Mavericks is the everest of Big Wave surfing. One might even say it is the K2, in that it is a little gnarlier, more technical, and colder than some of the other spots for Big Wave surfing. Mavericks is a paddle in contest which adds another element of cool. Not that I have any objection to tow in surfing. But a paddle in contests seem a little more authentic, in that the board the surfer selects has to be long enough to get up to speed to catch a 50 foot swell, yet small enough to be able to have sharp rails to grab and carve on massive speedy swells. Having driven up to this surf spot on a moderate day, I saw it’s massive potential. But with a 50 foot swell it is really in a league of it’s own. Not to mention that it is in 55 degree water.
I managed to see some of the contest on a live broadcast via the internet. This article from the San Francisco Gate Newspaper had a lot of nice pictures of the event, including the one above in this article.
This is a link to the heats information for the surfers.
Chris Bertish of South Africa was selected as the winner of the contest, ousting reigning champ Greg Long of California.
Frankly it is always a little scary that this break is only a few miles up the coast from where I have surfed at Davenport in a Surf Kayak.
Mavericks is not the biggest, or the cleanest – and that’s the point. As for tow surfing, it is much, much easier. You are up and riding before the wave, and have plenty of speed, so can control how deep or how far on the shoulder you go. Paddle in surfing, it’s like dropping off a massive building face first, jumping to your feet, making the bottom and have an avalanche chase you. It’s lumpy, bumpy and rippy as hell.
Mav’s is even worse on a Yak or waveski – you bounce, chop. The wave is going so fast you have to paddle right under the lip to catch it – no shoulder hopping!!
Any big wave is a rush. Just that Mav’s is an easy spot for the spectators and is in Cali. Plenty of big wave spots around.