Former SURFER Editor/Author

The Inertia

Condensing one hundred years of the greatest moments in big-wave surfing into one book isn’t easy.

A lot happened in big-wave world for the winter of 2013/2014: Twiggy winning the Mavericks contest, the Hercules swell and giant days from Portugal to Ireland, Maya Gabeira almost drowning at Nazare while Carlos Burle got close to a hundred-footer, Jamie Mitchell at Belharra, tow surfing returning to Jaws for the shooting of Point Break IIand those are just some of the highlights from what happened.

A lot happened this winter, a lot has happened in big-wave surfing in the last five years, the last 10 years and the last 100 years.

MVP Publishing has asked me to compile 82 pages of the Greatest Moments in Big Wave Surfing, and I need your help.

I worked at Surfer Magazine from 1989 to 1998, and during that time, I wrote about many of these events: The first article on Mavericks in 1990, the rise of tow surfing in 1992, the tragic drownings of Mark Foo, Donnie Solomon, Todd Chesser and Jay Moriarity.

Now I’m attempting to condense 100 years of big-wave surfing into the Greatest Moments – and it’s not easy.

Some of them are obvious: The first day at Waimea Bay in 1965, the Swell of 1969, the 1974 Smirnoff, Laird’s 2000 Millennium Wave, Shawn Dollar paddling into that 60’+ bomb at Cortes Bank in the winter of 201/2013.

But as you get into the 21st century, the contenders for Greatest Moments get denser and denser. Evan Slater said: Half of the entries should come from the last five years. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but so many barriers have been shattered since 2009 — don’t brush over it.  The paddle vest is the key.”

The inflatable paddling vest is one of the technologies that has given big-wave surfers the extra courage to paddle into the Unridden Realm. Those inflatable paddling vests are like a reverse parachute – if a big-wave surfer eats it, they know they are going to come up.

Greatest Moments will also be about surfboard design, technological advances and media that have allowed surfers to push the barriers: the elephant guns of the 1950s, mini-guns of the 1970s, paddling gloves, Personal Watercraft, four fins, the golden carrot of the XXL Awards and now inflatable paddling vests.

A lot to condense into one book, so I need input and opinions. Right now, there is a 92-page timeline of all the major incidents in big-wave surfing that covers 100+ years of incidents: Duke’s mile-long ride in 1917, the death of Dickie Cross in 1943, the flood of “coast haole” to Makaha after that AP photo hit mainland newspapers, the shift from Makaha to the North Shore, Darrick Doerner’s Super Bowl Sunday bomb, Garret McNamara’s insane tuberide at Jaws in November of 2002, Michael Ho and Bruce Irons pulling into the shorebreak at Waimea for the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau events – and all of the Eddie contests.

They’re all Greatest Moments. On and on through the decades, from Makaha to Mavericks, Duke to Dorian, hollow olo to tow boards, Ride the Wild Surf to Riding Giants.

Evan Slater also said: “Shane Dorian’s wave at Jaws in 2013 is the greatest big wave ever surfed in the history of the universe. Don’t forget that one. Even though it won the XXL award, it needs to be placed in historical context. No one has ridden a wave that big that well. Ever.”

Evan has opinions. Brock Little has opinions. A lot of people have opinions but, while I’m writing Go Big: Greatest Moments in Big Wave Surfing, I would like to hear yours.

The gallery above gives examples of a dozen possible Greatest Moments. Pick a few, and click the links below to help out.

There is a Facebook page for the book up and running, and there is also a struggling IndieGoGo crowdfunder that could use your help, too.


Only the best. We promise.


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