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The Inertia

Peter Davi
Date: December 4, 2007
Place: Ghost Trees, Pebble Beach, California
The Moment: Davi is thrown off his board and dies attempting to swim in from the break.

A third generation commercial fisherman from Monterey, Peter Davi knew the coastline like the back of his hand. More than anyone, he was Pebble Beach surf.

On December 4, 2007,  Peter Davi and Anthony Tashnick took their ten-foot guns out from Stillwater Cove. The lineup was packed with tow teams and photographers there to catch a swell that was ranging from 30 to 50 feet. Hoping to avoid the crowd, the two of them first sat on the shoulder, but while Tashnick snagged a couple, Davi wasn’t able to grab any and soon paddled into the thick of the lineup where he was hell-bent on getting a wave.

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Randy Reyes and Anthony Ruffo offered to tow Davi into a couple, and after catching one, Davi decided it was time to paddle in as a helicopter arrived and he really wasn’t one for the media circus. Paddling in towards the inside, it is unclear what exactly happened, but he was either caught on the inside or wiped out riding one last wave when his leash snapped and he ended up swimming without a board. According to onlookers, he made it a couple hundred feet, but was soon lost amid the whitewash and rocks. They later found him lying down in a patch of kelp, apparently there for awhile.

An autopsy would later reveal troubling insights into the death. As reported by the Monterey Herald, “Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Richards said toxicology results show that Davi had a methamphetamine level of 0.75 milligrams per liter in his system at the time of his death. The level for potential toxicity is between 0.2 to 0.5 milligrams per liter.”

Davi was a local’s local. According to the New York Times:

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In the surfing community around Monterey and Big Sur, Davi was regarded by many as a kind of unofficial mayor. At 6 feet 3 inches and 240 pounds, his duties sometimes included maintaining order and safety in the surf. With a combination of intimidating size and charisma, he seldom had to do more than ask people politely to behave.

But Davi was also respected for his courage and his skill in riding big waves. In the early 1990s, he was among a clutch of surfers to ride regularly at a treacherous spot called Mavericks, 100 miles north of Monterey at Half Moon Bay. He gained prominence at big-wave spots on the North Shore of Oahu, including Banzai Pipeline, where respect is hard won from local Hawaiians. And he was among the first to ride at Ghost Trees, where he died.

“Pete was well-loved and well-respected worldwide,” Ruffo told SFGate.com. “People from everywhere are calling. He’ll be so missed. He’s the diplomat of surfing. He was an anchor and a bridge between Santa Cruz and Monterey surfers.”

Sion Milosky

Date: March 16, 2011
Place: Maverick’s, Half Moon Bay, California
The Moment: Milosky is caught under a two-wave hold down which he wouldn’t come up from.

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At 50 to 60 feet, the waves were big even for Maverick’s. And Sion Milosky was having quite the session, catching at least six waves. But then the seventh or eighth or ninth came in. Riding the wave, the lip collapsed down on him. What made it worse was that it happened during low tide, when water depths were only 15 to 20 feet. As his board tombstoned, another wave crashed on top of Milosky. The two-wave hold down would get the best of him.

Nathan Fletcher went looking for Milosky by ski, but wouldn’t find him for 20 minutes when he finally located Milosky floating at the Pillar Point Harbor mouth, about a mile from the break.

Milosky had recently been named North Shore Underground Surfer of the Year the month before and was keeping momentum at Maverick’s. “Sion was dominating it. He was out there catching so many waves, he was so good,” said Ken “Skindog” Collins told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “Everybody was like, ‘Who is that? What are you doing letting Hawaiians take over your wave?’ That’s what blows my mind the most is that he was doing all that, and then he drowned.”

Hawaiian Sean Moody also remembered him well, posting to Twitter: “I don’t even know what to say. One of the best humans I’ve ever met. RIP Sion.”

Starting his professional career as a longboard, Milosky quickly rose the ranks as a big wave surfer willing to paddle some of the biggest waves ever.

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