Some surfers this week took on towering waves at popular Bay Area surfing spots, including world-renowned Mavericks near Half Moon Bay and Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz.
At Mavericks, 40- to 50-foot waves, a glassy surface and calm weather proved to be ideal for thrill-seeking surfers. Legendary Mavericks surfer Grant Washburn of San Francisco called it epic.
"It is really intense, like, life-threatening intense, just to be in the water on those days, but then everybody’s having fun so it’s kind of a trade-off," he said.
Veteran Mavericks participants made sure there were trained safety and rescue crews on hand.
"I saw some incredible wipeouts and I saw Tim West was out there all day long on a jet ski grabbing people out of danger right away," Brian Overfelt, a local restaurant owner, said Wednesday. "So yesterday, there was a few broken boards but there were no broken limbs.”
Hunter Murson, an aspiring professional surfer, said it was a dangerous time for amateurs.
"If you don’t know the lineup or it’s your first time out there in the biggest swell of the year, anything like that, it’s probably not the best day to go out and learn the spot," he said.
Mavericks is famous for hosting a world-renowned contest when the ideal conditions line up, but there hasn't been one in five years. The future of the event remains up in the air, but for now, Mavericks surf contest founder Jeff Clark said he didn’t mind.
"During a contest, only 24 guys get to surf, right, and there’s a lot more guys that deserve the shot to go surf the biggest, best Mavericks we’ve seen in 10 years," he said.
Beaches up and down the Bay Area coastline were under either a high surf warning or high surf advisory through 9 p.m. Tuesday due to the adrenaline-inducing conditions. The waves eased slightly into Wednesday, but conditions were still rough enough for the National Weather Service to keep a high surf advisory in place for most coastal locations through 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The weather service said Tuesday northwest swells were expected to range anywhere from 13 to 18 feet, with some breaking waves peaking at about 25 feet at west to northwest facing beaches. Some "favored breakpoints" were expected to see even bigger waves, the weather service said.
People at the coast were advised to stay away from the water, stay off jetties and keep an eye on their pets.
"Do not go near or in the water today," the weather service said in a tweet Tuesday. "Extremely dangerous size, currents, and bone chilling water temperatures. Enjoy the natural world from a safe distance."
Some people who showed up to watch the surfers received tickets because they were parked in a fire lane.