Maverick's or Mavericks is a world-famous, but for some a notorious and deadly, surfing location in Northern California. It is located approximately one-half mile (0.8 km) from shore in Pillar Point Harbor, just north of Half Moon Bay at the village of Princeton-By-The-Sea. After a strong winter storm has occurred in the northern Pacific Ocean, waves can routinely crest at over 25 feet (8m) and top out at over 50 feet (15m). The break is caused by an unusually-shaped underwater rock formation.
Mavericks is a winter destination for some of the world's premier big wave surfers. Very few riders become big wave surfers; and of those, only a select few are willing to risk the hazardous conditions at Maverick's. An invitation-only contest is held there every winter, depending on wave conditions.
The trio left Maverick on shore, but he swam out and caught up with them. Finding the conditions too unsafe for the dog, Matienzo paddled back in and tied Maverick to the car bumper, before rejoining the others. The riders had limited success that day, surfing the tail end of the break and generally deeming the conditions too dangerous.
They decided to name the point after Maverick, who seemed to have gotten the most out of the experience. It became known as "Maverick's Point", and later simply "Maverick's".
In the Special Features section of Riding Giants, Jeff Clark is said to be the next person to surf Mavericks (1975) mentioning that his junior high teacher used to refer to this distant break as Mavericks.
For the next 15 years, Clark continued surfing Maverick's alone. It was Clark's secret winter 'giant north shore-sized surf' surfing spot. Other than a few close friends who had paddled out and seen Maverick's themselves, no one believed in its existence. The popular opinion of the time was that there simply were no large, Hawaii-sized waves in California.
The next two people to surf at Maverick's, on January 22, 1990, in the company of Clark, were Dave Schmidt (brother of big wave legend Richard Schmidt) and Tom Powers, both from Santa Cruz. John Raymond, from Pacifica, and Mark Renneker, from San Francisco, surfed Maverick's a few days later.
Foo's fatal ride occurred in late morning of the first day (December 23, 1994) of riding when (as revealed later on video film), on a late takeoff into an 18-foot wave, Foo caught the edge of his surfboard on the surface of a routine sized big wave and fell into a 'wipe out'. No one knows whether Foo may have been knocked unconscious by his surfboard in the thrashing whitewater of the 'wipe out', got tangled in his 'leash' (the cord that keeps the surfboard attached to the surfer), the leash may have tangled into the rock beneath the ocean, or Foo may have gotten confused in the darkness underwater and failed to float or swim in the correct direction to the surface for air. After a short period of time, fellow surfers became aware that they hadn't seen Foo riding waves anymore, and began urgently searching for him and his surfboard all around the Maverick's beach, nearby parking lots, and surfing water. Sadly, a few hours later Foo's drowned body was found washed toward the shore, floating just under the water surface, with a piece of his surfboard still attached by the leash to his ankle. News of Foo's death instantly traveled to the far reaches of the surfing sport around the globe. Newspapers and watersports magazines extensively covered the loss. The citizens of the Hawaiian Islands (Foo's home) and the surfing world mourned his passing. The unfortunate loss gave Maverick's deadly surf a new warranted, but unwanted notoriety, but also prompted the formation of the Maverick's Water Patrol to protect big wave surfers when they are performing in the dangerous winter surf.
In the surfing sport, Mark Foo's death has brought about a continuing discourse regarding the safe use on extreme size waves of surfboard 'leashes' (a flexible plastic cord which connects, by an ankle belt, surfboards to the ankle of the trailing leg of the surfer when he's riding his surfboard). Many in the surfing sport believe that Foo's surfboard leash may have caused or contributed to his death. The leash proponents defend the leash as a useful convenience and as insurance against losing the surfboard, a form of flotation device, in case of a 'wipe out', and the leash is a means for the fallen surfer to find their way to the surface air by following the leash cord to the floating surfboard above them on the water surface. Opponents of surfboard leashes in big surf state that a leash can cause the surfrider to collide with his board in a 'wipe out', causing head injuries, and the leash can also loop around arms, legs or the surfer's neck when underwater, and thus dangerously restrict movement to safety or, worse, strangle the surfer with his own leash. Quick-release velcro tear-open-collared leashes have since become standard surfing equipment to address some, but not all, of these dangers. The debates and concerns continue unresolved to this date, and these worthwhile discussions of water safety are, perhaps, the legacy of Foo's unfortunate demise.
In October 2006, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary proposed barring personal watercraft from Maverick's, which led to disputes within the sport.
Eric's first movie was 'High Noon at Low Tide' 1994/2005. In 1998 he produced another big wave documentary 'Twenty Feet Under'. Meanwhile Curt Myers, another local filmmaker, had produced 'Shifting Peaks' and 'Heavy Water' 94/95.
On December 11, 1998, during a big Northwest open ocean swell reaching 20-25 feet, Curt Myers was shooting from the water and Eric was shooting from land. On this memorable swell they joined forces and produced the mini documentary 'twelveleven'. On this day Powerlines Productions was born.
Jeff Clark and Maverick's are featured in the 1998 documentary Maverick's, a one hour PBS film that chronicles the break's early years, and the 2004 film Riding Giants, which documents the history of big wave surfing. Directed by skateboarder turned documentary producer Stacey Peralta (best known for the skating documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys), Riding Giants includes interviews and commentary materials with many of the surfers mentioned in this article.