The mythic spot 100 miles offshore was downright perfect on Friday the 13th
Not to revel in a lot of people’s misery, but while the recent deluge was hitting California the past couple of weeks, surfers have been enjoying a seemingly nonstop run of waves.
From Rincon to Blacks Beach and just about everywhere in between, for those who were in the right place at the right time, there’s been a whole lot of scoring happening.
And while Salt Creek has been particularly good to local surfers as of late, the epic run of swell culminated with a mission 100 miles off the coast to the infamous Cortes Bank on Friday, Jan. 13.
Intrepid big-wave explorer Bill Sharp organized this mission as part of the “100 Foot Wave” project that he’s been working on for HBO. It features an all-star crew of international chargers, including Brazil’s Lucas Chumbo, France’s Justine Dupont, Portugal’s Nic Von Rupp, England’s Andrew Cotton and Hawaii’s Garrett McNamara.
“I’ve spent 40 years in surf media and big wave events and done a lot of good stuff, but Friday’s mission to Cortes Bank for ‘100 Foot Wave’ was the pinnacle of my career,” marveled Sharp on Instagram.
Greeted by massive waves and picture-perfect conditions, Dupont may not have only bagged the wave of the trip, but there’s speculation she set a new world record in the process. Dupont has dedicated her life to riding giant waves, most notably at Nazare in Portugal, but her Cortes performance may put her in another league.
“All I can say is holy (expletive)! New world record,” shared McNamara on Instagram.
There appears to have been no shortage of excited expletives, as almost everyone’s response has been one of wonder and disbelief.
“We found the most insane pristine big waves I have ever witnessed,” concurred Von Rupp. “I’d imagined myself surfing most of the big wave spots around world, but never Cortes … probably the most insane trip of my life.”
“Twenty years ago, almost to the date I met Garrett McNamara as a 17-year-old frothing grom. Somehow, I wiggled my way onto his boat to Cortes. Now, come full circle to yesterday’s 100-foot wave strike mission, it’s one of the most incredible trips of my life; forever grateful,” added the East Coast’s Will Skudin.
In total, the crew loaded nine jet skis with all their safety gear onto a boat and set out to make some history. Along for the ride was author Chris Dixon, whose book Ghost Wave offers the definitive story of Cortes Bank.
“I’ve been to Cortes four times now,” explained Dixon on social media. “These were the biggest, most pristine conditions I’ve seen.”
“My appreciation to Bill Sharp for another mission to this mythical spot can’t be overstated. Nor can how stoked I am for Bill at having utterly nailed this,” Dixon continued. “Sean Collins and Larry ‘Flame’ Moore would be so damn proud.”
Collins, the founder of Surfline and father of surf forecasting, and Moore, the photo editor for Surfing magazine, had long considered Cortes Bank to be big-wave surfing’s ultimate frontier. Sadly, both men are no longer with us, but to Dixon’s point, they sure would have been stoked to see what went down out there last week.
Sharp’s first foray into the blue abyss of Cortes Bank was with Moore back in 1995. They scored a relatively small day out there (15 feet) with glassy conditions. On that trip, George Hulse became the first surfer to ride a wave at Cortes.
The true size and power of the spot became apparent after another mission out there in 2001 in which Ken Collins, Peter Mel, Brad Gerlach and Mike Parsons, plus paddle-surfers Evan Slater and John Walla, experienced the break in all its glory. The most recent Friday the 13th mission out there was a resounding success, with epic waves ridden and all involved making it safely back to port when it was all over