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Get to know: Makani Adric

The Waimea stand-out Makani Adric won’t back down.
By Jen See
7 min readPublished on
Get to know the women competing in Red Bull Magnitude. In this series, we will introduce a few of the daring women who chase big waves around the world. This time, we meet Makani Adric.
One winter day when Makani Adric was 16, her friends paddled out at Waimea Bay. They’d grown up surfing on the North Shore together, steadily working their way up to more powerful waves. It felt normal to her. “It didn’t really click that these waves were big,” she says.
Makani Adric surfs during Red Bull Magnitude at Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Makani Adric surfs during Red Bull Magnitude at Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

© Christa Funk / Red Bull Content Pool

Adric asked her father if she could borrow his 11-foot board. As she recalls it, he was skeptical, but let her take the board. Adric was not yet five feet tall at the time, but riding giants at Waimea enthralled her.
“I have such a love and passion for surfing, and when I get to surf big waves, it’s super exciting,” she says. “Just the feeling of it — you can’t really compare it to anything else.”
Now 27, Adric has become a stand-out at Waimea. In 2021 she won the People’s Choice Award at Red Bull Magnitude, and this past January Adric was among the first women to compete in the prestigious Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. Anytime a swell lights up Waimea Bay, you can bet that Adric will be out there.
“Whether or not there’s a contest, I just love surfing big waves.”

3 min

Makani Adric - People's Choice Judging Clip for Red Bull Magnitude

First Waves

Every day after school, Adric went to the beach at Haleiwa. “My grandma would take us to the beach, and we had this whole group of kids that would show up,” she says. Everyone surfed, bodyboarded, or swam. At age 7, Adric learned to surf. It was always about fun in those days, and Adric traces her love for big surf to her early experiences playing in the ocean with her friends.
At 11, Adric competed in the Menehune Surf Contest, her first surf competition. She continued to compete in shortboarding events through her late teens. Competing gave Adric the opportunity to travel, but contest surfing didn’t hold her interest. Her love for the North Shore and her close family ties made travel less appealing to her.
“We have some of the best surf in the world,” she says. “It’s hard to compare it to anywhere else. And, the community is very tight. Everyone knows each other.”
Makani Adric surfs at Red Bull Magnitude 2023 at Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Makani Adric surfs at Red Bull Magnitude 2023 at Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

© John Hook / Red Bull Content Pool

Her passion for big-wave surfing began when Adric was 16 in much the same way as her love for surfing. Her friends paddled out; she did, too. “Everything fell into place,” she says. “It was all natural for me.” As she continued her steady progression, the bigger swells at Waimea didn’t feel especially intimidating to her.
Surfing her first big waves at Waimea opened a new world to Adric. The way it felt to slide down the face of a Waimea giant compared to nothing she’d ever experienced. After her first session Adric saw a photo of herself riding a wave. It fired her imagination. “I’d never really seen myself in that nice of a photo and on a wave like that, and just seeing it, motivated me to want to surf Waimea more.”

The Calm in the Storm

The reality of big-wave surfing is that there aren’t that many big swells each year. When she’s not surfing, Adric trains martial arts at Sunset Beach Jiu-Jitsu. She began training Jiu-Jitsu at age 7 around the same time she started surfing.“We were raised to have an athlete mentality,” she says. When her dad went to train jiu-jitsu, she would attend the kids' class.
“Jiu-Jitsu is a really good workout,” she says. “It has taught me how to be more humble and patient. I feel like it also teaches respect, loyalty, and discipline.”
Once she attained her blue belt, Adric worked as an assistant instructor. “We would get some of them coming in and saying, ‘we’re getting bullied,’” she says. Sometimes they wouldn’t have friends at school or they just needed to feel connected. “Teaching these kids was something special and something I like doing for the community.”
Makani Adric surfs at Red Bull Magnitude at Waimea Bay in 2023

Makani Adric surfs at Red Bull Magnitude at Waimea Bay in 2023

© John Hook / Red Bull Content Pool

Surfing and jiu-jitsu remain entwined in Adric’s life. “Mentally, physically, and emotionally, I think surfing and jiu-jitsu calm me — even though I’m getting beat up half the time.” Adric is currently a third-degree brown belt, but she’s not in a hurry. “I’m trying to get my black belt — hopefully in the next ten years.”
In a Jiu-Jitsu match, opponents grapple until one fighter submits. When Adric fights, she has to find ways to escape her opponent and search out their weaknesses. “When someone tries to submit me with a choke, I wonder how I’m going to survive this? Do I tap out or hold on and think of a way to escape?”
Held underwater in big surf, the stakes are infinitely higher than grappling in the gym. “In surfing, if I tap out, I’m going to drown,” she says. The focus Adric has learned from jiu-jitsu buoys her in the ocean. “When I’m surfing big waves, my mentality has to be there,” Adric says. “Am I going to drown or am I going to think of a game plan until I can pop back up? It’s basically my life.” She is the calm in the storm.

A Winter to Remember

Each winter Adric looks forward to the big swells at Waimea. She’s especially come to love the days Red Bull Magnitude is on at Waimea. The event tightens connections among the women in big-wave surfing and offers a showcase for their talents. “When they call the event on, I feel like we are just free surfing,” she says. “It’s a good way to show other girls that you can have fun even if you’re surfing in a contest.”

1 min

Makani Adric


In January 2023, Adric was among the five women who competed in the prestigious Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. Though she received an invitation to a previous edition, the waves were never big enough to hold the event. Even when the Eddie was called on this year, Adric couldn’t believe it. Only when she arrived at Waimea with her family and saw the crowds and heard the waves did she realize it was real.
Though Adric felt nervous on the beach, once she paddled into the lineup she returned to her element. There she was, at beautiful Waimea, where she’d first learned to surf big waves. “It brought me back to my calm state,” she says. “It was such a good moment for me to be out there.” Adric felt proud to be part of the Eddie and to honor Aikau’s legacy. Growing up on the North Shore, she never imagined that it would be possible.
“When I was younger, I would tell myself that it would be so cool if girls got to surf in the Eddie,” she says. “And finally, this year, it was the first year. I guess in a way we made history. We’ve done something no other girls have had the opportunity to do yet.”

Make It Your Own

Looking ahead, Adric wants to experience more of Hawaii’s big-wave breaks. Typically if there’s a big swell, Adric heads straight to Waimea. It’s her homebreak where she feels a deep connection. “Every good session that I’ve had are memories that I keep forever.” She has yet to surf the heavy wave at Himalayas. “There’s so many waves that I actually haven’t ridden, especially when it’s big.”
Try to tell Adric she can’t do it, and she’ll set out to prove that she can. “If I fall down, I’ll do it again and again and again until I get it right,” she says. Adric credits her family with instilling her with confidence and supporting her ambitions. She hopes that she can serve as a mentor to younger surfers who want to chase big swells.
And if there’s a girl out there watching Red Bull Magnitude and wondering if she can someday do it, too, Adric hopes that girl will believe in herself. “You’ll get some people who don’t believe in you, but believe in yourself,” she says. “Do it because you want to do it and make it your own. If you push yourself and work hard, things will fall into place.” For Adric, it all seems to be falling into place just fine.