Mike Stewart needs no introduction.

Regarded as “the godfather of bodyboarding,” anyone that has ever picked up a bodyboard and slid inside a barrel knows of the legendary Hawaiian waterman.

And anyone worth their salt knows that when Mike talks; you listen.

So we asked Mr Stewart to give us the five most important waves of his illustrious bodyboarding career.

These can include individual waves, certain breaks or even waves that they have seen in their career – either in a video section or real life. We left it to the riders to decide how they wanted to approach the question.

Photos by Matt Castiglione and Kevin Starr

Kona reefs, Hawaii

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Mike Stewart, reverse hack. Photo Kevin Starr

It was the shallow conditions in Kona that drove Tom Morey to create the craft he did. Certain type of waves with enough power and shape and in relative isolation (free from peer pressure) that allowed me to try many of the moves I could imagine. Before videos, and the Internet, outside (bodyboarding) influence were limited to a handful of local riders and the occasional magazine article. Through imagination, trial and error I learned so many of the basic building block moves. So much so, that by the time I had begun my competitive charge I had developed most of the moves necessary to compete at a high level.

Sandy Beach, Hawaii

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While not the most amazing of waves, I have this on my list as this spot was really the “primordial soup” of progressive bodyboarding. There was a time when all the top bodyboarders in the world lived in Hawaii and Sandy’s is where they converged.

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What makes Sandy’s so significant is the synergy that was amongst the riders at the time when the sport was developing. Visibility and proximity to the parking lot meant no waves were unnoticed. It was easy to watch and learn from the best, and all the top riders were influenced by each other.

Pipeline, Hawaii

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Mike Stewart, Pipeline. Photo: Struntz

Arguably the most significant wave in bodyboarding, and likely for all wave riding. No other wave has meant so much, to so many. World titles have been won and lost, careers built and destroyed, 1 to 18-foot lefts, rights, barrels of a lifetime, ramps of a lifetime, injuries for a lifetime.

MikeStewart-PipelineEasily the most revered and intense crowd on the planet. Pipeline is the alpha-wolf of breaks on so many levels.

Jaws, Hawaii

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Mike Stewart taking on Jaws which scored the cover of Riptide Issue #51.

After surfing the outer reefs on the North Shore for close to 20 years and thinking I had a pretty good understanding of waves in the upper size limit, along comes Jaws. A completely different level magnitude when it comes to rideable barrels.

Teahupoo, Tahiti

The closest you can come to paradise and hell on earth, and they can both be only moments apart. In many ways, Teahupoo is similar to Jaws for me; in that just when you think you have seen it all, along comes something that just blows away your previous ideas on reality.

Seeing big Teahupoo for the first time did exactly that. One of the most magical places on earth is now unfortunately one of the most exploited. While I wasn’t the one to take the first cameraman there, back then none of us had any idea what a firestorm this (images of the wave) would create in the surfing world.This was before the social media mania that wannabe heroes are armed with today.

See also:

THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT WAVES OF RYAN HARDY’S CAREER

THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT WAVES OF JEFF HUBBARD’S CAREER

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