Movie Review By Heather Clisby
Just north of Half Moon Bay in Northern California, there is a notorious surf spot where few dare to venture but many come to see. Adventure filmmaker Lili Schad and surfer Grant Washburn got together to document this treacherous and bewitching place, the result is "Maverick's" and the evidence is impressive. Narrating the film, Washburn begins, "for every fantasy that beckons, there is a horror story."
Maverick's, named for a very loyal and surf-loving German Shepherd, has come to be known as the ultimate big wave spot. Just 12 years ago, it was known as "Mystos", short for "Mysterioso" and local surfers simply considered the monster waves, four stories high, totally unrideable. As Mark Renneker, aka Doc Hazard, observed, "when the waves broke, they would literally detonate, create shock waves and send up plumes of debris."
Along came Jeff Clark, who paddled out alone at age 17 in 1975 and did the unthinkable. For the next 15 years, Clark was the only rider fool enough to take Maverick's thunderous beatings. "It's like having an avalanche come down on your head," he said, "and if you survive it, there's another one right behind it."
Gradually, Clark convinced others to join him and in the Spring of 1994, Maverick's was fully discovered. A full media circus descended, complete with helicopters and highly publicized wipeouts. A reality check came in the Winter of '94 when Hawaiian surf star, Mark Foo, met his death in "The Pit" at Maverick's. Possibly out of guilt, the famed waves slept for two years, then reawakened with the crazy rage of El Nino.
Interviews with regular Maverick's riders, illustrates the powerful elixir that Mother Nature has created. "It's kind of spooky," said Alex Martienzo, "to see this giant thing casting shadows out of nowhere." Breaking just past a steep reef, underneath the action there are rock arches big enough to swim through. Oh yeah, and it's really cold and there are sharks but nobody even mentions that.
With a soundtrack by the quietly famous surf group, The Mermen, "Maverick's" is a documentary for anyone interested in adventure and the power of raw Nature. The footage is incredible, all of the rides invoke real terror. Everyone in the audience "oohed," "wowed," gasped and shook their heads. I kept hearing the word "insane" being whispered throughout the event.
As Washburn concluded: "The thing about Maverick's, it always wins." Be afraid, be very afraid -- and hold your breath.
© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 6/3/98
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