driving Bradshaw, had a crazy maniacal Mad Max look in his eyes, the kind of look that says, "I don't care, I'm taking this, and you can't stop me," especially on your dinky little jet ski.

Bradshaw was worse. He was staring straight ahead as if no one was there, like a rat cartoon character in real life.

It could have been a scene from a movie, think "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome."

Moore was not backing down, and a collision was imminently unavoidable.

In this game of chicken, the Willis brothers acquiesced.

They choose to yield to Bradshaw or risk being plowed into by a jet ski twice the size of theirs, going 50 miles per hour.

Instead of a right of way, this was a right of weight.

The wave they gave way to Bradshaw turned out to be the hallmark photo that defined this historic swell often referred to as "Biggest Wednesday."

The wave was initially estimated at 40 feet by Hawaii's daily newspapers but is now considered 85 feet by today's standards.

Brian Stephen, also known as Hank Foto, is credited with taking the iconic photo that day, which at the time was considered the largest wave surfed ever photographed.

Hank, who was filming from his jet ski with Larry Haynes, is quoted as saying.

Willis Brothers: stoked for what big wave surfing had for them | Photo: Willis Brothers

"I Saw 100-Foot Waves That Day: So Big They Looked Fake!"

Not to be deterred by Bradshaw, Michael towed Milton into the very next wave.

Unfortunately, one of the three helicopters out there that day filming came too close to Milton, and with the force of the winds coming off the helicopter blades combined with the offshore trade winds blowing up the face of the wave and Milton racing down the face of an 85-footer, Milton was blasted right off his surfboard, and the wave ended up breaking his surfboard into pieces.

Michael barely had enough time to rescue his twin brother as an extremely big avalanche of white water was rapidly closing in and threatening to annihilate them.

With keen precision, timing, and speed, Michael raced over and was able to successfully retrieve and get Milton aboard the jet ski.

At this point, there was only one way to go, and that was straight to shore as fast as they could.

The trouble was that there was no shore anymore, only a wall of exposed jagged lava. As typical with big waves, all the sand had been washed out, and the regular sandy beach shoreline was gone.

The Willis brothers were in a dire situation.

Positioned between two extremely big waves, one in front of them and one behind them, and heading directly towards a rock lava wall, the situation was not looking good.

However, there was one chance.

If Michael could time things just right, the wave ahead would cover and submerge the lava wall, enabling them to reach what little beach was left.

The dilemma was that the wave behind was bigger, moving faster and gaining on them.

No one would ever want to be in this situation.

There was only one choice they could make, and that was "Go! Go! Go!"

At full throttle, Michael, keeping his composure and remaining focused, led by divine guidance, trailed the first wave up onto the beach, miraculously flying over the wall of rock lava, hitting a sand berm, launching eight feet high and 30 feet through the air, over a wooden fence, and crashing into a house.

Surviving the insane ordeal was nothing short of a miracle.

While all this was happening at the beach, a throng of onlookers watching the melodrama unfold began screaming in sheer pandemonium.

As the wave began washing back out to sea, it was taking the jet ski with it.

Fortunately, a brave Brazilian-Hawaiian surfer named Fabio Fejones Rossi, Pat Gautreaux, and others jumped in to help the Willis brothers and prevent the jet ski from getting sucked back out to sea.

Twenty years later, Fabio Fejones Rossi is quoted as saying, "You guys wear the Crown!"

The Willis brothers weren't done yet.

They rushed back to Michael's place to get another tow board, and upon arrival, they were surprised to find Cheyne Horan and Sam Hawk already back in.

The brothers tried to get Horan and Hawk to go back out a second time with them, but the pair made it clear there was no way they were going out a second time, not in those conditions.

Hawk and Horan, two of the best and most experienced big wave surfers, tapped out.

Milton and Michael were driven by a higher power; nothing was going to stop them from going back out.

After hydrating, consuming a power bar, and refueling their little Sea-Doo, the twins were ready for round two.

The waves were showing no signs of letting up.

By now, the entire North Shore community was wall to wall with tourists, locals, and most of the world's best big wave surfers, including Garrett McNamara, the future biggest wave ever surfed Guinness world record holder, were all watching intently from the shore.

Stretched out across most of the North Shore was yellow police tape reading "Caution: Do Not Enter," the kind that is often used to cordon off crime scenes.

Traffic had come to a standstill in both directions, gridlocked along the Kamehameha Highway, and backed up for hours with islanders hoping to see the unprecedented waves and the surfers who dared to ride them.

With the help of friends, including Pat "Big Bird" Gautreaux, the Willis brothers launched off the beach at Sunset Point for a second time and fearlessly headed back out into the raging monstrous ocean.

After carefully weaving, dodging, maneuvering in and out, up and over waves as big as tall mountains, the Willis brothers again, with Michael driving the Sea-Doo and purely by Michael's skillful navigation and the Grace of God, succeeded in getting back out beyond the lineup.

Once out, the brothers made their way back to Outer Log Cabins for the second time.

Ken and Dan had gone in, but now there were three other tow surfing teams out, including Australian professional big wave surfers Ross Clark-Jones and Tony Ray.

The atmosphere was supercharged, competitive, and completely "Raiders of the Lost Ark" surreal.

In the frenzy, Clark-Jones and Ray ended up getting wiped out by a big wave.

The surfing media erroneously reported that it was the Willis brothers that got mowed. In truth, it was Ross and Tony that got mowed.

Michael proceeded to tow Milton into several bombs, all of which Milton surfed perfectly with power, style, aplomb, and no fear, only love and more love.

Prepared, not scared.

Tim Bonython captured Milton's waves on video and used them in his big wave surfing documentary "Biggest Wednesday: Condition Black."

Standouts from this historic afternoon session at Outer Log Cabins included in the video were Shawn Briley, Noah Johnson, and Troy Allotis.

Bonython described the waves as "walls of death."

By now, it was late in the afternoon, and the sun was getting low.

Knowing when enough was enough and that getting back to shore would be almost as dangerous as getting out, Milton and Michael called it a day and began heading back to Sunset Point.

Destination Devil's Garden: The Once in 100 Years Swell

Taking precautions not to get caught inside by rogue waves, the brothers powered further out to sea in their little Sea-Doo jet ski another half mile or so before heading back home to Sunset Beach.

The closer the Willis brothers got to Sunset Beach (Paumalu), the bigger the waves were getting and the further out they had to go.

Upon arrival outside Sunset Beach, Michael paused their little Sea-Doo, allowing the brothers to take in what they were actually witnessing and experiencing.

In front of them were towering, more than a 10-story building, wide open tidal wave size waves barreling top to bottom, which looked more animated than real.

Taunting, teasing, foreboding, seductive, scary, wide open, 100-foot plus, deep dark blue, sky-high, astronomical size booming barrels!

The Willis brothers hadn't planned on surfing Outer Sunset Beach (Paumalu) that day, and no one else did either.

The waves here were double the danger, double the risk, double the size of Outer Log Cabins.

"You only get one shot; do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." - Eminem.

No stranger to danger, the ever-wild and free-spirited Michael was ready to go. A powerful unseen force was calling him.

The temptation he was feeling to surf just one of these waves and make it out alive began to overwhelm and consume him.

Michael had to know what such a ride would feel like.

It wasn't athleticism, "I'm better than you," "camera on, action on," a competition thing, nor "this could kill me 1,000 times" ultimate thrill thing.

What would it be like to ride on the sparkle wall between life and death, facing truth straight on, surrendering to fate while held in God's protective hands like an innocent snow-white dove?

Just like in the Bible, to partake in this liquid tree of knowledge, Michael had to have a bite of that apple.

It cannot be overestimated that no one on Earth had ever done this before nor was ever offered this opportunity to take the first bite of a 100-foot-plus wave.

Michael's very life was at stake like a sacrificial lamb.

Michael trusted that his beloved brother Milton could tow him in, but he also knew should anything go wrong, in no way would Milton be able to retrieve him.

Milton believed and trusted in his brother Michael like no other, and with no apprehension, the brothers switched places.

Now it was Milton's turn to drive the jet ski and Michael's turn to roll the dice.

100-Foot Wave: the book by Milton B. Willis and Michael C. Willis

The Devil Made Him Do It

Michael had to have a bite of the apple. The Devil made him do it as a test of his core faith in He who sent him.

Ask yourself, who sent you?

With the precision of sending a rocket to the moon, Milton sent Michael soaring into either Heaven or Hell, with no way to go back and his fate firmly in the hands of the ocean gods.

If the waves at Outer Log Cabins looked deceptively slow motion, in comparison, the waves at Outer Sunset Beach appeared ridiculously slow motion, as in frame-by-frame slow motion.

Michael looked like a skier coming down a mountain going 90 miles per hour, but this mountain was moving fast, casting a dark shadow on everything in its path.

Michael made the steep drop, screaming down the face of the wave while cutting a sharp right angle, sea spray flying off the chattering surfboard, skittering as fast as it could go.

At this point, it was less about surfing the wave and more about going straight and staying on for dear life.

The wave kept peeling.

Michael's historic ride lasted for over half a mile before he ended it by going up and over the top of the wave, kicking out the back.

Time at this moment seemed to freeze completely.

Seconds later, Milton, an ever-faithful and loyal companion from birth, zoomed in to pick Michael up.

Superman Milton had already surfed extreme Outer Log Cabins twice this day, but no way was he ready to go in after watching his brother's monumental phenomenal otherworldly ride.

He was more than eager to go.

Being the ever-loving and dedicated brother that Michael is, he was determined to get Milton an even bigger wave than the one he had just survived.

At this moment, extreme big wave surfing became a spiritual experience for both Milton and Michael, who were feeling overwhelmingly blessed.

There was an aura of a higher power permeating the Pacific Ocean mist in the air, mightier than all the tidal waves in the world combined.

Michael raised his hand, giving Milton the sign, "This is it!". One wrong move, and Milton would be gone for good.

Milton was ready for what would be one hell of a ride!

With no lifeguards present, no helicopters buzzing overhead, and absolutely no fanfare, Michael flung Milton into what would be the biggest wave ever surfed on Earth with God, His Angels, and the chosen few as witnesses.

This wave was not an easy roller.

It was a powerful, top-to-bottom barrel with a 10-foot thick lip that pitched out 75 feet and then took ten seconds to reach the bottom.

Literally, an extremely big tidal wave breaking in the middle of the ocean.

Expert surfers estimated the wave Milton rode this day at Devil's Garden at well over 100 feet.

Robbie Page, Pipeline Master winner, movie star, and Australian ambassador to the surfing world, is quoted as saying, "F*****g yeah! I saw the Willis brothers surf 100-foot waves!"

Ride the Truly Wild Surf

The Willis brothers had escaped death and, in doing so, had surfed the biggest waves the world has ever seen to the present date.

That's right. And now it was time to go back home.

Milton and Michael, two humble brothers originally from Solana Beach, had been tested at outside Sunset Beach by the Devil himself.

Motivated by faith, love, and hope, the Willis brothers were pure in their intentions, proving to one and all with love in their hearts that everything is possible beyond imagination.

All glory to the highest power.

The brothers headed for shore, following a huge wave right up to the beach.

As the wave reached the shore, Michael revved the engine, getting a burst of speed, and propelled the Sea-Doo jet ski onto the sand, sliding up onto the beach beyond the waves' powerful reach.

On the beach watching the Willis brothers' beach landing unfold was big wave surfer Kirby Kotler.

Kirby, who was getting ready to smoke a joint with a friend and enjoy the Hawaiian sunset, was shocked to see Milton and Michael coming in from these massive waves.

Kotlar could not believe his eyes.

Agog, Kotlar incredulously asked the Willis's point blank, "Were you two really riding those waves out there?"

The answer was yes.

The Willis brothers, Milton and Michael, went to the remote edge of human experience and lived to come back and tell the story.

It was Robbie Page who aptly named outside Paumalu "Devil's Garden," the Holy Grail of extreme big wave surfing.

Only three people on planet Earth have ever been proven to have surfed a 100-foot wave or bigger - Ace Cool at Outer Pipeline, Oahu, and Milton Willis and Michael Willis at Outer Sunset Beach, Oahu.

In the world of extreme big wave surfing, Ace Cool became chairman of the board, and the world-famous Willis brothers, Milton and Michael, rose to the top and became the current CEOs.

The sacred Kingdom of Hawaii officially holds the record for the biggest waves ever surfed and remains the number one big wave surfing spot in the world, scientifically supported and backed up by surfers' testimonials, eyewitness accounts, and photographic evidence.

All glory to the highest power that creates not only 100-foot waves but also the power of the entire ocean that resides within each and every one of us.

Glory to the highest power.


Words by Milton B. Willis and Michael C. Willis | Surfers and Authors of the Book "100-Foot Wave"

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In an emotional message shared on his social media accounts, Filipe Toledo announced his withdrawal from the remainder of the 2024 Championship Tour season.

Surfers tend to think they perform better than they actually do.

He calls himself a multi-sport athlete, and you can barely describe him better. Meet Chuck Patterson, the world's greatest wave skier.

Barron Mamiya and Caitlin Simmers claimed the 2024 Pipe Pro at Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii.