Mavericks at Half Moon Bay, California is famous for big wave surfing. Big wave surfers come from all over the world just to ride these unique waves. In the winter time, November through March, storms and wind create large swells that roll across the Pacific Ocean. When conditions are just right, these swells will grow as they travel towards Half Moon Bay. The swells break on a unique shaped rock ledge about a half-mile off shore and create the monster waves at Mavericks.
The waves at Mavericks are well known for being very dangerous due to the rough conditions that exist at Mavericks. Where the waves break is full of shallow reefs and rocks, which is extremely dangerous when a surfer falls and gets pounded to the bottom. The rocks and the currents have been known to hold a surfer under when they have wiped out. Combined with the choppy and rough faces of the waves that can be hard to ride, Mavericks is a dangerous place to surf for the expert and not a place recommended for the inexperienced.
Mavericks was discovered in the early 60s by a group of local surfers with a dog named Maverick. Among this group was Jeff Clark who would return many times and surf Mavericks alone. Only a small handful of people knew of Mavericks for years and almost no one except Jeff Clark surfed the unknown Mavericks for 15 years.
In 1990 a picture of a large wave at Mavericks made it into Surfers Magazine and now the word was out and surfers started to know that California had a big wave break.
In 1994, famous Hawaiian big wave surfer Mark Foo and a group of fellow surfers flew to California from Hawaii to sample Mavericks. Mark Foo wiped out on a wave and was pounded to the bottom and it was hours before his body finally resurfaced. Many people speculate that his surfboard became jammed in the rocks and his leash trapped him. After Mark Foo’s death, Mavericks had a reputation for being deadly.
In 2006, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary put a restriction banning personal watercraft from the bay. This caused some dilemma among the surfers because jet skis are a popular tool in big wave surfing. When waves get to a certain size, surfers need to be “towed in” to them with jet skis in order to achieve the speed necessary to prevent the wave from collapsing on them. Often times the surfers will have a rescue team on jet skis to pull them out of bad spots if they wipe out and are having difficulty getting to a safe place.
There are many surfers that don’t like the jet skis and like to have a natural surfing experience without the noise and pollution all around the waves. Environmentalists also don’t like to see dozens of jet skis racing around the bay, disturbing the wildlife and polluting the waters. It is a controversy that surrounds Mavericks and for the time being, jet skis will not be allowed.
These days, a Big Wave competition is held at Mavericks in the winter when conditions are just right. It is an invite only event for the top big wave surfers of the world. This has kept Mavericks in the surf magazines and keeps it popular for being one of the main big wave surfing places in the world.