Cake
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    • The swell height was 12ft, which produced enough force to generate 25ft waves. It wasn't the 60ft wave we were hoping for. Still, 25ft will literally kill a novice surfer. It's a HUGE wave.

    • Sometimes Jeff would hand off the boat to someone else so he could surf the wave. He uses a standup paddle board he made custom for big Mavericks waves. His replaced hip causes him problems when standing up, so he paddles into the waves already standing up. The art of SUPing a 25ft wave is much harder than surfing it with a traditional board.

    • We waited a year for better waves. Christmas came yearly on December 20th, 2014. This time, more than just our original team of photographers wanted to join, John's boat was in the shop, and it was a stormy day. Somehow we were able to convince a commercial fisherman to take us out, free of charge. His ship was bad ass.

    • I got a reputation for getting people front row access at Mavericks. Famous photographer Renae Robyn and accomplished filmmaker, Anton Lorimer, joined our crew.

    • 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.