Big Wave Sessions
Jeff Clark recounts what it was like to conquer world famous break
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 21 November, 2015 - Jeff Clark pioneered the break at Mavericks, first surfing it in 1975. Clark proceeded to surf it alone for 15 years until he introduced the break to surfers from Santa Cruz and San Francisco. After that, a Surfer Magazine article, several full-length videos, word of mouth and the untimely death of Mark Foo all worked together to put Mavericks on the international surfing map.
Jeff Clark recently talked to the BBC to retell his tale of his first session at Mavericks..
I started my paddle out, and I remember the current being very strong because the tide was full. And I had to paddle across this reef, and I just remember battling, battling through these waves. And finally I made it out to the line-up.
There are rocks, about 500 yards (475m) off the beach, that protrude up out of the water. Out past those rocks, there are underwater shelves, that are in the shape of your hand - they look like an alligator back on the ocean floor. And the tail curves up to the north-west.
As a wave starts to feel that alligator tail it slows down a little bit, and as it gets toward the reef at Mavericks, it gets shallower and the middle part becomes wedge-shaped. That wedge all of a sudden hits a shelf that is only 15ft (4.5m) deep and it's like somebody tripping.
When the wave came, I turned and was totally committed - head down, pulling water as hard as I could, paddling that board as fast as it could be paddled.
I start to feel that acceleration down the face of the wave. I hit my feet, and as I start to drop, there is the shadow of that wave standing up behind me. And I'm just going down the face of that wave and cringing, trying to maintain speed to outrun this thing.
And I made it. I got away. And there was nothing more satisfying than to see something for so many years, watch it, study it and then to actually go out and accomplish what you thought you could do.
But nobody else was up for surfing it. I drove around for years trying to bend people's ears - just short of dragging them out there. And they wanted no part of it.