Friday, January 07, 2005


Riding Giants

If you have not heard of this documentary, I implore you to check it out. But only do so if some part of you loves the ocean and/or surfing because otherwise you probably wouldn't care alot.

It is the history of surfing and big wave surfing. Big wave surfing is different from surfing because it seeks out the largest wave rideable. No contest, no prize money, just you and a board. Strapped to your feet and getting towed into it by a friend on a jet ski because the waves are so big and fast that you can't paddle fast enough to catch it.

The history of it was really enlightening. I didn't know that surfing really has come into its own in the past 40-50 years. Before that it was just a few Hawaiians doing it. And before the 60's, it was just a few other people who did it. They said that before the Gidget movies came out around '63 or so, there were about 5,000 surfers. After the movies popularized it, that number exploded to 2-3 million. And big wave surfing was only in Hawaii, at the North Shore, then Waimea, then Mavericks were discovered in Cali at Half Moon Bay below San Francisco, then the jet ski was used and "tow-in surfing" was started and Peahi was surfed, and then Teahupoo (or Chopu) in Tahiti. And I'm sure there are still others out there waiting to be found.

But what amazed me was that Jeff Clark was surfing Mavericks by himself for 15 years until he could convince someone else to go with him in 1990. That is mind boggling to have one of the hugest, nastiest breaks in the world to yourself.

I'm gonna look for pictures in a second to show you the size and mass of water involved in these waves.

I'll admit that I really do strive to find the spiritual side of things, as corny as that may sound. Surfing, rock climbing, and motorcycling are all activities that are peaceful to me. It's just you, the wave/rock/bike and road and that's it. That's all there is. Okay, let me stop right now and tell you that I have never surfed. Ever. I tried a few Christmases ago in the Dominican Republic, but I was too out of shape for it and couldn't even paddle out. But ever since I have been around the ocean, I have really been drawn to it. It's always there, washing in and out, no matter what I do. It's nice to know it's there, just like the mountains. They'll always be there and always have been, but I get to enjoy them and experience them during my short time here. And that's why I like hiking and camping and going to the beach. I haven't really experienced big waves. I think the biggest I've ever seen and been in was around 10-15 feet, which are big waves, and that's also why I like the mountains and the ocean; if you don't respect them, they will fucking break you in half and not even think about it. But as long as you respect it, they'll respect you.

Ok, picture time. (That last sentence sounds really familiar, I think I'm gonna have to go archiving and see if I've talked about that before.)
Wow, this is just what I was talking about.

Those two are of Peahi in HI, aka Jaws.
This one is Mavericks near San Francisco, CA.

This shot is why Mavericks is so nuts, those rocks are in front of where some of the larger waves break.

This is Teahupoo in Tahiti.

Enjoy and don't think about how cold it is outside. If it is.


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