Also the top six deadliest waves rank in order!
The very famous big wave surfer Garrett McNamara was interviewed by men’s interest magazine D’Marge recently and gave his list of the world’s 6 deadliest waves. We will get to them soon and also a fascinating statement about the potential volume of these sorts of waves but first I must report that I just returned from an assembly at my daughter’s elementary school. Some children were receiving awards for good behavior and others were entered into a drawing for bigger prizes. The principal read them out while the children listened with rapt attention. A Nintendo Switch. The children oooh’d. An Apple Watch. The children aaah’d. A surfboard. The children went mental, clapping and screaming and hooting.
We still got it, baby.
Back to Garrett. The D’Marge piece begins thusly:
Ranking the most dangerous waves in the world is like measuring your dick with Apple’s latest app: controversial. To reduce the subjectivity of judging something that literally changes with the wind, we hit up Garrett McNamara, legendary big wave surfer and 8 year world record holder for surfing the world’s biggest wave, to understand which of the world’s famous big waves are the most dangerous, and why.
Oh and a side note: McNamara says, “There are definitely big waves all over the world that are unchartered and that people aren’t talking about—and a lot of them get overlooked because we’re focussed on where we’re going… I guarantee you there’s tens of thousands of waves like these around the world, and we don’t go on the days when they could be good because we’re at our spots—everybody goes to the wave they like and they know.” For now, this is what we’ve got…
Before we discuss the deadliest six, are there really tens of thousands of unchartered waves like Jaws, Pipeline, Teahupoo etc. around the world? Tens of thousands is a lot but Garrett has seen a lot more than me. What do you think? Tens of thousands?
And now the six from least deadly to most.
6. Jaws: “Jaws has a barrel without too much risk.” It’s also, he tells us, “Pretty deep and there’s a defined channel.” Of course the risk of being underwater for a hell of a long time is there, but if you’re towing you’re pretty safe.”
5. Mavericks: Throughout this time there have been a number of high profile drownings at Mavericks, due to “The Cauldron”, a “hidden threat” just beneath the massive peak which Grant Washburn, longtime Mavericks devotee explained to National Geographic as, “A deep hole in the bottom of the ocean (that) inhales seawater, surging violently with each passing swell… responsible for regular two wave hold-downs, and the deaths of Mark Foo and Sion Milosky.”
4. Shipstern’s Bluff: “Shipstern’s is super high risk,” with a less objectively perfect reward (i.e. it’s not a perfect cylinder like Pipeline or Teahupoo). “The reward is there,” he says, “But the potential for injury is higher because it’s not perfect.”
3. Pipeline: Coming in at number one on most “Most Dangerous Waves” lists, more people have died surfing Pipeline, on Hawaii’s North Shore, than any other place (since 1989 it has taken the lives of seven surfers, and threatened the lives of countless others). However, contrary to popular belief, a wave’s death toll does not reveal its lethality so much as it indicates the number of people that surf it regularly.
2. Teahupoo: Garrett concluded that Teahupoo provides the greatest risk and greatest reward of all the waves he’s surfed. Since discovering Nazare (the world’s biggest wave, which doesn’t really barrel) back in the late 2000’s, Garrett’s focus has now changed: “I’d much rather get the best barrel—I searched for the biggest wave in the world and found it. I still go back there but now my focus is perfect barrels.”
1. Nazare: “It’s way harder than jaws—it has every bit of the challenge as Jaws as far as the wave and the chop, but it moves around and there are no channels so you’re never sure if you’re ok.”
Do you agree or are you out trying to find one of those tens of thousands gems?