The Panic Response

An overview scan of Oahu bodysurf Mecca, Point Panic.

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In TSJ 27.1, writer Beau Flemister embeds within the microcosm of Point Panic on Oahu, one of the only waves in the world officially zoned for bodysurfing. Through his research, and in conversation with three generations of locals, he quickly comes to a thesis: “Your home break isn’t just a break,” he writes. “It’s an identity. You stray too far and eventually you feel lost. Untethered. Not totally you. You are your home break. Identity is a tough thing to kick.”

Flemister also tracks the wave and its environs from its pre-1940s history as unused marshland, to its late 20th century incarnation as the site of a city landfill, to its current manifestation as a sliver of defensible space surrounded by the creep of urban development. It’s a vivid feature that touches on everything from socioeconomic issues to traditional Hawaiian values to local activism to the joys of aquamarine tubes experienced without a fiberglass middleman.

Pick up a copy of 27.1 to read it if you haven’t already. In the meantime, check out the clip above for an overview scan of the wave and its acolytes.

Footage by Sean Enoka / Edit by Tyge Landa