The Titans of Mavericks big wave contest, which took place Friday off the coast of Half Moon Bay in Northern California, is one of the most important, gnarliest surf events in the United States. Twenty-four of the world’s best surfers gather one day each winter to ride waves that sometimes reach 60 feet.
To find out what gear they use to navigate these enormous waves, we sent Bay Area photographer Stephen Lam to take portraits of the surfers and their boards early Friday morning before the riders headed out to the lineup.
Photo: Nathan Fletcher of San Clemente, California holding a 10’2” and a 10’10” by Stretch Boards. “Stretch has been making my boards for about 12 years and I usually ride a four-fin. The reason I ride a 10’2” is for the paddling. [It does well] in the waves and conditions we’re going to face today. The 10’10” is made a little thinner so I can get away with it in smaller surf but it’s technically made for bigger Mavericks.”Chris Bertish of Cape Town, South Africa, with a 9’6” Jeff Clark. “This is actually a new one. I tried it yesterday for the first time. Jeff Clark, the pioneer at Mavericks, shapes all my boards and he has for the past 10 years. If you have the right shaper and you know the boards and the equipment, you can stay safe out here.”Alex Martins of Recife, Brazil, who rides a 9’6” Jeff Clark and 9’10” Jeff Clark.Ben Wilkinson of Narabeen, New South Wales, Australia, with his backup 9'6” surfboard by FCD.Shane Desmond of Santa Cruz, California with a 9’8” (pictured) and 9’10” by Screwball industries. “It’s shaped by a friend whom I pretty much grew up with, and I’ve been riding his boards for about 15 years.”Kohl Christensen of Haleiwa, Hawaii, with his 10’3” FCD.Nic Vaughan (alternate #4), of Los Angeles, California with a 9’6” Rusty shaped by Rusty Preisendorfer. “This is kind of my go-to Mavericks board. I love this board. A lot of different things have to be changed for the type of wave in Mavericks. It’s a very steep and hollow wave so you’ll need more rocker in the board.”Zack Wormhoudt of Santa Cruz, California, with a 10’0” Pearson Arrow.Rusty Long of San Clemente, California, who rides 9’2”, 9’4”, and 9’6” boards by Chris Christensen depending on the waves. “I’ve been getting boards from Chris for a long time and he has more experience than just about any big-wave shaper these days.”