These waves are over 25 feet, with most of them in the 30-40 foot range. If you wipe out and end up under the break, you can be driven 30+ feet under the surface. Big wave surfing is, it is said, at once extremely dangerous and exhilarating.
The two summers I surfed, first in 1968 (mostly off Honolulu Oahu, or Barber’s Point,) Hawaii, and the next summer, 1969, in South Carolina and Virginia, the biggest wave I tried to ride was a 10+ piece of hurricane surf off of Hilton Head. I crashed and was so impressed by the burn that I swam to shore, waited for my big old Hobie board to wash ashore, and, literally, called it a summer. Oddly, the closest call I ever had was on a tender little five footer at a spot off of Honolulu called Ones and Twos. A soldier on R&R from Viet Nam, who had rented a board probably to go surf for the first time, kicked it my way while missing his take off. I spotted it zeroing in on my head, dove away and crashed into the coral reef.
My pal Teddy had already warned me that there were a lot of servicemen out on the breaks convinced surfing wasn’t so hard that it couldn’t be mastered in a day.