big waves
April 22, 2004 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Heheheheheheee wipe oooout! The biggest moving mountain ever surfed.
posted by thedailygrowl (16 comments total)
Surfers refuse to measure waves in metric.

Hahaha that is great.
posted by techgnollogic at 5:34 PM on April 22, 2004

So how do they measure the waves with such accuracy and is catching a wave like that pure luck being in the right place right time? Or are they common and people just don't ride them normally.
posted by stbalbach at 5:48 PM on April 22, 2004

Quicktime video of the wave (I think... I don't have QT installed).
posted by eddydamascene at 6:31 PM on April 22, 2004

They are "common" but not near shore. There are several methods for measuring waves from different angles. There are a few areas that tend to have massive waves, and people get there by a combination of hanging out regularly and getting called when the conditions are right. The "Men Who Ride Mountains" contests are planned for a date range, and invited contestants are "on call" during that period. Big-wave surfing is done with big jetskis (the surfer is towed in), because the waves travel too fast to catch them paddling in. (The boats are a blast, actually; I'd be the perfect big-wave surf partner, because I'd always want to stay on the boat!) More pr0n (and some wave info) at MavSurfer.
posted by caitlinb at 6:34 PM on April 22, 2004

Very cool link and thanks for the supporting info caitlinb.
posted by vito90 at 7:13 PM on April 22, 2004

thanks for the link. BIG wave.
posted by tomplus2 at 8:48 PM on April 22, 2004

WOW. gracias.
posted by specialk420 at 8:51 PM on April 22, 2004

These guys are braver than me, that's for sure. Is there a point where the danger of riding a big wave plateaus, though? Is the potential damage after a wipeout any worse from a 20 metre wave than a 15 metre one?
Note the tell-tale use of proper measurements betraying my non-surfer status.
posted by dg at 9:14 PM on April 22, 2004

For regular surfing, people often remark on it when waves are "overhead" - taller than an average man. "Double-overhead" is considered challenging. Big waves are fast (10 or 20 times faster - or maybe much more; I suck at physics - than the small waves of late California summer), and if you get caught inside (in the whitewater) under those conditions, you can end up in a pretty big, pretty nasty washing machine, and your skier may not be able to get the boat in close enough, fast enough to make any difference. (The ski operators are supposed to have rescue training, too.) There has been at least one well-publicized death at Mavericks (Mark Foo - a god in the sport), so you might say that surfing, like anything else where natural conditions are a huge factor, is a sport in which you can do everything right and still die. The Foo story is especially sad since conditions were not considered extreme for Mavericks that day (18 to 20 feet) - sort of like Alex Lowe dying in an avalanche on ski down an "easy" mountain after a brilliant and very challenging mountaineering and ice-climbing career. Incidentally, I'm not 100% sure that "brave" is the word you're groping for.
posted by caitlinb at 10:09 PM on April 22, 2004

Wow, that was amazing.
posted by dejah420 at 10:12 PM on April 22, 2004

Surfers refuse to measure waves in metric.

Not true. In Australia we use both metres and feet to describe wave size. I don't know where they pulled that from.

There's a recent doco based on tow-in surfing called Billabong Odyssey, the Odyssey being a three-year project to find and ride the largest waves in the world. It's kind of based around this XXL competition, and features some of the runner ups for the year's largest wave surfed. But there's another, better doco on surfing called Step Into Liquid, which came out last year to a great critical reception and, I believe it was the highest grossing indie film in the States last summer as well. It was directed by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, who was the director of both The Endless Summer films. It offers a more general look at surfing across the world, from Vietnam to Wisconsin (on the lakes) to Ireland and elsewhere, but it also features some amazing tow-in surfing, including a spectacular session at Cortes Bank, an offshore seamount 100 miles off the Southern California coast!
posted by Onanist at 1:11 AM on April 23, 2004

WOW eddydamascene video is a must-see
posted by magullo at 3:52 AM on April 23, 2004

No slam on Dana Brown (here are links for his father's breakout movie, Endless Summer, and its hilarious sequel - in which Dana is credited as a cowriter), but Step Into Liquid is weak as a movie for surfers, and very uneven about women. Brown had really great access to some people, given who his dad is, and it's a beautiful movie, with some totally bizarre stories, but it's more of a billboard than an exploration. Mavericks is not the only big break, but the combination of the Bay Area and a big wave makes for some excellent documentation opportunities, and the definitive big-wave documentaries are by Eric Nelson, Curt Myers, and Frank Quirarte. Period. Year of the Drag-In, Whipped, 100-ft Wednesday, Return of the Drag-In. Is Metafilter a boyzone? It's a bridal shower next to this scene. Tow-in surfing is an incredible case study in gender across the board, even; the best-known rescue and safety figure in the niche, Shawn Alladio is practically the only woman on the tow-in scene. (Women surf these waves, but it doesn't seem to be a big attraction for the big names, such as they are.) MavSurfer sells the Drag-In movies, and of course they're going to sell more mainstream stuff right alongside, but a soft-focus recruiting poster for life at the beach like Step Into Liquid barely sends ripples over the surface. Cinematically, the tow-in surfing world has more in common with Warren Miller than Bruce Brown.
posted by caitlinb at 4:56 AM on April 23, 2004

I just loved the Cortes Bank section of Step Into Liquid, with that awe-inspiring first wave that practically breaks across the whole horizon, but I'm no big-wave surfing aficionado, give me regular-sized surfing any day. SiL felt too much like The Endless Summer "updated for the noughties" though.

Btw, Layne Beachley is a very well-known (6 world championships!) female surfer who tows-in.
posted by Onanist at 6:51 AM on April 23, 2004

Cortes Bank was once almost the site of a new micronation in 1969.
posted by gimonca at 7:59 AM on April 23, 2004

nice link -

thanks also for the Mark Foo reference - it led me to this Jon Krakauer article from 1995 - Mark Foo's Last Ride.
posted by dinsdale at 8:03 PM on April 23, 2004

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