Best Wave Ever? A Must-Watch Charge at Mavericks

Surfer Peter Mel took on pinnacle Mavericks for a ride that will become the measuring stick for all others.

January is often the peak month for big waves off the California coast, especially at a surf spot known as Mavericks. This is when storms in the Gulf of Alaska push against pressure systems near the equator, causing consistent swells that start at 25 feet and top out around 60 feet.

Big-wave surfers flock to the area, about 25 miles out from San Francisco. Surfers stay close in case there’s an outbreak of larger waves.

On Jan. 8, storm conditions built up to maximal swells at Mavericks. Local-ish surfer Pete Mel, of Santa Cruz, was among those taking on the massive, steep waves.

We won’t pretend to be expert enough to compare this ride to all others. And the surfing community is prone to hyperbole. But, however you look at it, this feat is jaw-dropping.

In the video, watch Mel start in on an immense wave, hold steady as it bottoms out, and emerge from the barrel to the emphatic cheers of spectators.

Judging by his body language, Mel is struck by the enormity of it all too.

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M.T. Elliott

M.T. Elliott is a Denver-based writer. He can be found wandering the city with his nose in a book or pouring craft beers. His trail runs and bike rides are easily distracted by birds. He’s about a 7 on fishing.