Words by George Bryan
Photos by JJ Morris and George Bryan
I was pretty sure our next adventure on the Big Wave World Tour of surfing was scheduled for a trip up north, but I had been anticipating a trip to Lincoln city, Oregon. So when the call was made to head to Half Moon Bay, I figured the swell had increased and it was just too good to not hold the contest at the most prime location on the Big Wave tour. Mavericks. I grabbed a plane ticket for that evening out of Long Beach and made a call to some friends in San Francisco, hoping to catch some waves on my time off.
The contest holding period went yellow light days before the event, but the decision to flip the switch for a green light was long and excruciating. A possible lack of size, an unfavorable south wind, and pessimision were all holding the event back from being a go even 72 hours before the event. I was setting up equipment on the top of Pillar Point above Mavericks facing the possibility of having to take everything down, head immediately to Todos Santos Island to catch the swell, and running the BWWT event there in 4 days. Eventually the event was called on and we were off and running with two set up days and a huge live event scheduled for the third.
I was stoked to be up in Northern California again. The scenery, crisp air, close friends, and cracking surf always make for a good trip. For this event, our crew was hooked up with our own house with a hot tub, theater, and stocked fridge above Mavericks. It was definitely a cool change from the bunk beds and dorm food we cruised with during the last event.
The Mavericks Invitation event was a huge success. We had a live helicopter camera feed, Larry Haynes on a PWC, and GoPro footage from the surfer’s boards being brought in after every heat. The event went live across the internet, on a live NBC affiliate channel, and is picked up for the Red Bull signature series. This was the biggest and best production that I have directed by far.
I scheduled a late flight for the day after the event to make time to find some old friends and some skim. That morning I was up early checking Half Moon Bay State Beach waiting for a call from Craig Potter, but when he did call, he was out for the day with the stomach flu. When I finally got ahold of Blair Conklin in Berkley, he was headed up north that afternoon, but meeting up with him before the tide was high again wasn’t going to work with my flight. It was a no brainer to head to Santa Cruz and catch the swell as it wrapped around the points on the east side. I hit up the usual OG’s and got a return call from my good friend, JJ Morris, right as I entered town. I picked him up at Walgreens in my compact rental car, a Chevy Spark, that the lady referred to as cute as she handed me the keys, and we cruised along the coast checking spots. It was one of those glassy all day days that some refer to as a glory day. It wasn’t long before we found what we were looking for: a fun section all to ourselves that wrapped down one of the beaches. The water was super clear, and we had a blast slashing some waves around the rock, Clark Little’ing and sharing some good laughs between sets. We were joined at one point by a guy named only, Sean, who ended up getting a nice channel in his board by one of the rocks. Between sessions we made a run to Tacos Morenos after JJ vetoed my call for Taqueria Vallarta. During our second session, the the tide came up and I got to buzz the rocks on a backside line with my face right up againt the rocks. A feeling that I have enjoyed in Santa Cruz for over 20 years.
The five day adventure was another successful one for sure. My expectations were far surpased and it felt like everything just lined up perfectly. Two things that make an amazing trip no matter where you go. When I looked back at the trip after getting home, the first thought that popped into my mind was a cool moment with Nathan Fletcher. After the contest, he was super humble as always, and said something about how he had a moment on the boat when he realized just how gnarly his friends are. Everyday he surfs with his friends, but that day he realized that his friends were the heaviest surfers in the world. It got me thinking about how lucky I am to have grown up skimming with my brother and many other of the world’s best skimboarders on a daily basis. Something I often overlook, but appreciate that many people, like myself, have the opportunity to do.