After hanging out in beautiful Point Arena for a few days, it was always going to be a gamble when the swell forecast showed a good low on the horizon.
Do I stay and continue to surf in what would probably be some great waves here? It must get epic…
Or do I take a chance and ride 4 hours south to a very dangerous wave that I know nothing about, without the right boards, with no mentor and with the swell hitting within the next 24 hours…? Will it even break? What are the right winds?
Safer bet to stay, I’m guaranteed waves.But it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity… errrsh… it’s a risky move.
I packed up the bike from the cemetery where I’d been camping and hit the road.
Quite a few hours later I was standing on top of a cliff in beautiful Half Moon Bay watching the swell begin to fill in.
I asked a guy on the cliff, Mike, if he knew where to buy a strong leg-rope. We got chatting and he laughed when I mentioned that I was thinking about trying to surf Mav’s on my 7’2”.
A little while later he introduced me to a nice fellah, Jeff Clark. For those of you who might not know, Jeff’s name is synonymous with Mavericks, credited as being the longest and one of the hardest charging surfers out there. Some say he surfed it alone for 15 years before the rest of the world caught on.
A big wave legend.
And yet for someone with this hardcore reputation and the potential for attitude, he turned out be a relaxed and genuinely nice guy.
After chatting for a while, I explained that I was a little under-gunned. Jeff very graciously walked me over to his truck and pulled out a beautiful 10’4”.
I was in awe.
We strapped it to the bike as best as we could. He didn’t even ask for any money, my phone number, deposit or email. Very trusting – very cool.
I bought a gun leggie from his store, Mavericks Surf Shop, and went off to find somewhere to camp for the night.
Figured I may as well camp on the Mavericks beach. Was a beautiful night. But the swell woke me up at 2 in the morning, and I lay awake for at least 2 hours wondering what the hell I was getting myself into.
Amazing hellmen have died out there, Foo and Sion – guys in completely different leagues to kooky me. There’s the shark attacks too. Pretty scary place.
Woke up early and excited – beautiful Californian fall morning.
Made some oatmeal with trailmix, banana and dehydrated milk. Drank water.
Checked the surf, no one out, but the swell’s starting to come up. No way I’m paddling out alone. Nah I don’t think so…
I actually went to the library (yes the library!) and let a few southerly squalls blow through – rain and wind. Maybe I wouldn’t get my window? Oh well…
A few hours later I returned for another look, but before I could make it to the cliff met 2 guys from Santa Cruz in the car park – Dan and Henry who were like:
“We’re not even gonna check it – we’re out there as soon as I get this damn inflatable vest thing on.”
One of the soda bulbs goes off and Dan’s standing there all inflated. We laugh, but deep down I wished I had one too…
Either way they knew what they were doing, having surfed it regularly for years. Dan’s super knowledgeable and friendly, and offers to show me where not to get caught in the boneyard rocks, as well as some lineup points.
Sweet. Clamber into the wettie, wax board, drink water. No matter how much water I drink, my mouth is dry.
Here we go…
Follow them out…
There were only 3 others in the lineup when we paddled out, a few bombs thundered across the reef. It seemed to me that they were pretty legit waves.
I sat and watched for 40 mins or so from the channel, almost a 100m away from the peak, making sure I was far away from it actually. Trying to understand how it breaks.
By that stage a few more crew had paddled out, it was time to get in there.
I ended up getting 5 waves in 4.5 hours that afternoon. Awesome feeling. Blowing my mind out there… The swell increasing, the tide dropping right out, perfect winds – classic conditions.
Although don’t get me wrong, it gets waaay bigger than this day, way gnarlier.
But it wasn’t as small as it gets either.
Below’s a little clip of one of my waves when Curt from Powerlines Productions arrived on the jetski – thanks for the hook up mate. It wasn’t my best wave over the 2 days, but it wasn’t my worst either. I didn’t fall on any. Looking back on it, perhaps I should've - maybe I should've gone harder...
A little embarrassing that I’m shoulder hopping it, but it was a swinger, and I’m probably stoked I wasn’t that guy taking off in the bowl - from memory there were a couple behind it. It did reform nicely.
So yeah as far as waves go at Mavericks it’ll never be remembered by anyone but me, but I’m just stoked I got a few for my first time out there.
Below is a couple of shots from the same swell that’ve popped up on the internet since – it’ll be good to see if anyone puts up the backlit arvo shots from when it was at its best – havn’t seen any yet…?
Many photogs lined the cliffs… we’ll see.
But for the moment…
The next morning wasn’t as clean, but there were still some solid ones coming through.
The wind got into it in the arvo, but for some reason this was when I got my best one…
Sometimes it pays to take a risk...