Feb 17 2010

Mavericks 2010 Surf Contest – Unbelievable!

Don't look behind you - Photo: Adam Lau / The Chronicle

Now I know this is a snowboard blog and I’ve only surfed once in my life, but after my brother in Santa Cruz  (who has a cool photo blog of his own) sent me a link to these photos, I knew I had to post them. If you’re not familiar with Mavericks, it’s a world famous break located just north of Half Moon Bay, California. Once a year if conditions are right they hold a big wave contest (to put it mildly) that apparently this year put Hawaii to shame.

Is it too late to change my mind? Evan Slater - Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

By all accounts Saturday’s conditions produced the biggest waves ever in a paddle in contest with some estimating faces as big as 60 feet. I always consider surfing to be a cousin of snowboarding with water substituting for snow but except for when it avalanches,  snow banks 5 stories high don’t sneak up from behind and come crashing down on you on a regular basis. I don’t know if you’ve ever been washing machined by a big wave, but it only took one North Shore experience for me to develop a very healthy respect for the incredible power of the ocean.

Oh, that's gotta hurt...Chris Bertish of South Africa (the contest winner) Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

The winner of the contest, Chris Bertish of South Africa found out the contest was being held Thursday, jumped on the first plane out and three flights and 36 hours later finally landed in San Francisco after midnight Saturday – the morning of the contest  – to quickly discover that in the time honored tradition of all airlines, the thing he needed the most, his boards, did not arrive with him. So not only did he endure a nasty case of jet lag, he had to borrow boards from of all people, local legend Jeff Clark, the former contest director and original discoverer of Mavericks who recently filed suit against the current contest promoters – lots of great twists and turns in this story. And if you did happen to see some coverage of the race there’s a good chance it was this video of a rogue wave breaking over the viewing gallery. Here’s another angle from a cell phone video of the wave (and you’ll notice that the viewer thought turning the phone would turn the picture – no such luck). But if you actually want to watch the contest you can see the whole thing on Ustream.

Not the kind of air you're looking for - Ion Banner - Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

While the wipeout of some spectators on the beach looked a little scary, the photos of surfers getting eaten by waves are positively terrifying. You can see all the ones included in this blog plus many, many more at the San Francisco Chronicle’s website coverage of the event along with a print piece by sportswriter Bruce Jenkins. There are also several galleries full of photos at the official Mavericks website along with a cool point of view video shot from a surfboard earlier this year at Mavericks. The Mercury News also put together this nice slide show along with a great article talking about the day from a surfers point of view. This kind of spectacle obviously attracts a lot of photographers but you better have a long lens or a place on a boat as the wave breaks about a half mile from shore. In the end though, it all seems worth if it plays out right for you like it did for the surfers in these photos below…

Looks like fun... Josh Loya - Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

as long as you know you're going to make it out... Photo: Adam Lau / The Chronicle

and look good in the photo! Dave Wassel - Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

Dec 9 2009

Damn that’s cold!

How does Hawaii sound about now? Kelly Slater in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau competition in Waimea Bay, Hawaii held yesterday for the first time in 5 years.  Photo: Michael Goulding/Associated Press

How does Hawaii sound right about now? Kelly Slater in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau competition in Waimea Bay, Hawaii held yesterday for the first time in 5 years. Photo: Michael Goulding/Associated Press

My season has gotten off to a very slow start due to a combination of recovering from shoulder surgery and the general lack of snow in Colorado. This week I was looking to break the drought as my doc says it’s only a pain issue now and big storms were promised. Today was going to be the test drive day for the shoulder and although the storms did not produce as promised for the northern mountains (snowforecast.com actually apologized for over forecasting as is their tendency) it still seemed like a good idea till I saw something in the National Weather Service forecasts that I have never seen before – a “Wind Chill Warning” for the mountains. They’re always posting expected wind chill readings but I guess when it reaches “30 below to 50 below above 10,00 feet” – that merits a warning. So instead I decided to stay home and do some nice warm surfing on the web.

Speaking of surfing, thanks to a huge swell in the Pacific, they held the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau competition in Waimea Bay, Hawaii yesterday for the first time in 5 years.  Strangely enough I first saw something about it in the New York Times which had a small slide show and article. I then went straight to the source on the Quiksilver website where they had a great collection of videos from the event – well worth checking out.

Meanwhile, back in Colorado, the Southern mountains did get pounded with 51 inches on Wolf Creek Pass, 42 inches on Coal Bank Pass, and 46 inches near Irwin Lodge north of Crested Butte.  Further north the highest snow total at a resort was 12″ at Snowmass so not a huge amount of help there but there’s another storm headed our way this weekend so hopefully we’ll have better luck with that. I personally am feeling a strong need to head to Wolf Creek and start my season in style so I’ll be heading there sometime this week – I’ll let you know how it turns out.