Christy Davis Mavericks Page


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Christy Davis Exiting the Tube at Mavericks
Photo by James Coughlin (Photo Credits)

Table Of Contents

Christy's Mavericks Page: Other Pages on my Site:
Page 1:
Mavericks: The Experience
The Ride
The Lineup

Page 2:
The Wipeout
The Crowd
A Word to the Wise

Christy's Surfing Pages Central Directory
Christy Davis' Surfing Home Page
Christy Davis' Ocean Beach (SF) Page
Mavericks Stories
Surf Links
Photography Credits
Fiona's Equestrian Page
Charlotte the Jack Russell Terrier


Mavericks: The Experience

Situated a half mile out to sea from Pillar Point, which itself sticks a half mile or more into the cold grey-green Pacific from the mountainous coast, the lineup at Mavericks has to be one of the most spectacular there is in terms of beauty and intensity of experience, even before factoring in the wave itself. With a major undersea canyon focusing north through west swells out of deep water directly onto a series of underwater ridges and valleys set across their path, the reef at Mavericks is one of the most dramatic lineups underwater as well.

[Photo Insert: Coming Soon, Still Under Construction]

Early Morning, January 22, 1992: View From The North As
A Giant Set Breaks A Whole Reef Out From The Normal Lineup.
Note That the Bouy in the Background is More Than 20 Feet Tall.
Photo by Christy Davis (Photo Credits)

This is one of the great solid/liquid/gas interfaces on the planet. I recall sitting in the channel alone after catching the largest wave of my life on the first day of April, 1994, transfixed by the energy of a mammoth set rolling by. Doc Renneker was the only one left outside at this point, and I watched him try to get into one the waves of this set, completely insignificant and without any hope of actually pushing down the face before it completely jacked and pitched out, easily standing 50" trough to crest, wild, lumpy, and obviously unrideable. The next few waves were even bigger. Just sitting in the channel as the energy of the set rolled thunderously by was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I thought about paddling back out, but was already exhausted, and the waves were pretty out of control, and building.

In reality, every paddle out at Mavericks is an experience to savor, whether I catch 15 waves or one. Usually, the most amazing experiences of all are those close encounters with truly monstrous waves, either paddling over them or bailing, trying to shove my board over the top and diving through, or even just sitting on the shoulder watching the wave jack and pitch into a tube you could fit Pigeon Point Lighthouse in, and seeing all of the cliffs of my home town of Moss Beach through the tube. These are waves I don't think any human being can take off on without a jetski, so just being near enough to experience them is an incredible facet of the Mavericks experience.

The Ride

Of course, riding the waves is what its all about. The takeoff at Mavericks is unlike anything you've ever experienced. The wave isn't just big, it STOPS and pitches out like the heaviest pitching surfing waves in the world. In addition, the peak not only jacks, but the trough drops about 10-15 feet, which is why the channel shots always look much smaller than the size people talk about. The trough just doesn't show in these channel photos because it is behind and below the trough beneath the shoulder, so the channel perspective only shows the face from the crest to the trough out on the shoulder, losing the additional face size from the bottom dropping out.

Christy Davis at Mavericks, December 21, 1994

Photo by Martha Jenkins © (Photo Credits)

In some ways riding Mavericks seems more like skiing than surfing, like jumping into a steep chute or leaping off a cornice. The take off is like dropping off a 30 foot ledge, going weightless, barely holding contact with the face of the wave, negotiating terrain changes while traversing acres of water going faster than you ever thought possible on a surfboard. I've ploughed through chops on the face bigger than waves many people ride in a lifetime. You drop in for a hundred or more yards before pulling your bottom turn. And just when you've made it through the first drop in and section, the wave hits a hole, backs off, then pitches again from the middle of the face, often bigger than the original drop. The first section explodes behind you just as you hit the flat spot, snapping at your heels or even completely engulfing you. You have to coast, tilt forward, and drop in late again. I've had the best elevator shaft drop-ins of my life on this section. And the sequence repeats itself again and again as the wave hits progressively shallower peaks and holes all the way past Mushroom Rock. If you're expecting a long beautiful wall, forget it. Mavericks is a series of steep drops punctuated by flat spots that tend to put you at risk for the next section.

The Lineup

If you take off back in the main peak past the "Corner" and into the "Pit" or "Main Arena," the wave jacks so hard that it really is hard for anyone but a Jeff Clark, Peter Mel or Don Curry to make it down the face on a really big one. Losing it here puts you into the "Cauldron," that boiling, seething mess that just won't let you back up even on "smaller" waves because the water seems to be driving down into a hole (some say an underwater blowhole) without coming back up. This is the area where all of the best guys out there have had really scary experiences, including two wave holdowns. And this is the area where Mark Foo lost his life on a small to medium sized Mavericks wave.

One in the Pit, one on the Corner, both driving down at an angle

Photo by Martha Jenkins © (Photo Credits)
Just ten or twenty feet further to the south makes a huge difference in rideability. The wave stands vertical for an extra instant here allowing mere mortals to get into the wave before the face goes past vertical. Most of the guys that successfully ride further back drive down at an angle to get to this area because if they drive straight down they will still take air as the face back in the pit goes past vertical quite low on the wave.

If you lose it or get caught inside, every inch of southing you can get will ease the wipeout and help your chances in dealing with the next waves. I have caught waves in the pit that went past vertical, but I turned at the top and traversed south across the lip which was literally a patch of water hanging in space, and made it to the corner where it was merely vertical, making the elevator drop with an inch or two of rail hanging in, my face inches from the face of the wave. If I'd tried to take it straight or even at a dropping angle, I would have been completely freefalling for 15 or more feet. Those have been among the heaviest waves of my life. And I've also lost it but bailed out tracking and diving as far to the south as possible, making the wipeout much less punishing, or even getting blown through the back.

The Wipeout

Wiping out at Mavericks is one of the more amazing experiences in surfing...

Continued on Next Page

Christy Davis Falling Off the Edge at Mavericks
Photos by Martha Jenkins © (Photo Credits)


Don't Stop Here. Christy's Mavericks Page 2 contains more quality photos and the lowdown on the wipeout, the crowds, and other pearls of wisdom.

Also be sure to visit Mavericks Stories (NEW 1/11/97), including:


My Home Page contains more on Mavericks, Ocean Beach (S.F), and other Surfing Subjects

Christy's Ocean Beach Page contains more big wave photos.


I have selected a few prime links for you to check out. Some are my favorites, a few are not the usual surf links, and between the rest of them, you can find virtually any surf related site around.


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