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Measuring Wave Heights
"Two Perspectives From Hawaiians"

Bud Williams' Wave Height Figure
Wave Scale, Judging Wave Height and Calling Waves "Hawaiian Scale"
(Rideable portion of the wave, trough to crest)


Source:  Bud Williams' Wave Lust, http://www.wavelust.com/faq.html#size

When describing the surf we take on, I usually refer to the size by feet or "_x overhead" (2xoh = 2 times overhead, etc.), measured (my best guesstimate) from trough to crest (the wave face). The intent is to give an idea of the rideable portion of the average waves and biggest sets encountered. I stopped using "Hawaiian Scale" to avoid all the confusion it caused.

- Bud Williams


An article by Oahu's Neal "Sponge" Miyake appears in AroundHawaii.com entitled "Hawaiian Scale: Measuring Wave Heights in Hawaii."  The article does an excellent job of covering the mythology surrounding surfers' wave height estimating while pointing out that an additional element bears consideration: intensity of the wave. Neal caveats his suggestion as he noted, "Of course, this would add yet another level of confusion to the mix, since "heaviness" is an even more subjective attribute."


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Last updated on: 05/03/03