Swell of 1939

Not so much an isolated swell as a long season of big waves; the sport's first year-identified big-surf milestone, beginning a chain that continued with the Swell of 1953, the Swell of 1969, and onward. "On May 17th, 1939, the waves got large. and I mean, large," surfing pioneer Wally Froiseth recalled in an interview decades later. "And then they got big, and then they got huge, and then they got monstrous. I haven't seen anything like that before or since."

Weather records from the period ...