Friday, January 24, 2014

What I've Learned From Watching The 2014 Mavericks Invitational

While still in progress, today's Mavericks Invitational so far has been epic. Conditions have varied but the waves have been monstrous. The quality of the waves and the skill level of the surfers riding them have done wonders for surfing. Here's what I've taken away from this event so far:

1. It's cliche but these surfers are truly men who ride mountains. Unassuming on land, total gladiators in the some of the scariest waves in the world.

No justification. Just shameful.
2. With the ASP's Dream Tour and the Big Wave World Tour (of which the Mavericks Invitational is a part), competitive surfing is at a pinnacle. Good riddance to the days of contests held in 2-3' slop. Who remembers the 1985 pro contest held in a wave pool in Allentown, PA?!

3. I don't know what's more impressive: these surfer's physical conditioning or their mental conditioning. I'm assuming that hucking yourself over a 40' ledge takes plenty of both. And I'd imagine surviving the beatings these guys have taken in waves this size takes even more of both. PWCs and CO2 cartridges are nice but getting rag dolled under a giant wave is a lonely place to be.

4. The circus of boats, PWCs, helicopters, groupies, cameras and prize money don't detract from the fact that, at its core, this is about some really brave men surfing some really big waves. I get a feeling that all that bullshit gets stripped away when the competitors are sitting alone / together in the peak, waiting for that next giant set to loom down on them from the horizon.

5. Surfing giant waves isn't about big balls, it's about commitment. These guys have accepted the fact that they will be absentee fathers, husbands and friends; they will hover just above or below the poverty line; they will make decisions and live their lives that virtually no one else will understand. Dropping everything to fly half way around the world at a moments notice but needing to drag boards through airports and customs, deal with connecting flights, layovers, time changes, rental cars and finding a place to stay, all in hopes that the forecast materializes. It's not a glorious lifestyle.

The finals have begun and I don't imagine the final result will change my perspective. These competitors and this wave have my utmost respect and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to watch them do something truly incredible.

Zach Wormhoudt, Mavericks 2011

Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.