The unfortunate announcement of the recovery mission came before dawn Thursday morning. Friends and family were waiting at Rodeo Beach all day, but there was no sign of him. Therefore the search and recovery mission has been called off.
VIDEO: Recovery effort underway for surfer at Rodeo Beach
Everyone should keep in mind these big waves are common along the California coast in the winter months, but more so because of El Nino.
"We did switch this morning from a search and rescue to recovery," Randy Lavasseur from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area said.
Defoe's wife and family were too distraught to talk.
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"There is a point when the amount of time that's lapsed, the conditions would cause you not to believe that you have a possibility of rescuing and you would be doing a recovery," Alexandra Picavet from the National Park Service said.
Wednesday at dusk, Defoe was surfing at Rodeo Beach was seen in the water face down. Two other surfers tried to help.
"He was face down and they had turned him over and tried to resuscitate him, but at that point a set had come in," friend Austin Simkins said.
Even Thursday morning the waves were relentless making it impossible for search crews to navigate the north end of the beach in search of Defoe.
High surf advisories are common during the winter months, but the National Park Service says these advisories are happening more often because of the El Nino weather pattern.
Earlier this week, three UC Santa Cruz students were swept away by a sneaker wave. Two of them are still missing.
READ MORE: Two Bay Area college students ID'd after being swept out to sea in Davenport
"One of the good things though that the El Nino weather patterns has given us is that people are talking about it. Whereas normally we have these really high surf warnings or we have rip current conditions and people aren't talking about it," Picavet said.
"I hope we find him and I hope we find him for closure," Simkins said.
PHOTOS: Rain, storms hit Bay Area during 2016 El Nino season
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