A dissection of a Mavericks wipeout from hell.
It ain’t easy on the ego discussing big waves with the guys and gals who ride them for a living. It’s all “40-footers” “two-wave hold downs” “fun” and “couldn’t get to the cord on my inflatable vest” bookended with a casual “you know? Well, no, I don’t. And won’t. Ever.
Fortunately, as has been discussed here before, our big wave brethren are always ready to answer the phone to discuss such antics. Such was the case with Californian big wave hunter, Nic Vaughan. Nic found himself eligible for 2016 XXL Wipeout of the Year Award after a most spectacular poleaxing at Mavericks earlier this month.
The image of Nic suspended in the lip of beast drew comparisons to the late Jay Moriarty’s iconic Iron Cross wipeout, which pretty much put Mavs on the map in the first place.
When Tracks calls Nic was cruising back up Highway 101 in a car crammed with 9-10 footers ready for another swing at Mavs because as he so eloquently puts it, “You gotta get back on the horse you know?”
Right, of course you do.
“What I remember most about that morning was paddling out seeing these perfect, perfect 40 footers just blowing their guts out and it was hard to stay in the moment and not get too worked up,” he begins, before getting to wipeout itself.
“That set came through and I was in the spot and had to go. I turned and paddled as hard as I could and as I was getting to my feet I felt like it was really letting me in and I was going to make it.”
“It lurched right as I got to my feet and I think that might have set me up just a little bit and then those 10-15 knot offshores just grabbed my board like a kite dude. I’ve had that happen before out there and was able to stick it.
But not this time:
“Then I just started to go sideways and once you go sideways, you’re pretty much done. That’s definitely a bad spot to be, you kind of realise this is what all this training is for. You got to roll up into a ball and think calm and grassy meadows.”
Grassy meadows? Ross Clarke-Jones reckons he imagines himself in a night club surrounded by lovely ladies but you think grassy meadows?
“Yeah, I think about the meadow across the street from my house. They’re grassy.”
The beat down itself?
It’s hard to recount that, because you block it out a bit. I remember cartwheeling down into the pit, rolling into a ball and getting ready for the ride after the ride. But I was actually pretty spared on that one although I couldn't find the strap for my inflatable so I had to do it old school and came up without it. It was definitely a bad beating but I’ve had worse ones out there. ”
Up for air then what?
“The next one was the one that got me. It was freight training across and I was at a standstill. It hit me like a Mack truck. It's pretty heavy confronting one of those things with your vest blown up, you're like a little rubber ducky."
Those situations can go one of two ways. You can either get in your own head about it and it will start to mess with your head, or start thinking, oh wow, I was able to handle that. It just comes with experience, you need to take a couple good falls and realising it's not the end of your session. I was pretty lucky thought with this one. I've had others where I really got my bell rung, but I ended up paddling back out after this one. No worries.
Side note; the reception between our Australian landline and Nic’s car phone was so incredibly crisp you can listen in on Soundcloud, below.
Here's the video, courtesy of Surfline.