Surf Gear

Picking the top 40 big wave moments from the past 100 years

Jay Moriarity © Vern Fisher

Big wave surfing has leaped to unimaginable levels over the last 5 years, with the real focus of the big-wave elite returning to paddle surfing. Thanks to advances in technology, continued dedication and an ever-growing interest in the discipline (the ASP recently acquired the Big Wave World Tour), the trend looks set to continue and who knows where’s the limit!

In a new book project called ‘Go Big: Greatest Moments in Big Wave Surfing’, author Ben Marcus aims to wade through the last 100 years of big-wave surfing history to determine those 40 Greatest Moments that have mattered most. But the history of big wave surfing is dense and getting denser every day. Just look at what’s happened this past winter: The Hercules Swell and Jamie Mitchell’s Belharra bomb, Maya Gabeira nearly drowning at Nazare, Twiggy winning the Mavericks contest…

While some of the Greatest Moments are clearly no brainers, the real hard part/fun will of course be sorting out the 40 or so surfers, discoveries, incidents, innovations and big days that are on the Mount Rushmore of big wave history: From Makaha to Mavericks, Duke to Dorian, olo to PWC, elephant guns to paddle vests, paddle surfing to tow surfing and back. But to do this properly the author needs your help! See something missing? Or something that shouldn’t be there? Connect with Ben Marcus via the book’s Facebook page and let him know your thoughts.

Garrett McNamara at Peahi © Ron Dahlquist/National Geographic

To get you started, here’s a handful of no-brainer Greatest Moments already set to feature:

  • The Swell of ’69 at Makaha with Greg Noll.
  • The 1990 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay.
  • The 1992 week at Mavericks that ended Mark Foo’s legend, and began Jay Moriarity’s.
  • The innovation of tow surfing around 1992 by Laird, Buzzy, Darrick and their Strapped friends.
  • Laird Hamilton’s incredible Millennium Wave at Teahupoo in August of 2000.
  • Garrett McNamara’s balls-out barrel at Jaws in 2002
  • In 2013, Shawn Dollar’s 61-foot paddle in at Cortes Bank and Shane Dorian’s XXL-winning Ride of the Year paddle-in and barrel at Jaws.


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