As the seasons start to turn and big looming storms start to swirl in the North Pacific, big wave surfers around the globe are starting to wax their sticks and prepare for the notorious big-wave spots that come to life every winter in the northern hemisphere.
While the average surfer will just hope to get some head high perfection this winter, a group of lunatic surfers from around the globe will be watching buoy readings and chart swells to plan their attack on the world’s most notorious big wave spots.
Some of the most prolific big waves in the world only come to life in winter and these are five epic waves that could produce mind-boggling waves this season.
If big, cold and sharky is your ideal, then Mavericks is your dream wave. The massive break sits in Half Moon Bay, California, situated just south of San Francisco and an hour drive north of Santa Cruz.
Mavericks was surfed alone by surfer Jeff Clark in 1975, and have since become a testing ground for today’s top big-wave surfers. Mavericks is as dangerous as it is mystical, as it has taken the lives of some of surfing’s best big-wave surfers. Waves can reach 60 feet and are so powerful that they register on the Richter scale.
2. Nelscott Reef
While Oregon’s Nelscott Reef is Mavericks’ less-famous little brother, it is still ferocious and really comes to life with large North Pacific winter swells that produce waves in the 40 foot plus range.
Cold and sharky, Nelscott has made its way onto the Big Wave World Tour and big-wave specialist like Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala have dropped into bombs on the frigid reef.
3. Waimea Bay
In the 1950’s a group of big-wave hellmen pioneered this Hawaiian gem. Located on Oahu’s North Shore, Waimea Bay is considered the crown jewel of big-wave spots, as much for its lore as for its size.
Every winter season the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau enters a waiting period, needing waves to consistently to be in the 20 foot plus range to run. While it has only run nine times since its inception, it did run in February 2016 and was won by the North Shore’s golden boy John John Florence.
4. Cortes Bank
The Bank is a freak of nature sitting in deep North Pacific waters West of San Diego County, California.
While The Cortes Bank is fickle and needs a special combination of psychotic storm factors to work, it’s absolutely insane when firing on all cylinders.
When big wave legends like Mark Healy seem shaken by a spot, you know it has to be insane. With waves in the 60-foot plus range and actually pitching, Cortes is considered one of the most dangerous and difficult waves in the world.
On the North Shore of Maui sits one of the most powerful waves on the planet. Pe’ahi (also known as Jaws) attracts the best big-wave surfers on the planet every winter.
Originally thought of as a tow only spot, surfers like Danilo Couto, Shane Dorian, Mark Healy and many others have made paddling a reality in the 60 foot plus waves that frequently make Jaws a winter standout.
One of the most spectacular aspects of Jaws is that it actually pitches offering legitimate barrels for those willing to pull up and into the cavernous tubes.
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