Surfers brave monster Mavericks waves, despite no competition

Dan Noyes Image
ByDan Noyes via KGO logo
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

A monster swell brought 30-50 foot waves and dozens of surfers to Mavericks on December 17, 2018 even though the World Surf League said it was TOO big for the surf competition.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Monday at Mavericks was projected to be one of the biggest and most epic surfing days of the decade at the famous Half Moon Bay surf spot and it lived up to that billing.

Dozens of surfers braved 30 to 50 foot waves even after the World Surf League said the conditions were too big and too volatile to hold the Mavericks Challenge big wave surf competition.

VIDEO: Surfers catch big waves at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay

"Mavericks is like your worst nightmare and a dream come true all-in-one," said Luca Padua, who celebrated his 17th birthday by paddling out into the monster waves.

"Once you're committed there's no turning back and you're 100-percent going for it."

According to the National Weather Service, the swell that pummeled the Northern California Coast was the 7th highest since 1987.

Some of the waves were so big, they were not rideable.

Surfers told ABC7 News that the biggest waves of the day cracked 60 feet tall.

RELATED: Mavericks surf contest postponed until further notice

"There's some carnage going on and you know everyone's still in one piece," said Mason Barnes who came up from Southern California just for this.

Barnes said he caught three good waves using a jet ski to tow-in.

"I got really lucky but there's a couple guys that got pushed to the rocks which is you know worst-case scenario."

RELATED: Waves that rumble like a truck: Mavericks has been challenging top surfers for 20 years

ABC7 News witnessed one wipeout where a surfer got held down by three massive waves and came so close to the rocks that safety crews had a hard time finding him.

He was finally rescued after a harrowing 90-second scramble.

The usual flotilla of boats was not allowed out, including one ABC7 News investigative reporter Dan Noyes had planned to take.

The gigantic waves spilled over and into the normally calm Pillar Point Harbor channel

RELATED: A 1st at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay: Women will compete in legendary surf contest

But with hundreds of spectators on the shore, perched on bluffs with cameras, and on the water, it felt just as big as surf competitions of the past.

The World Surf League said the contest will not be held in 2018, but they are very hopeful that it will be held in the coming months.

The competition window closes March 31, 2019.

Find more stories and videos on Mavericks.