1990: The Word Gets Out: Maverick's

Oct 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Flea Virostko takes on a 50-footer at Maverick's, November 21, 2001.

Maverick's, the monster wave 22 miles south of San Francisco, gained notoriety in the early nineties after a contingent of surfing's top guns took on its 35- to 50-foot faces, culminating in the 1994 drowning death of big-wave legend Mark Foo. But before 1990, Maverick's had been the private playground of local surfer Jeff Clark. On January 22 of that year, Clark convinced Santa Cruz surfers Tom Powers and DAVE SCHMIDT to join him as a powerful Aleutian swell rolled in to the Northern California coast. Schmidt, now 44, spread the word, and the world was in on a dangerous secret. "Tom and I were standing at Ocean Beach watching these 15- to 20-foot storm sets rolling in. I was thinking: I'm not going out. Then Jeff pops up and says, 'Hey, I've got a place with a perfect left and right break, right through a channel.' So we go down there, and I look south to the break and see this big A-frame peak 20 feet tall. I was in shock. I went out, got up, and the wave was like an elevator—it just jacked me up and up and up before finally releasing me. After six rides, I got in, kissed the beach, and said, 'What is this place?' Even now, when I talk about it, my hands start sweating. You're pretty much cheating death at Maverick's. It's the only wave I know that registers on the Richter scale."

Interview by Daniel Duane

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