I was beyond stoked when looking through Surfline's feature on the insane conditions that happened at Mavericks on February 4th, to see buddy and Aqua Team Rider Ben Andrews getting the absolute bomb of the session! Ben got a little kicker in on a outside set wave, and basically slid so damn perfectly down the face (which seemed to take like 20 seconds for da entire drop to transpire), at the bottom he set his line with the most casual- downright relaxed bottom turn I've ever seen someone do out there. I almost spit my beer all over the computer when I watched the video (Ben's wave is at 1.32). I asked Ben to give us his insight on this special session- which might of been the best day ever at Mavericks!
Screenshot from Surfline video linked above.
Ben: That day was indeed a special one. Things started out on the “slow” side due to a really high tide in the morning so I was able to relax, take my time getting ready and have a couple eggs and some yogurt with walnuts. It was a perfect California day with high pressure in place, warm sunny skies and favorable winds. Everything seemed to be in place that morning. Figuring that the main lot would be crowded with surfers and dog walkers jockeying for parking, I decided I’d park at a secondary parking area. I pulled up and there were no spots there either. I saw Wyatt Fields who found me a spot that I was convinced was too small for my truck, but he was right, and with his help, I was able to fit into the spot. That morning, I had brought along a new pair of booties that were still in the box. As I suited up, I slipped on my bootie and something didn’t feel right. They were round-toe! It would’ve cost me another half hour to go get my split-toe booties which I decided was too much time to waste so I ended up going with no booties, a first for me at Mavericks.
It was a big day and most guys were going out on boats or paddling the long way out through the lagoon south of the break. I decided that I would paddle out from the north end of the break, something less commonly done because of the danger and difficulty in getting out beyond the waves that crash along the reef there. I had to be patient since the sets were fairly consistent. When there was a break in the sets, I jumped off the rocks and had a successful paddle out into the lineup. I remember taking a few breaks on the paddle out to watch some of the waves that were breaking, and going unridden. I knew that it had to be pretty heavy since waves were going unridden and there were probably 30 plus hungry surfers in the lineup. They were big, beautiful and hollow waves.
I made my way into the lineup and saw many familiar faces as well as some new ones. There were a lot of guys out which is typical these days out at Mavericks. The cool thing is that there is still the dedicated local crew and still many days at Mavs that are incredible and uncrowded. There were a lot of waves coming through and I stroked into my first one within about 10-15 minutes of being out. It wasn't a bigger set, but it popped up nicely on the main bowl and allowed me a smooth fun drop and ride which I kicked out of in the channel. I remember noticing my board feeling a little hard due to the fact that I wasn't wearing booties. I was feeling good having broken the ice and getting into one relatively quickly.
There were big, scary waves which made being constantly aware of the incoming sets essential to avoid being caught inside and cleaned up by one of these monsters. It reminded me of the 2010 Mavericks contest in which I was cleaned up by the biggest set of the morning before I had a chance to catch a wave. I was hoping that wouldn't happen that day. Not long after my first wave, I saw the horizon get loaded up with a few very large lumps. It was a big set approaching! I was the furthest guy out in the lineup and started scratching for the outside because I wanted to be out far enough not to be caught by the large approaching set. I let the first one go, it was a huge unapproachable wave that I wanted no part of. Apparently, Nic Vaugh went on it and got annihilated. The next one was about to break even further out and was the biggest wave I had seen come through yet. I wanted to avoid it but as it approached, it swung a little wide and backed off just enough to make me realize that I was in a good spot to catch this wave. I didn't have to do much and only had to paddle hard about three or four paddles, I was in the perfect spot and the wave caught me. As it loaded up and I popped to my feet, I remember it looking like a long way to the bottom. It was a smooth entry but the drop seemed to go on forever and the wave had some steep parts on the way down the face. The hardest and scariest part of the wave was the drop, so once I made that part, it felt like the hard work was done so I leaned into a "soul arch" on the bottom turn. I knew I had it made by then. I got spit on pretty hard by the barrel and when I kicked out there was screaming in the channel. It felt amazing, it was such a rush! People were yelling, clapping and as I paddled back into the lineup, all the guys were congratulating me on the wave. It was a very special feeling and definitely one of my best ever rides at Mavericks. A lot of the biggest waves you can catch out there end up closing out on you but this one allowed me to ride it successfully and kick out in the channel.
I was riding a board I've had for probably over 5-6 years now. It's a 9'7" Randy Cone thruster and has channeled rails that he built in, mostly for strength I think. Randy doesn't shape a lot of boards but he shapes them very well for Mavericks because he knows the wave and has himself been a standout surfer out there. Those several years ago, he had a stack of surfboard blanks and one of them was a "Clark Foam" blank. I am so happy to have claimed that blank and that he shaped it for me because it's been a Magic board. Thanks Randy!
That morning, I was thinking a lot about an 84 year old dear friend, John Braid who had passed away just days before. I also though about Sion Milosky that morning as I do many times when I pass the little hill that Nate Fletcher and I built a little shrine on in his dedication the day after his passing. I'm convinced that this was a gift from John and Sion. I feel very blessed to have been a part of that day and to have caught that wave. Aloha, Ben Andrews
Picture by Ryan Chachi Craig