Wicked Weather Gives Sufers 70-Foot Waves

Daredevil surfers are riding the biggest waves in two years thanks to the wicked weather along the Pacific coast this week.

The dangerous waves have already claimed a life, but riders are still risking it for the annual Mavericks Surf Contest that opened Friday.

Extreme Danger

Surfing legend Peter Davi of Monterey, Calif., drowned in the 20-foot waves along the Ghost Tress break near Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Though fellow surfers are mourning the loss, they're not about to play it safe.

"We just lost a friend," said "big wave" surfer Russell Smith. "What would Pete want us to do? And the first thing I thought was he would want us to go out and ride these huge bombs."

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The Craving

Every year for three-and-a-half months, the world's best "big wave" surfers meet in Half Moon Bay near San Francisco for a chance to compete in the most extreme surfing event -- the Mavericks Surf Contest.

Even though winning is a great honor and there's big money at stake, these fearless surfers say they're in it for the thrill.

"It's a rush, it's a crazy rush" explained Mavericks competitor Grant "Twiggy" Baker.

"We love being in the ocean when it's stormy and crazy," said Grant Washburn, another Mavericks competitor. "There's not a guy who's playing here for the money. It's straight up fun."

At the Mavericks in Northern California, they face frigid water, jagged rocks, dangerous currents and sharks.

"Anybody who wants to surf at the Mavericks has to stay focused, smart or you're not coming back to the beach," said Washburn.

Mavericks contest founder Jeff Clark put it this way: "You're being picked up by a mountain of water, and this mountain of water is chasing you and allowing you to fly. It's the edge, you're playing with the edge."

Never Big Enough

While the contest officially kicked off Friday, the actual surfing won't begin until the perfect storm of waves hits the coast.

"Fifty-five knot wind will be great," said storm surf forecaster Mark Spomsler. "We want seas in the 40- to 45-foot range all aimed right at us. That'll make a giant swell pushing right into Half Moon Bay and set us up perfectly for the contest."

This year, they might see the biggest waves ever after an unprecedented storm attacked the beaches up and down the Pacific coast with 60 to 70 ft waves.

The surfers are essentially on call 24 hours a day during the Mavericks. They are all waiting for the big phone call that alerts them that the perfect set of waves has arrived and it is time to head to the beach.

Click here for more on the Mavericks Surf Contest

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