Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mark Foo's Last Ride

Twenty-two miles down Highway 1 from San Francisco, a craggy fist of land called Pillar Point thrusts emphatically into the cold Pacific. Friday, December 23, 1994, dawned fair over this stretch of coast. Mountainous waves crashed against the headlands, spraying up billows of mist that unfurled languidly across the beaches. Beyond the end of the point, some 15 surfers bobbed in the muted winter sunlight, scanning the horizon for approaching swells. It was not uncommon to see surfers off the point--a spot they called Maverick's--dressed in heavy, hooded wetsuits and sitting astride oversize boards. But the hovering helicopter, the three boats of photographers just outside the surf line, and the throng of spectators lining the cliffs suggested that this was no ordinary surf session.

For more than a week, the largest, most perfectly shaped waves in a decade had been thundering over the reef at the end of Pillar Point. Word traveled quickly over the international surfers' grapevine: Maverick's, one of the world's heaviest waves, was going off. Upon hearing the news, a trio of renowned big-wave surfers from Hawaii--Brock Little, Ken Bradshaw, and Mark Foo--hurried to California to join the local crew in the surf. Read on.

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