Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Surfing [Print without images]

Friday, November 23, 2012
Turkey trotting at Maverick's


Shawn Dollar
Opening day, opening wave. Shawn Dollar gets the honors this year.

Although anything but epic, the annual Maverick's Thanksgiving gathering of the peak took place in a solid 12- to 15-foot swell, and with a who's who of Maverick's chargers looking to kick-off the North Pacific big-wave season there was plenty of talent spread out over the two-day swell.

Coming off of a week of rain and south wind, surface conditions were unsettled at best. Maverick's can get really scary having a south wind chop racing up the face as you drop in on a ten-foot gun. But high pressure moved in quickly and the wind turned out to be not much of a factor. It actually switched to a brisk northwest by the end of both days.

The lack of huge waves and decent conditions didn't dampen anybody's spirit. "It was a turkey swell, some bits were good and some bad, but in the end we were all satisfied," laughed Grant "Twiggy" Baker, South African big-wave charger and 2008 Maverick's contest champion.

Long time friend and global swell chaser Greg Long joined Twiggy for the Maverick's pilgrimage. Long, also a former Maverick's champ and probably the most prolific big-wave surfer of all time, has been making his rounds on the big-wave circuit fresh off one of the most epic in paddle-in days in surfing history.

Grant
Grant "Twiggy" Baker was all in when Maverick's rumbled to life over the holiday weekend.

While the swell didn't produce anything on the scale of the Peahi sessions, it still had its moments and offered up a few epic late drops, back-lit waves, and wipeouts. "It might not always be massive, but you can nearly guarantee there will be some Thanksgiving fun to be had at Mavericks every year," said Long. "Fortunately the timing on this one was perfect. I was able to get some fun waves and still fly home in time for dinner with the family."

Long and Twiggy are now considered part of the local crew out at Maverick's and got the lion's share of the waves. Along with the powerhouse duo there were plenty of Maverick's veterans on hand for this swell, including Jeff Clark, Alex Martins, Grant Washburn, Shawn Dollar, Ryan Seelbach, Joa de Macedo, Tyler Fox and young chargers Frank Solomon, Colin Dwyer and Travis Payne. They all dusted the cobwebs off of their rhino chasers and traded good waves during the two-day swell. Maverick's actually broke way back in September, but this swell felt like the real opening day having the whole crew on hand during the holidays.

"It seems ridiculous but once again the holiday brought quality big surf," says Grant Washburn, a Maverick's mainstay. "My wife actually plans on Maverick's breaking on all family gatherings at this point."

Although it doesn't require too much convincing it helps on our end to produce proper proof of said swell. "It's not Thanksgiving without a Mavericks swell," jokes Mark Sponsler, Maverick's weather wizard and founder of Stormsurf.com. "The real answer though is that it's just dumb luck."

Greg Long
There's only one thing that makes this man giggle like this. Greg Long, happy that it's that time of year again. He even made it home for turkey dinner.

Historically, Maverick's has delivered some of its most epic swells during the week of Thanksgiving, including one of the most memorable in 2007 when Tony Hawk charted the now infamous Hulicat to take his family out to view the break. Caught deep inside, the Hulicat, a fifty-foot charter fishing boat, launched over a wave with Grandma Hawk holding on to the bow flagpole. Grandma and the rest of the family survived the day and made it to dinner.

"This time of year the odds are good it will break any day," says Sponsler. "Winter is moving in and the upstream is configuring itself in favor of storm and therefore swell development."