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[Hawai'i Place Names]
Jaws

Tow-in surf site, windsurf site, Peʻahi, Maui. Jaws was first surfed and named in 1975 by three Maui surfers, John Roberson, John Lemus, and John Potterick. While they were surfing it for the first time, the surf changed abruptly from small, fun waves to huge, dangerous waves. They compared their experience to the unpredictability of an encounter with "jaws," or a shark. The movie Jaws— the story of a big shark that terrorizes a small coastal vacation town—was released the summer before they surfed the site. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie heightened shark awareness nationwide, including in Hawaiʻi. Jaws was first surfed regularly in the early 1990s by windsurfers from Hoʻokipa, and in 1993 Laird Hamilton and Buzzy Kerbox—who with Darrick Doerner had pioneered tow-in surfing on Oʻahu's North Shore in 1992—moved to Maui and introduced tow-in surfing at Jaws. Jaws is now regarded as one of the premier tow-in surf sites in the world, where surfers ride waves 25 to 50 feet high after being towed into the takeoff by motorized personal watercraft. These craft are launched at the boat ramp in Māliko Bay. Also known as Peʻahi.

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Hawaiian Dictionary (Pukui/Elbert dictionary) Copyright © 2003 by University of Hawaiʻi Press,
Māmaka Kaiao Copyright © 2003 by ʻAha Pūnana Leo and Hale Kuamoʻo,
Place Names of Hawaiʻi (Pukui/Elbert/Mookini) Copyright © 1974, 2004 by University of Hawaiʻi Press,
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