But earlier in the week, Slater was taking on a very different wave. While standing on the beach near a lifeguard station in Oahu watching the huge swells, he spotted an enormous rogue wave headed for the shore. A woman and her toddler on a footpath were directly in the trajectory, Outside Magazine reported.
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Slater called out but they didn't hear him. The wave was already sweeping them across the busy Kamehameha highway. Slater and several lifeguards leapt into action, helping the two out of the water. Other than cuts, bruises, and sand in the mouth, they were OK.
The woman turned out to be Sarah White, whose pro photographer husband Chris was shooting the surf at the time. They regularly travel to Oahu during surfing season, but this was their first visit with their 22-month-old son, Van.
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"For some random reason I stopped there when I normally don't and happened to be there," Slater wrote on Instagram, commenting on Chris White's update about the rescue. "So glad all is well and we can (someday) laugh about it. Van's first wave was a huge one!"
White expressed gratitude to Slater, the lifeguards, and the surf gods for the rescue, writing on Instagram that he was "so thankful my family is alive and safe." The surf gods certainly smiled on Slater, too.