Cortes Bank
March 3, 2001 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Cortes Bank is a 17-mile underwater mountain range that comes to a head 3 feet below the surface at a spot called Bishop Rock, about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego. When open ocean waves encounter this seafloor anomaly, they break with stunning speed and size. This is the story of a "tow-in" surfing expedition to Cortes Bank, with jaw-dropping Quicktime movies of surfers riding 30-40 foot waves in the middle of the ocean...
posted by cfj (5 comments total)
The best part about this is that because these waves are travelling so fast, they need a jet ski to tow the surfers to a high enough speed in order to catch them. I used to surf quite a bit back in high school, and most of it was in San Diego, and I certainly never saw anything quite like these. In fact, I bet that if I had and tried to catch one, I probably wouldn't be alive to be typing this right now.
posted by crawl at 4:25 PM on March 3, 2001

i grew up surfing in Hawaii myself, and the only time i saw anything like these waves was one winter, when Kaena Point on the north shore was breaking at 50+ feet. even so, those giant waves were traveling nowhere near the speed of these Cortes Bank monsters. in one of the videos you can actually see one of the surfers' boards go into a sort of oscillation because of the high speed. very intense. their hearts must have been in their throats. and remember that the peak of the underwater mountain is only 3 feet underwater! yep. you could die out there.
posted by cfj at 4:54 PM on March 3, 2001

I think Evan Slater and one other guy tried to paddle into some of the waves. They failed. The lack of line up points probably multiplied the spookiness factor. Beautiful waves though.
posted by rdr at 6:51 PM on March 3, 2001

Map of Cortez Bank in relation to SoCal & islands.
posted by dhartung at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2001

Thery do this all the time off the coast of Maui, at a spot called "Jaws". Due to wave refraction in this case, rather than undersea mounts.
posted by Hackworth at 11:19 PM on March 4, 2001

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