A Monster in Half Moon Bay

Jeff Clark was moody and fearless—the kind of guy Northern California surfers had in mind when they half-complimented someone as “psycho.” For 15 years, beginning in 1975, Clark invited local surfers to paddle out to Maverick's with him, describing the wave as “better than Waimea.” Everybody declined.

As exciting as the 1980s rediscovery of big-wave surfing was, the whole thing had a slightly retrograde quality. It wasn’t as obvious as longboarding, which wore the sport’s past glory like splashed-on cologne. But plenty of big-wave surfing’s reference points had been established decades earlier: Waimea remained the ultimate break; the point-and-go style ruled; master shaper Dick Brewer, who’d cr...

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