Posted by admin on December 5th, 2010 | 0 comments
As we all know (or we should know), the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational is ready to rock and roll. That means, if big waves are forecast to find their way to land at Half Moon Bay (Princeton by the Sea), then it’s time for the big dogs with the big sticks to hit the beach. The top big wave riders from around the world will make their way to NorCal for some awesome surfing.
I was thinking about Big Wave riding this weekend as I was checking out the surf conditions at Mavericks. I personally have never surfed big waves (and can I define a big wave as anything over 6 – 8 feet). I’m not really sure why. I’d like to tell you that the occasion never arose but alas, I think I’m a bit spooked of the soup from a wipeout on a Big Wave. And the truth-be-known, I’ve had many an epic day on waves in the 4 – 6 foot range. But the waves at Mavericks – they can get to be over 20 feet.
I’ve been to Mavericks a lot – but always on the beach and never really ready to surf. But I did grow up surfing NorCal waves where the waves are extremely heavy. So multiply my sense of heavy 3-fold and we’re talking some pretty gnarly waves.
And while the waves are big, it’s the threat of a wipeout that gets your mind thinking….what if….
A big wave at Mavericks can push a surfer 20 – 50 feet under water. Dang …. and while the lifestyle of surfing has been marketed to show the energy and raw beauty of surfing as well as the action on the beach (particularly in Southern California), for surfers who surf the big waves at Mavericks, it can be a life and death experience. Unfortunately it was death for Mark Foo, who perished surfing Maverick’s on December 23, 1994. Foo took off on a wave that was almost 20 feet high. He wiped-out and unfortunately paid the ultimate price.
A wipeout surfing big waves is brutal. The first (and worst) thing that can happen is hitting your board on the way down off a steep drop, and becoming unconscious. That may have been what happened to Foo. Once you’ve wiped-out, you’re in the whitewater which has been likened to being a Born to Surf, Surf T (shameless plug) in a washing machine. The spinning is relentless. And once you finally stop spinning, you need to determine which way is up. It’s not as easy as you think because you’re pretty disoriented. So you look up hoping to see light at the top of the water. Surfers may have less than 20 seconds to get to the surface before the next wave hits them. Sometimes the waves come faster and the mass of the wave drags you down until you’re totally sapped of energy. Even in smaller waves this has happened to me. And the water pressure at a 20–50 feet can even rupture eardrums – now that could ruin your day. (what did you say – joke la)
Surfers are tremendous athletes. They need incredible balance as well as an almost surreal understanding and appreciation for the ocean. And they need to be in incredible shape to handle the inevitable wipeout. Can you say, “hold your breath.” And isn’t that what we always do when we see one of these surfers wipe out?
For me, I think I’ll sick to my 4 – 6 foot waves. For the big dogs – that’s why they’re the big dogs. I thoroughly appreciate and respect these dudes!
So what’s up at Mavericks right now? Well at 3:18 PM, on Saturday December 4th, the waves are almost 6 feet. Wind is light at 12 MPH. If the waves cooperate, the Maverick’s Big Wave Invitational will happen between December 1 and February 28th.
Pray for surf … and pray for the safety of the surfers when the Mavericks event “is on.”
Surf’s Up – BTS