Big wave surfer Flea, aka Darryl Virostko, took on a monster wave at Maverick last week and lived to tell the tale. Grant Washburn, Maverick’s “standout” and wave chronicler maintains the wave faces approached 80 feet in height, an eight story building of a wave.
“Probably the biggest day ever surfed at Maverick’s,” said Washburn. “A couple of other days are in the ballpark. But what really stood out was the performance level. Guys were turning, carving, snapping off the top, getting barreled like never before.”
“Definitely the worst wipe-out I’ve seen,” said photographer Frank Quirarte, whose stunning still images (more on http://www.mavsurfer.com) captured a session not even visible for fog-shrouded spectators on land. “There was a lot of stoke in the air, guys hooting each other’s rides, but when Flea went down, everything just stopped. We all thought he was dead.”
“All I remember,” said Flea, “is taking a big breath, then seeing the sky fall. I don’t even know what happened after that. It was bad. But somehow, I popped up pretty quick (thanks in large part to a life vest, now a staple for big-wave tow-surfers).”
“The most amazing part,” said Peter Mel, Flea’s longtime contemporary from Santa Cruz, “is that he went right back to catch more waves. He actually took another hideous wipeout and popped up from that one, too. … That’s what separates him from just about everyone else.”
No one who surfed “The Big Ugly,” as that Tuesday is being called, will soon forget it. Mel, long regarded as the most smooth-flowing performer at Maverick’s, had three great rides but also a “train-wreck” wipeout that found him having to go under two vicious waves that broke directly in front of him.
Kudos to Frank Quirarte’s stunning photography and to Flea and the boys at Maverick who lived to tell the tale of Ugly Tuesday.
By Little Baby Ginn