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    • January 7th, 2016 was a day of similar swell conditions. This time it was clear skies, and we had drones! So we went back, but everything went wrong. I don't have any media from that day.

      Pro surfer Grant McNamara shattered his arm on a fall on a 25ft wave. We helped him get to an ambulance back at shore.

      Then the boat captain took us out the wrong way. We went over a 20ft wave. My friend Mark was on the bow. He held on for dear life as the boat dove vertically as we went down the other side. His grip was so strong that he held on. He avoided drowning, but in the process, both of his shoulders dislocated. Many tendons and muscles ripped. His rotator cuffs were severely damaged. It took him a year to recover enough to go back to work as a mechanic. Another surfer inside the boat cabin hit a wall and broke a few ribs. Here's a video from a friend of the waves we went over going out.

    • On February 4th, 2016 at 4:50 am, the plain text on an archaic NOAA page for buoy station 46002 off the coast of Medford, OR read:

      2016 02 04 04 50 231 7.9 10.1 6.79 19.05 11.68 292 1023.1 12.0 11.8 999.0 99.0 99.00

      25ft @ 15 sec NNW. Absolutely perfect conditions.

      Everyone was ecstatic. Pure. Sweet. Bliss. That means it's going to hit the reef in just the right direction with just the right force to produce a 50ft wave. Plus, winds are zero. Decades of waiting for this day were over.

      The Hawaiian surf legends landed at SFO. Helicopters fueled at airports around the Bay Area. Fishermen made their way in from their catches to help charter surfers to the break. Trailers of boats and jet skis rallied to the Half Moon Bay harbor.

    • Photographing from the boats still requires a 400mm+ lens for a good shot.
      This time I wanted to get closer. I wanted to get a wider angle shot without telephoto compression. Nimble jet skis can ride up next to the wave. So that's what we did. Jeff Clark drove, and I sat on the back filming. We wore life jackets and wet suits.

    • This was the shot I was dreaming of. This is Kai Lenny, a Hawaiian surf prodigy. He's a next generation big wave surfer. He's 23 years old in this shot.

      He surfed deep into the "bowl" where it barrels. This is the most dangerous place because the wave can collapse him which would push him down 30ft to the ocean floor. This is how people have drowned in the past.

    • I drowned 2 cameras that day but walked away with my best shots. I haven't had a need to go back yet. I'm just so happy with what I witnessed that day.

      I love everything about the Mavericks experience. Feel free to ask me anything about it.

    • Great write-up, Kevin. Oh my God so many memories. I remember being cold, sick, and electric with every hair standing on end with adrenaline.

      Like this time when I hopped in this skiff to take photos and wondered if that little 40 horsepower skiff would get us out of trouble fast enough if a big one came to swallow us. 😱

    • I'm glad to share! It was so fun writing this up because I got to relive the experiences.

      One tidbit I forgot to mention: for the most part photographing Mavericks is extremely boring. It's usually between 5 to 15 minutes between sets. Each set is only a handful of waves that rolls through in a couple of minutes. And the biggest waves come through maybe once or twice a day.

      When you spot a large set in the distance, the surfers frantically paddle to the safety of deeper water. And you spot a 50ft wall of water approach your boat. It's absolutely thrilling and makes the whole experience worth it.

      But most of the time it looks like this πŸ‘‡

    • This photo is incredible, Kevin.
      I have a cautious love for the ocean and a fascination for waves. I've never seen anything anywhere near as big as this though - it must be quite the sight.

    • Not all 40ft waves are created equal. The waves of Mavericks are very square, and that's what makes them so enticing to big wave surfers. They are as wide as they are tall making them some of the most powerful waves in their class.

    • Every wave contains millions of gallons of water above sea level at any given time. Imagine multiple Olympic size swimming pools dumping on your when you fall. That's Mavericks.

    • Thanks! Come to California and see it for yourself.

      The only caveat is you get a 24-hour notice, and that's not 100% accurate. Only 8 hours beforehand you really know for sure if Mavericks is going to be epic. I know surfers and photographers that have paid thousands of dollars for last-minute flights and arrived at an unsurfable wave.

      ---

      The beast's back πŸ‘‡

    • Wow, so this is every surfers’ dream then? So epic. Maybe I’ll get lucky and see one by chance when I’m next over 🀯🀞🏼

    • I've been lucky enough to have been out there once. The most prominent memory that I have is the fear that overcame me the first time a wall of water came rushing towards the boat. As the wave approached us, there was a moment when the water level was well above the boat. My immediate thought was that we'd be capsized and it was terrifying. Of course everything was fine, but then I realized what it must feel like to be in the water on a surfboard. 😱

      πŸ“·: One of the unedited photos I took.

    • Thanks Awais πŸ™

      And riding the waves is wayyy more difficult than photographing them. I have mad respect for every surfer that paddles out.

    • Whoa, having been out on boats at Mavericks and have my heart stop a few times as it seemed the boat went vertical to get over a surprise wave, that was crazy to watch. My worst nightmare, especially because my camera equipment would have gone to the bottom. Thanks for the link.

      And welcome to Cake, Professor! πŸŽ‰

    • When out on a jet ski, do you use some type of water protection for your camera equipment? If some type of protection is use, what is it? Thanks!

    • While visiting San Francisco, My wife and I drove down to Santa Cruz. We stopped at Half Moon Bay and walked out to the point. The surfers looked like little specs when you could see them. As we were walking back to the car, behind a surfer that had just paddled in, another surfer heading out asked him how it was and he said, "it's ok, about twenty feet" ! We stopped at Jeff's shop and met him before heading south. really nice guy. A few years later I rode my Bicycle from Danville through Crow Canyon to Oakland and the Bay, Then From The Marin Headlands, South to Santa Cruz. Again stopping at Half Moon Bay but it was a flat day. Beautiful area to ride a bicycle through.

    • I do wear a waterproof jacket over my wetsuit and tuck my camera under it when there's sea spray. I also carry my extra equipment in a dry bag that sits in the hull of the jet ski. I've never used any sort of housing for photographing from a jet ski or boat, but unfortunately, that resulted in the loss of 2 cameras on the same day right after photographing this shot. I was too slow to tuck the cameras under the jacket and IMHO we were dangerously close. I won't get that close again. I'm not comfortable with the idea of being held down for multiple minutes.