Fixing boards can be a bitch. Here's some easy step by step tips on how to seal up your stick
Monday, January 25, 2010
This surreal image of Laird Hamilton stunned the surf world and inspired a growing contingency of slab hunting tow surfers to go bigger than ever.
As in most things in life, the world of surfing is cyclical, yet within the cycles we see changes. While in the 90’s surfers wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the tight neon board shorts of the 80’s, during the first decade of the new millennium they became cool again. In the 1990’s it was all about the potato chip thin, needle sharp boards popularized by “new school” surfers such as Kelly Slater. Nowadays Slater prefers short, stubby boards that would have been scoffed at ten years earlier.
The retro trends of the 2000’s were for many a nostalgic look into the past for answers to present questions, but for others just another way to look cool at the beach. Surfing is what you make of it. To those who don’t know any better, the trends or shifts in surfing culture simply dictate what size board or color shirt to wear, but for those truly involved, they point towards either making surfing more functional, accessible, and like Kelly’s shift to shorter boards, just more fun.
As we enter this new decade, it will be interesting to see what route the world of surfing will take, and how the memories, events, and trends of past will shape the way we perform and look at our sport. Here are 5 interesting stories and phenomena that capture some of the spirit of the 2000’s.
1) Laird’s Millennium Wave- Photos of Laird Hamilton navigating an enormous barrel at the infamous Tahitian reef known as Teahupo’o surfaced on the web in August 2000, shocking the surf community to the core. Hamilton, a dedicated and well respected waterman, has always pushed the limit, but this one ride was the pinnacle of his career, one that redefined what was thought possible-a monstrous, unbelievable, and surreal looking 25 foot slab that defied imagination.
2) Quiksilvers Young Guns- Funded by Quiksilver a handful of some of the world’s best young surfers, accompanied by Kelly Slater, scoured the Mentawaii island chain off the Coast of Sumatra in Indonesia in search of perfect waves, documenting the action all the while for their highly acclaimed, “Young Guns” surf flicks. On three separate occasions, Slater and a crew of high profile young surfers- guys like Dane Reynolds, Clay Marzo, and Ry Craike, proved themselves as future innovators of the sport, ripping defenseless Indonesian waves with reckless abandon. Helicopters, Jet ski’s, and 5star treatment aboard the luxurious Indies Trader 4 may have cost the surf wear giant a pretty penny, but the series has been a big hit- not only a successful marketing ploy by Quik, but also serving as a great platform for current super stars such as Julian Wilson to showcase their skills to the world.
3) The Slater/ Irons rivalry- The first half of the 2000’s was all about the intense, dramatic, and at times see-saw battle for surfing dominance between Kelly Slater and Andy Irons. Irons, the hardheaded upstart, emerged from the 90’s as a focused, calculating, and cutthroat competitor. In fact, as Irons found his competitive rhythm flower, he became one of the few athletes able to ruffle Slater’s feathers, who had dominated the WCT during the 90’s. As the two squared of in several nail biting world title chases, the surf media fed on the drama and exaggerated it a bit, because it helped sell magazines. As Slater observed to Transwordsurf.com in 2008,“Hype creates great situations in sports. It definitely gets overdone, but it’s also not without merit. There’s a reality to feelings and situations in those places, but it gets fed by the media in a negative way—most often that doesn’t really help you as a person but does help you as a competitor to focus” Recently the two seemed to have squashed the beef by traveling together in a free surf boat trip. Documented in the film entitled, “A Fly in the Champagne”, the trip served as a chance for the two to put aside their differences to travel to Indonesia together to surf as friends.
4) Clark Foam Scare- One man, Gordon “Grubby” Clark, was able singlehandedly to put the surfboard industry on hold when he decided to shut down his surfboard foam business, Clark Foam, in 2005. Controlling a monopoly on polyurethane surfboard foam blanks for decades-quite often through ruthless business tactics-Clark sent a wave of panic through the industry, as the supply of blanks suddenly sent shapers on a quest for alternative sources of foam, which in turn sent up the price of boards through the roof. While Doomsday scenarios of a world without surfboards have been put to rest, many shapers got busy looking for different ways to get their precious foam blanks. While the blank scare raised the prices of boards, the craft actually may have benefited from Clark’s rash decision to cut and run. Now, shapers are not only looking to different sources of foam, they are also introducing new, innovative, and environmentally friendly materials for board production, such as “biofoam”(polyurethane foam made locally with less hazardous materials), sugarcane blanks, and bamboo stringers, just to name a few.
5) Attack of the Groms- During the late 00’s, surf brands began showcasing their mini-me like pro surfers, many of whom had barely reached puberty, in a high percentage of their advertising campaigns. For a time it seemed as though every magazine you leafed through had surfers under the age of 16 on every other page. Rumors of big money contracts put the spotlight on these young rippers. Many of the older, struggling pros grumbled at the new focus on youth, yet the surfing of some of these kids was so impressive that it could not be ignored. Not to be defined simply as tools of the industry, many of these youngsters, including John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Evan Geisleman, and Santa Cruz’s own Nat Young have proven themselves worthy of the spotlight, in some ways not only keeping up with their elders, but surpassing them. Young has established himself as a distinguished competitor, racking up numerous national titles, a spot on the Gold winning US Team, and even a 4 star WQS victory, right here at his favorite break, Steamer Lane. Andino is hot on Young’s trail, with a recent win at the NSSA Nationals Open Men’s division, and numerous scalpings of veterans of the WQS in the select events he’s entered this year. These kids have been well groomed to chase the dream of a world title, and there’s nothing holding them back. Believe the hype.
Cody Clearing a meaty section in Maui
In the world of extreme sports, the hairy edge is getting hairier. It wasn’t’ t enough for motocross demon Travis Pastrana to go careening around tight courses with bone-shaking jumps, he had to redefine himself by driving rally cars, sky diving, and most impressively, flinging himself off a ramp, into the Grand Canyon, armed only with a parachute and pads in a hellish hybridization of Motocross and BASE cliff jumping that could have easily left him deceased. On Youtube, you can find videos of guys SUP’ing down crazy whitewater rapids in the notoriously perilous Gauley River in West Virginia.
How did these thrill seekers decide to combine completely different sports into something entirely new and potentially fatal? How do you make something that is already considered “extreme”, even more incredible? Now we’ve got local extreme skiing legend Cody Townsend taking his alpinethrill ride to the ocean, strapping on skis instead of a surfboard, to shred mountains of water.
Townsend grew up surfing in Santa Cruz just like all the other kids in his childhood neighborhood of Pleasure Point. Unlike most of his peers, however, Townsend had another calling that pulled him away from the surf.
“I was always the weird skier kid that went missing on the weekends heading up to Tahoe” recalls Townsend of his early years. It wasn’t long until Townsend’s skiing skills gained worldwide recognition, earning him numerous competitive titles, as well as high profile roles in freeride ski flicks. All the while, he always stayed true to his surfing roots, moving back to Santa Cruz during the off-season to regain his saltwater fix. Townsend’s love of surfing, what he calls “the yin and yang” of his skiing, was where he first got the idea of combining the two.
“ I got the idea to ski on a wave was when I was about 12 years-old. I distinctly remember carefully watching the waves and realizing that the slope of a wave was similar to the slope of a mountain. From that moment I knew it was possible to ski on a wave,” Townsend said of his initial revelation. While uncertain of how to exactly pull it off, Townsend told himself that one day he would combine his two favorite things on earth, and the idea of skiing on a wave has been in the back of his mind ever since.
This year, Townsend and his good friend Mike Douglas decided to put the theory to test.For the research they took a little bit of information from a couple of people that they had heard about attempting to ski waves. Chuck Patterson, Dave Kalama and Cambell Farrell had given the wave-skiing a go, but from the information they had gathered, they had been pretty unsuccessful. The skis weren't fast enough, the boot/binding system wasn't stiff or safe enough and serious beatings were doled out on most attempts.
After that they headed out to the lakes and towed behind boats on tons of different skis and boot/binding systems. They tried out 4 or 5 boot and binding set-ups and quickly figured out that the typical alpine ski boots and ski binding set-up was the absolute safest and highest performing. For the skis, snow skis ended up being not manageable at all on water, so they had some custom water-skis made for them and utilized called wake skis, which are twin-tipped water skis designed to be ridden wake to wake, on rails or with a winch.
This November, Townsend and Douglas flew to Maui to test out their theory. Townsend chose Maui for it’s legacy of innovation in innovation in ocean sports.
“From Rush Randle to Laird Hamilton, Maui has always been quite open to innovation and since our project was about as far off the wall as it gets it was good to have a community that welcomed us. Plus they've got some pretty good waves.”
After all the testing on lakes they thought they had figured out what would work the best but after getting out into the waves, they realized that the technology for the skis is decades behind anything in surfing. Because of the impossibility of getting into a wave while strapped into the ski’s, Townsend and Douglas used Jet Ski’s to tow them into the surf. What they found was that it was extremely difficult, but thrilling and exciting at the same time. At first, they wanted to ski like a surfer would surf; hitting lips, punting airs, getting barreled.
Ultimately, that proved to be harder to do than it was to imagine. “The skis were much trickier to ride a wave on than I could have imagine. Hard cutbacks and big bottom turns were out of the question. But on the fourth day of riding we did start to figure it out, we did manage to hit the lip and even boost some airs, re-enter the wave and keep going. So although it wasn't as perfect as imagined, we started to touch on the potential”, says Townsend of their initial attempts.
“If I could, I'd scrap every ski we had and redesign everything,” Douglas agrees, “It was a bit of a challenge to pump the wave for speed, like you do on a surfboard, but I think this had more to do with our ski design than just being on two skis”. Furthermore, Douglas adds, “If someone was motivated they could go a long way with it and do some impressive stuff. It would take somebody with some good resources and patience though, because it's definitely not easy to get out there and ski on waves”
Townsend and Douglas tried to take everything they knew about surfing and everything about skiing and combine the technologies to make something work, but in the end it actually took riding on waves to figure out that something entirely different would have to be created to ski on wave with the same level of performance as a surfer. Like Pastrana, who in an interview with Motopress.com called his Grand Canyon moto/BASE jump, “ A quick rush, but it was the best thing in the world”, Townsend and Douglas are simply adrenaline junkies looking for something new to quench their thirst for thrills.
In this case, Townsend wants to make it clear that all he wanted to do is fulfill his childhood dream of combining his two lifelong passions.
“I definitely wanted to say that we have zero intentions of creating a new sport. Logistically it's extremely hard to do, it's far more dangerous than normal surfing and for riding waves isn't as efficient as a surfboard. Ultimately all we wanted to do is see if it was possible. So in my opinion no one has to worry about all of sudden seeing skiers crowding line ups”
Not as easy as it looks
America, land of the free. A glorious nation where individuals have the right to gorge themselves endlessly on cheap, processed junk passed off as food. In this land of the double cheeseburgers and chili cheese dogs, overweight people of all walks of life are facing a future of health problems, including the many conditions associated with obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes.
As America struggles with their widening waistline’s, it only natural that they turn to Hollywood for weight loss inspiration. The latest craze in the world of health and fitness is the Stand-Up Paddle board, also known as an SUP. Celeb’s such as Jennifer Anniston, Pierce Brosnan, Sandra Bullock, Kate Hudson, and Julia Roberts are just a few examples of high profile actors using SUP’ing to help stay in shape and sculpt a rock hard core. This new health craze is literally “sweeping” the nation.
Stand-Up paddling involves using a large paddle, usually made of aluminum or carbon, to steer and propel a large surf craft that almost resembles a mix between a paddleboard, windsurf board, and surfboard. These boards, which usually begin at about 9’ and can reach lengths of up to 15’. are usually constructed with polyerestene core’s, and protected by glass-reinforced plastic construction which utilizes epoxy. They are quire wide as well about 30 inches, usually weigh 25-30 pounds.
By standing erect and propelling yourself with the kayak-like oar, you can really get these boards going. The trick is finding your balance and learning to switch stances and maneuver your paddle smoothly as you do so. The balance needed to maintain a steady speed and core strength required to turn the board effortlessly is tremendous, and it’s by no means easy.
While the celeb’s have been flocking to the Stand Up Paddle fitness routine in the droves, seasoned watermen haven’t stopped using the method to train and maintain their sea legs. Surf icon Laird Hamilton has helped increase it’s popularity, and big-wave charger Garret McNamara has been known to use the hefty crafts at waves of extreme consequence, such as Oahu’s Pipeline and Tahiti’s Teahupoo.
As the sport grows, so do the crowds, and they are beginning to frequent popular surf spots. With such heavy boards and unwieldy paddles, having Stand-Up Paddlers sharing the lineup with surfers can get a bit treacherous. According to State Lifeguard Blake Anderson, it comes down to making sure those who are enjoying the waves are safe, and for those who are inexperienced and lack proper training, sometimes crowded surf breaks might not be the best place to learn.
“Because of their size, SUP's (like longboards) are not as maneuverable as short boards, so if the user doesn't have a lot of experience they can pose a threat to other water users in tight areas like surf lineups. Also they are very heavy so if someone was to be struck by a board in the water it could do more damage than a traditional short board”, says Anderson of the presence of SUP’s in water populated by surfers and swimmers.
While surfers may have to contend with some dangerous beginning Stand Up Paddlers from time to time, there is a large group of people dedicated to promoting the sport in such a way that the proper etiquette and knowledge can be successfully adopted by those who choose to pursue the sport. Kayak Connection, located next to the Harbor, offers SUP classes, for those interested in staying in shape while enjoying the soothing waters of our beautiful coastline.
They offer 2 hour one time introductory classes as well as two and three part series spread over a few weeks. Each of the classes in a series is 2 hours long. They provide the SUP board and paddle as well as a wet suit, PFD (life jacket), and the experienced instructors, all of whom are CPR/First Aid certified They also offer SUP tours, and they always stress teaching their students all the necessary tools and techniques they’ll need to maintain their skills.
Kayak Connection employee Katrina adds that, “Safety is one of the most important factors we stress. Our paddlers travel in and out of the harbor so it is important to respect the traffic laws of the harbor as well as the general safety rules of the ocean i.e. don't paddle into swim zones, yield to other vessels, etc. We are also very respectful of marine wildlife and always stress keeping the appropriate distance mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act at all times”
Pete Stirling, Marketing Manager of Waterman’s sunscreen, is someone who spends his life in the water, surfing, paddling, and from time to time, Stand-Up paddling. His company, Waterman’s sponsor’s some of the top aquatic athletes, studs like Rob Rojas and Chuck Patterson. Stirling believes, like the folks at the Kayak Connection, that misinformation is one of the biggest threat the sport faces as it grows.
“ It’s a cultural problem,” says Stirling, “People with no experience, people who may not be familiar with the ocean, see the SUP’s in the fitness magazine, and then start on rivers and lakes. What’s gonna happens when they paddle out to the ocean, which is raw and unpredictable? Beginners need the proper guidance plain and simple”
For now Stand Up Paddling and it’s enthusiasts are here to stay. Their reach is astounding, with SUP scenes popping up in places like Lake Fulsom and Lake Tahoe. A great workout and according to Santa Cruz Harbormaster Tim Morely, “A great way to get more man powered vessels out in the Monterey Bay”, Stand Up Paddling provides surfers and curious land lubbers a great way to enjoy our local waters without polluting or disturbing our fragile wildlife.
Every surfer's nightmare
Forget the giant surf and flock of ratings chasing rippers who’ve been shredding our beloved breaks this past week. This year, instead of the heartwarming tale of a local freckled faced prodigy’s career jump starting win, the real story of the O’Neill Coldwater Classic has nothing to do with competition at all. What’s got everyone talking involves a young professional surfer and his first encounter with the baddest local around, the Great White Shark.
This past Thursday, twenty-one year old Eric Geiselman , from New Smyrna Beach, Florida went out free surfing up the coast at Laguna’s, a popular wedge beach break that offers up some fun surf when the waves are small in town. Gieselman, who had a heat the next day, was trying to get a bit of last minute practice in, and was floating on his board when he felt a powerful force smash his board from underneath.
“ I knew it was a shark right away,” recounts Geiselman of his first reaction to the attack. “ The water was swirling and my leg connecting with the thing. It was solid”
The Great White Shark, aka “Whitie”, or “the Man In The Grey Suit”, is perhaps a surfer’s greatest nightmare. Here in the chilly waters of Central California, Great White’s live, reproduce, and eat…a lot. What’s on this hungry hunter’s menu? The staple of this giants menu are Elephant Seals, whose thick blubber and hefty size prove a tasty, filling meal for ‘ol Whitie.
In the past, there have been attacks at Waddell, Davenport, and Scott’s Creek to name a few. The last attack close to Santa Cruz was down in Marina, where twenty-four year old Todd Endris was mauled while surfing. Half Moon Bay surfer Tim West was hit back in 2005 while paddling out to Maverick’s on a small day, but survived with only teeth scrapes on his big-wave gun.
Despite the presence several thousand pound killing machine’s, surfing the assortment of reefs and beach breaks North of Santa Cruz can be extremely rewarding. The waves up north can pack a punch, offering a change of scenery from the weekend crowds of Santa Cruz. When Waddell Creek is overhead and glassy with only a few guys out, sometimes the thought of sharks is the last thing on your mind. Chances are, like Geiselman, you’re going to paddle out no matter what.
So should you worry about being attacked by a shark? Apparently you are more likely to die from a whole range of other things, including toilet related injuries (don t ask), killer bees or, much more likely, being killed in a car crash on the way to the beach. Doctors put more stitches into random cuts on the feet from sharp coral than into shark bites! According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), for the years 1959-2008 there were 84 Shark attacks off the coast of California, and 6 fatalities.
When you break the numbers down, it doesn't even sound as scary as swine flu! While these statistics may embolden local surfers who enjoy surfing in areas where sharks frequent, remember that numbers and averages can be deceiving. Before you paddle out to Ano Nuevo island in your Beef Jerky wetsuit with a bloody nose, take a look at these 12 tips to avoid a shark attack
1) Don't tease or entice sharks. (OK, this isn’t’ t rocket science.)
2) Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species ofsharks may move inshore to feed on fish. Sharks are well equipped tolocate prey even when visibility is poor. (Surfing in the dark is dangerous anyways! What would you’re mother say?)
3) Stay away from dead animals in the water. (Actually this a pretty goodrule regardless of sharks.)
4) Avoid areas where animal, human, or fish waste enter the water.(Sorry, I know that s going to be tough for some of you.)
5) Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, channels, and steep drop-offs.These areas are frequented by sharks. (Leave the Harbor Mouth to me.).
6) Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange and yellow are said to berisky colors) or shiny jewelry (which may appear to be like fish scales).Sharks see contrast very well. (In other words, this is yet another reasonnot to wear your pink wetsuit, even if it means you might not get “the shot“)
7) Refrain from excessive splashing. Keep pets, which swim erratically,out of the water. (Unless your pet is a amphibious Rhinoceros. That would be some fight!)
8) Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. (Quickly Iget, but calmly?)
9) If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. Theymay be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area. ( Err, wouldn’t worry so much about the turtles around here)
10) If you feel something brush up against you, get out of the water. (Clearly!)
11) Always surf with a buddy (Unless he’s a wave hog.)
12) And make sure you can paddle faster than him. (Better get to the gym!)
Despite slashing his way through the Local Trials, Tyler Smith unfortunately couldn't make it out of his first heat in the Main Event
This year, the O’Neill Coldwater Classic has been elevated to 6* Prime status, meaning an increased purse, more crucial World Qualifying Series points, and an all star cast of big league professional surfers looking to improve their standings and win some cold hard cash. In the past, when the contest was rated lower, there were more slots open for local surfers to compete in the Main Event. Now, not only is tougher for local WQS competitors to attain a seeded spot into the event, there are only two spots available into the round of 128, awarded to the first and second place finishers of the Local Trials finals.
The Local Trials, which ran yesterday morning under tranquil blue skies, gave sixteen local surfers a chance at attaining these two coveted spots in the Main Event. The first heats were hotly contested, and although the incoming Northwest swell was a welcome sight yesterday morning, the high tide conditions left competitors scrambling though the lineup as they tried to pick off the inconsistent set waves.
“I’ve never surfed the Lane like this. All the places we usually surf, like the Point, or the Slot, were definitely not a factor today,” said twenty three year old trialist and Capitola resident, Matthew Myers, “It felt really unfamiliar out there. The waves didn’t really seem to have a lip. It was all about carves and cutbacks”
Despite the tricky conditions, the local surfers showed the visiting pro’s how to make the most of the Lane’s ever changing moods. Locals such as Jimmy Herrick, Omar Etcheverry, and Austin Smith-Ford surfed well in their first heats, advancing to the semi finals where they came up short of making the four man final. Although the tide began drawing out and the waves seemed to be building by the minute, the conditions for the final were extremely difficult.
Locals Matt Myers, Bud Freitas, Tyler Smith, and Brandon Barnes overcame the bump and managed to put together some good scores. Barnes, a nineteen year old Aptos resident received a bye into the event when Peter Mel, who was slated to compete in the Trials, decided to hold out in hoped of attaining an alternate spot in the Main Event. Despite linking together a few nice rides, Barnes was unable to keep his momentum going in the thirty five minute final.
“I didn’t think I was gonna even get in the Trials, but I did and even though I didn’t make the Main Event I’m stoked to get a chance to compete,” said Barnes of his run in the Trials.
In the end, it was the Westside’s own Tyler Smith, who stole the show using his local knowledge to pick off a number of excellent rides, negotiating the Lane’s bumpy walls with a smooth and precise backhand attack.
“ I haven’t been surfing that much lately but it felt good to win,” recounts Smith of his performance in the Trials. “Some of those heats were wave catching contest, When the waves came through it was fun, but today wasn’t the best direction for the Lane”
Bud Freitas used his powerful technique to take 2nd place, securing himself a spot in the Main Event along with Smith, while Barnes and Myers got sent home packing. As the day progressed, the tide drew out and the surf started pumping, with an uncharacteristically warm November sun leaving spectators wishing they were cooling off in the chilly emerald green water along with the competitors. The first fourteen Round of 128 heats were completed, and right out of the Local Trials, Smith and Freitas were thrown back into the contest singlet to bring their game to the host of hungry international adversaries.
Unfortunately, neither Smith or Freitas were able to advance from their respective heats. For Smith, the result is bittersweet, going from victory to defeat in a matter of hours.
“ I’m out of practice and it was hard to surf three heats in the Trials and then go straight into another one in the Main Event. It was pretty mushy out there and I guess I just ran out of gas,” said Smith of the end of his streak.
Freitas experiences a major upset in his heat against Ricky Whitlock, Ryan Arther, and Stuart Kennedy. Having made the semi-finals last year, he was a major favorite coming into this year’s event. With his vicious forehand snaps and smooth, swooping cutbacks, Freitas is a constant standout at the Lane, and his early round loss this year shows just how tough the event has become with it’s 6* Prime rating.
“I wish it didn’t happen that way,” said Freitas of his loss. “ I gotta just look forward to next year when I can give it another shot. Now I’m hoping to see one of my friends take it. I’d actually really like to see Ratboy win the thing”
The only local surfer to advance today was Noi Kaulukukui, whose last minute heroics got him the scores to advance into the Round of 96, where he’ll face last years champion and the pride of the Westside, Nat Young. Other local surfers yet to surf in the event include Kieran Horn and Jason “Ratboy” Collins, who will surf tomorrow as the last two heats of the Round of 128 are completed and Round of 96 commences. Get down to the Lane to check out the action or log onto www.coldwaterclassic.net for the Live Webcast.
Tim's a nice guy, but he likes to put the hurt on waves, like this insider @ Mav's
All over the world, there are natural wonders which seem to radiate mystical energy and raw power, places that command awe and demand respect. Mt. Everest. The Amazon. The Artic. Victoria Falls. At places like these, one sight can leave you breathless, and one false move can leave you dead. Despite the risks, there are always some brave (or crazy, you decide) individuals willing to risk their lives by putting themselves at the mercy of Mother Nature’s nastiest conditions.
More often than not, it’s the locals who have the most experience and in-depth knowledge of what it takes to survive such endeavors. Here in Central California, we’ve got our own extreme natural wonder, and it’s a doozy. Located in Half Moon Bay, the colossus known as Maverick’s is a surf spot that almost shouldn’t be surfed. The waves at Maverick break violently over treacherous reef, deadly displays of power that seem to rock the entire ocean.
Every winter, giant swells unload over the craggy rocks, and every winter there are dozens of big-wave enthusiasts ready to take a stab at conquering one of the murderous, yet intoxicatingly thrilling set waves. Over the years, there’s been a crew of Half Moon Bay locals who have dedicated their lives to surfing their beloved home break, and in the process have become some of the most skilled, wave-savvy surfers in the lineup. Guys like Ion Banner and Travis Payne from Pacifica.
Much like the Hawaiians of Oahu’s North Shore or the Balinese, these local surfers have to accommodate a seasonal circus of big name visiting pros, intense media coverage, and high profile contests, which bring increased attention and crowds to their beloved break every year. This year, the drama and hype surrounding the yearly Maverick’s surf contest has reached an all time fever pitch. Petty politics and concerns over increased corporate involvement have overshadowed the real reasons why the contest is so special.
Rather than dwell on the negative, I thought I’d catch up with Half Moon Bay local and Maverick’s standout, Tim West Jr., to ask him a few questions about the wave, the event, and what it means to be a local Maverick’s surfer.
Tim, When did you first hear of the wave out at Maverick’s? What was it like surfing it for the first time?
I heard about Mavericks in the early 90's when photos were first being published in surf magazines. One stormy day riding home on the school bus in 6th grade I'll never forget seeing a huge wave breaking out there and that’s how I figured out where it was. When I first paddled out it was such a memorable experience. The amount of water focusing in one spot was like no other wave I'd ever surfed before. There were only 4 guys out on a picture perfect day. It was such an accomplishment for me to make the paddle out because I had been working up to it for so long. I went for the first left that came my way and paid my dues right away. A very memorable day for sure.
Who are some of the local standouts who you’ve looked up to throughout your career?
Well there are a lot of local standouts that have charged Mav’s who stay on the underground like Ion Banner, Jim Tjogas, Tony Canadas, Curt Myers, Alan Nelson, Steve Dwyer, and Mike Kimsey, who inspired me to try surfing the place when I was growing up. These are the kind of local surfers who not only take the time to give you knowledge of how to surf the wave, but also go out of their way to find you a board to surf and make the paddle with you to the peak. Over the years of surfing I've met so many people from around the world who come to surf here and every one of them has influenced me in one way or another. Jay Moriarty definitely tops the list because he charged huge waves with a positive attitude in and out of the water.
What does it mean to be a local contestant in the Maverick’s contest? Do you feel the local contingency is fairly represented in the event?
It is an honor to be in the contest. I've looked up to Ion Banner all my life for being the local Maverick’s charger all of my life, and to be in the same lineup with him is a dream come true. There are a lot of locals in the area who have their feet deeply rooted in the sand here. The support they give is very motivating and pushes us to charge harder each session. I feel that there should always be a local surfer in the contest, even when Ion and I get too old to paddle out. This year we have about fifteen to twenty surfers from the area who are in the lineup stepping it up each session and a bunch of groms at the jetty who are definitely going to be out there one day. The future looks solid for the local contingency in the lineup at Mav’s. I'm always going to reflect he teachings I've learned from my mentors and share it with them.
What does it feel like to share home break with the top big wave surfers in the world? How does this push you and your fellow competitors?
I'm stoked to share the peak with visiting surfers who bring respect to the lineup. Surfing with guys like Greg Long, Al Mennie, Grant Baker, Jamie Sterling, pushes me to surf on that level. Just about every big wave surf spot in the world is represented out there. So its cool talking with them about their waves and getting the chance to go visit other big wave arenas worldwide. What tops it all off is the friends I've gained from surfing Mavericks over the years. A wave may last 10 seconds but a friendship lasts a lifetime.
How would you like to see the future of the Maverick’s competition?
I would like to see the Maverick’s competition be seen as a positive event for the surfing community worldwide and just as respected as the Eddie at Waimea Bay. It should represent how the local crew would like the surfing community to see it, which is as a respected heavy big wave that holds a contest full of surfers passionate about the ocean and the local community surrounding it. Just about every surfer in the lineup is out there from day one because they have a passion to surf big waves and push their own limits. Thirty nine surfers would then chosen to be on the contest list for being standouts in and out of the water. That’s how I envision the contest through my eyes.