Big Wave Surfing – Mavericks/JAWS

One thing I envy about those who grew up along the coasts near beaches is their ability to shred some swells, or the gnar or the actual terminology of waves that I pretend to know from watching too much Johnny Tsunami and YouTube videos. As a kid, I watched the TV show Rocket Power and lived vicariously through their surfing adventures.

Which brings me to why I needed to cover Mavericks/Big Wave Surfing and the type of person that is drawn to surfing these savage waves.

Some poop-in-your-pants-badass facts about Mavericks/Big Wave Surfers

  • Mavericks is a surfing location in Northern California
  • The first surfing competition was called The Titans of Mavericks in 1990
  • The Competition season runs from November 30-March 31
  • 24-30 Big Wave surfers are selected each year to compete
  • Mavericks’ waves average heights on 60 feet tall, some big waves are 100+ feet tall
  • The waves are so powerful they can be recorded on the Richter scale
  • The force of a single wave can destroy solid rock
  • Very few surfers become Big Wave surfers aka you have to be Badass and a tad bit crazy
  • Many surfers have lost their lives trying to ride them
  • Elite Big Wave Surfers (Laird Hamilton in particular) train for 5 hours a day or somewhere close to that ballpark in preparation for the wave
  • Surfers train to hold their breath for over 3 minutes in case they fall – because the waves are so violent, breath holds will increase likelihood of survival
  • Every surfer, Man or Woman, has the biggest and toughest brain on the planet 🌎 – Mental Toughness x 1,000
  • Some years the Mavericks competition is cancelled due to weather, poor conditions, or lack of waves – this proves the hype is real
  • The orgin of the name


Before paddling out into the ocean, Alex Matienzo attached the leash of his white-haired German Shephed Maverick to his truck, to protect him from following them into the dangers ahead. After witnessing the ferocious power of these big waves, Maverick became an icon for Big Wave Surfing forever.

Other Big Wave/JAWS Facts

  • Many well-known surfers created the Tow-In technique where jet skis tow-in the surfer into big waves that break the 30 foot barrier. Laird Hamilton is one of the pioneers of the technique and is one of the greatest surfers to ever live.
  • The Tow-In technique is one of the biggest breakthroughs in surfing history
  • In the 2000’s helicopters were implemented as a Tow-In option that allowed many advantageous aspects over the Jet-Ski, though they are much more expensive
  • One of the oldest and most legendary big wave surfing contests is in Oahu, Hawaii, called Eddie, named after a local legend Eddie Aikau
  • Jaws Peahi, Maui, Hawaii, is one of the most popular big wave surfing locations- i.e. Name the location something so intimidating that if you don’t smile while hearing about it, turn away immediately
  • Red Bull hosts Jaws and invites 21 of the best big wave surfers from around the world
  • “Rumor has it, Jaws’ ghost (from the 1975 cult-classic) shows up and watches from the distance to see a bunch of crazy seals riding Tsunamis only using small pieces of debris. Even the biggest badass in the ocean is in awe, but he won’t admit that to your face” – Me.

A Special Type of Person

The type of person that is drawn to Big Wave surfing loves a challenge. They are passionate about their craft, craves the intense focus to perform a life or death task, and is a flat out badass.

Initially this type of person is drawn to the coolness of it all. At first it’s cool, it’s fun, it’s thrilling and a little bit unnerving. Then it fuels into a passion and a challenge. Here are some other jobs this personality is drawn to:

  • Gang Unit Cops
  • Army Rangers (any SOF unit)
  • Skydivers
  • Big Wave Surfers
  • Astronauts
  • Blogger – *gets roundhouse kicked to the chest for being included among these stallions*

These people are all credited and proven to be badass in their own ways. But some of these people crave a little bit more danger, fear of uncertainty, and challenge to do the impossible. I like to say that these people have an extreme personality. All-In, all the time:

  • Undercover Cops – Watch Gangland Undercover on the History channel. It follows a loose depiction of the badass George Rowe.
  • Special Missions Units in the military, working covertly with little to no backup – Read the book “Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command” by Sean Naylor. There is stuff in there, that if there was a movie made about some of it, you’d mutter to yourself, “Bullshit”. 
  • BASE Jumpers – these crazy bastards
  • Big Wave Surfers – The waves keep getting bigger. “I believe people take on the forces of nature because that’s when they feel the most alive” – Laird Hamilton. “The rare part of the challenge is taming the beast. Coming back and saying, God I just nailed it” – Brett Lickle, Jet Ski Driver
  • Astronauts – THEY GO TO OUTER SPACE – THEY WALK ON THE MOON – THE PUNCH ALIENS IN THEIR UGLY ALIEN FACES! There is no progression, once a spaceman always a spaceman (spaceperson?) I listened to an interview with an astronaut on The Chive’s podcast and he said that he told a group of woman at a bar that he was a sex toy salesman. When his friends finally caved and told them that he was actually an astronaut, they laughed and believed he was really a sex toy guy because that was more believable. LEGEND!

All badass. All a little stubborn with a sprinkle of crazy.

Now here are some videos of some badasses surfing these MONSTER waves.

How many “Oh Shit” moments are captured in one day?

(YouTuber: Utoo B Heavenbound)

Sources not Linked in post: Peahi, HawaiiLaird HamiltonTitans of MavericksChasing Mavericks (2012)

Featured Image:

If you’re a surfer, what did you think of the film Chasing Mavericks (2012)? Personally I loved it, but this is from an outsiders perspective who’s never surfed before. Interested to hear your thoughts.

Recommend me some of your favorite surfing documentaries and films!

Twitter and Instagram – @TheAlbumWeb


7 thoughts on “Big Wave Surfing – Mavericks/JAWS

  1. This post was cool! I only disagree about base jumpers. They’re not badass they’re just either suicidal or dumb as a box of rocks. There’s no other reason to do something with such a high mortality rate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I can definitely agree with your point, I think they still deserve the title as badass, even if they will die one day doing it. I would never do it, but I want to skydive a lot in the future. You could say the same thing about Big Wave surfers because of how dangerous it is. Hopefully one day someone will invent jetpacks so we as humans don’t have to worry about these problems. Then again, it would probably be something much more death defying, because essentially, we are dumbasses haha!

      Liked by 1 person

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