Connected by Water
Sion Milosky’s death at Mavericks in 2011 left the big wave surfing community reeling from the loss of another talented surfer. It was a wake-up call. Big wave surfing was advancing faster than safety protocols, and something had to change. Later that year, a group of surfers led by Kohl Christensen and Danilo Couto gathered in Kohl’s barn on the North Shore of Oʻahu and held a CPR course taught by a veteran emergency room nurse. This was the first unofficial meeting of the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG). The following year, BWRAG held its first public summit at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore, expanding its teachings from CPR to first aid, water rescue skills and more.
A couple of years later, veteran Hawaiian lifeguard, surfer and ocean risk specialist Brian Keaulana joined BWRAG at Kohl and Danilo’s invitation, bringing with him decades of ocean safety knowledge that substantially expanded BWRAG’s training offerings. Over the next decade, BWRAG evolved into an international gold standard, holding summits all over the world that covered ocean risk management, CPR and AED training, first-aid medical intervention, spot analysis, mindful breathing and energy management, emergency action planning and water rescue, taught by some of the world’s best emergency response-trained big wave surfers and ocean technicians, including Greg Long, Andrea Moller, Mark Healey, Pam Foster, Jon Hoover, Ryan Hargrave, Ian Akahi Masterson, Liam Wilmott, Ramón Navarro, Otto Flores, Gabriel Villarán, Daniel Ross and Zeb Walsh, to name a few.
Banner image – Photo: Fred Pompermayer.