Surfing the maverick waves

Graphic showing storms in the Pacific ocean approaching Mavericks, California and the sloping topography of the ocean floor around Mavericks.

A graphic of a wave showing the two largest waves surfed thus far - 78ft in Portugal, 70 plus ft in Cortes Bank, California - and the biggest Mavericks wave at 68 ft.

Why “Mavericks”? “Mavericks got its name from a dog that these surfers had in the early 1960s. They surfed inside the rocks at Mavericks and the dog would paddle out, and they’d have to take it back to the beach. And they ended up calling the waves Mavericks.  “Today, it’s known as the best pure paddle-in surf spot that there is. “

Extract from BBC news article: Conquering the wave that no-one dared to surf

For years Jeff Clark used to watch a giant wave that appears on a California beach known as Mavericks after a winter storm. Then, one day in 1975, he decided to surf it. Here he describes that moment – and how two decades later it became one of the most famous, or infamous, surfing beaches in the world. Those waves come from 1,000 miles away, and they’re as big as a four-storey building. Can you imagine a four-storey building coming at you at 30 miles per hour and all of a sudden, it hits the curb and topples over on top of you? That’s what it’s like at Mavericks. You have to catch that wave and make it down the face of that wave before it trips and topples over and comes crashing down on you. It’s one of the most exciting things I could ever think to do. I started to watch it and study it and eventually the day came where the conditions were perfect. It was plate glass. The waves were just rhythmic big peaks coming in. When you’re by yourself doing anything that’s on the edge, you’re very calculated, very careful. You don’t do anything that you don’t think you’re going to make 99% of the time. I mean you just can’t afford to make a mistake at that point. So you’re patient.  …

But nobody else was up for surfing it. I drove around for years trying to bend people’s ears – just short of dragging them out there. And they wanted no part of it. Then in 1990, I was able to get two guys to paddle out with me from Santa Cruz, and they went back to Santa Cruz with this tale of this big wave. The next time Mavericks broke, there were 12 guys all ready to charge it and that changed everything. It was a little disconcerting early on. But as the people came and went and they tried and they failed and they tried and they succeeded, it kind of sorted itself out. And the appreciation went back to the wave – that nobody’s going to come and overtake this wave. And that was the consoling thing with sharing it – that it was still going to be Mavericks, and it will take care of itself.

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