Senior Editor
The debris field on the inside at Maverick's after an experienced Captain got caught by the unexpected.

The debris field on the inside at Maverick’s after an experienced Captain got caught by the unexpected. Image: Pedro Bala

The Inertia

So, Maverick’s got really big. Unless you’re one of those people who isn’t on any form of website or social media, you may have heard about it. It got so big, in fact, that Peter Mel—a man who has put his time in at Mav’s—said one wave he took on the head was “easily the biggest wave I’ve ever been caught by out there.” Mel was in awe of the conditions. “What was going on this morning, I’ve only seen it in that range maybe two or three times before,” he told the WSL. “It looks like a national monument at that size. It’s like checking out Niagara Falls.”

As is to be expected on days like January 18th, Mother Nature made things a little difficult, not only for the surfers but for everyone in the lineup. Take, for example, Tim Bonython’s Instagram clip of Andrew Dorn, whose boat got caught by a wide swinging set of nearly unimaginable proportions:

Now, before you start yelling about how bad at piloting a vessel the captain must be, know this: the conditions that day were unlike they’ve been in decades. Dorn is not new to this kind of thing. “Dorn knows what he’s doing,” Frank Quirarte, one of the best Mav’s photographers in the game, said to the WSL. “He’s been doing it as long as anyone. But I don’t think any of us were prepared for how wide the sets were swinging today. Thank god we got that first boat out of there, because the very next set that came in would have destroyed it.”

Luckily, everyone escaped unscathed, thanks to Quirarte, who, like many others in the big wave arena, are constantly on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. In moments, Quirarte and Todd Turner (an all-around Maverick’s man) pulled them from the frigid water and took them to safety. While many may have called it a day, that harrowing experience was just the beginning for Quirarte. Lucas Chianca, a big wave surfer who you probably know from his escapades at Nazaré, happened to have a few things on the Dorn’s boat that he wanted to retrieve. They were floating on the inside, and Quirarte decided he’d follow Chianca, just in case. Something jammed into the intake of his ski, and he was forced to ditch it. “The next thing you know,” he told the WSL, “there was a huge set coming and we had to get out of there. We scuttled the ski…and then just watched it get destroyed.”


Quirarte, for his part, doesn’t seem too concerned. It’s all in a day’s work, after all, and when conditions get as hairy as they did on January 18th, the most experienced people in the lineup know to expect the unexpected. “Everything we lost is replaceable,” he said. “It could have been much, much worse.”


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