Big-wave surfer Mark Healey on a huge wave at Jaws during the October 2012 swell; Photograph by Zak Noyle/A-Frame
For all of human history, waves have been a byword for “danger.” They drown swimmers, sink ships, and swamp entire towns with an inexorability and indifference that mocks the frailty of man in the intermittent roar and murmur of moving water.
While many old maritime fears have died out in our modern age of monolithic cruise ships, detailed weather algorithms, and satellite navigation, the wave remains uniquely menacing to all but a very select few. Ironically, surfers have changed the way we look at waves, not through any technological advancement, but by dedicated themselves to a Pre-Columbian diversion in which they challenge the sea with little more accouterment than and a glorified buoy with fins on one side.
Big-wave surfing as we know it today is a relatively new pursuit…
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