Maverick Wave Theory | Science | Smithsonian
Current Issue
September 2014  magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Maverick Wave Theory

smithsonian.com
mavs.jpg
Yes, those are actual people on either side of the white part of this crashing wave. This was Saturday, at the big-wave break known as Mavericks just south of San Francisco. A surfing contest drew some 20 demented surfers from all over the world, where they took turns throwing themselves over the edge of a 30-foot-high wave. If you missed it, you can get a
recap and see up-close photos at a prominent surfing website - or watch the archived play-by-play on Myspace. Alternatively, well-spoken surfer Grant Washburn can give you a first-hand account without resorting to the word "gnarly" - listen to him on NPR here and here, describing an even bigger day earlier this season. Wondering what it is about a place that makes waves lurch 30 or 50 feet out of the ocean, to crash ashore with enough force to register at earthquake sensors? Check out Quest, a show about science on San Francisco public television. They've put together a segment revealing how big waves come to be ( watch it online). Turns out it takes a combination of storms hundreds of miles away, and rock ledges just a few feet below the surface. If you're curious about how to get a surfboard to do what you want, San Francisco's Exploratorium museum has a primer on surfing and physics. The sport is a complex mixture of buoyancy battling gravity, but this piece breaks down the major ingredients of a ride. So hop into your wetsuit and grab your surf wax - you're ready! Just promise me you'll keep to waves one-tenth the size of Mavericks. ( Flickr: Jurvetson)
Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus