Daring surfers head to Bay Area's legendary Mavericks as powerful waves expected

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, December 28, 2023
Dangerous waves bring daring surfers to Mavericks
Powerful waves are expected to hit the California coastline Thursday and pro surfers from all over the world are getting ready to ride at Mavericks.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Massive and powerful waves are expected to hit the Bay Area coastline Thursday morning and pro surfers from all over the world are getting ready to ride them.

The National Weather Services issued a High Surf Warning and is forecasting waves could reach up to 30 feet.

Pro surfers from around the world traveled to chase these storms and Northern California's legendary Mavericks.

Tanner Waite and a group of surfers traveled from Portugal to Half Moon May for the big wave surfing competition well underway.

"If the buoy ratings are true and it's not affected by the local wind swell, then it will be the biggest waves I've been out in by far," Waite said.

The surfing on Christmas Day and the day after were already impressive to Waite who estimated the swells at 11 to 12 feet.

"Personally, I think for me it was the best day I ever been out at Mavericks, it was clean and glassy," Waite said.

Keeping these surfers safe is Drake Stanley, a member of the Mavericks Rescue Team.

MORE: 1st round of storms sweep across Bay Area with more rain on the way

"I mean they're deadly waves - a few people have passed away here at Mavericks," Stanley said.

Stanley will be standing by on a jet ski ready to pull anyone to safety. The former pro surfer himself loves the adrenaline and found a way to gear that towards helping people.

"It's the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed my whole life just being out there seeing those giant waves. It's like watching avalanches and you've got people surfing each one of those, putting their life on the line," Stanley said.

His advice for surfers is wearing proper safety gear.

"We have this inflatable vest, and this was actually invented by a pro surfer named Shane Dorian after he almost drowned here at Mavericks. And he was flying back to Hawaii and as the stewardess was giving the rundown of how to inflate the life jackets he had the idea of - why not have that in your wetsuits," Stanley said.

Stanley said Thursday is expected to be the biggest day for Mavericks since 2018. The only questionable part is the wind.

"Everybody is going to go out tomorrow - it's just a question of how windy it's going to be. And again we hope that the wind is going to stop and it's going to be manageable," Stanley said.

People are advised to view the ocean from a safe distance.

Just last month, a 5-year-old girl died after being swept into the water at Martin's Beach.

For Mavericks, the wave height is forecasted to peak from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stanley said for the rescue team, their goal is to have everybody get home safely.

"We spend our lives to be here for these moments and all the training and the work and the practice and the backup safety networks that we create are all for these moments - and it's amazing when we get to experience that," Stanley said.

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