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Jeff Clark Charges GIANT Waves


Written by: BMZ Staff
Date: Oct 10, 2000

Adventures in Wild California's Jeff Clark discovered a world-class giant-wave break in his backyard and had it virtually to himself for over 10 years before the big-wave world converged...


Category: Interviews

Job: Professional Surfer
Passion: The power of the ocean
Dream: To ride into the heart of the world's biggest, most powerful waves

A native of California, Jeff Clark was born in Redwood City and moved to Half Moon Bay in 1966, where he has remained ever since becoming a local and international hero by pioneering Maverick's, the surfing spot with California's, and some of the world's, most monstrous waves.

Clark first surfed Maverick's in 1975, as a hard-charging 17 year-old, stunned to find hidden 25-foot waves detonating right in his own backyard. For 15 years, he was the secret area's lone surfer, inventing a form of highly committed surfing in which there can be no mistakes - or you pay with your life. As rumors of Clark's monster-wave playground began to spread, so did tales of his extreme bravery and ability. He quickly became one of the most renowned and respected surfers in the world.

Jeff Clark is one of surfing's leading innovators in every way. He shapes and designs his own boards, specially engineered to withstand the hard and fast conditions at Maverick's. He is also the Contest Director for the annual surfing competition at Maverick's, one of the premier big-wave contests in the world. Clark is sponsored by Quiksilver, the world's leading boardriding company. When he's not surfing, he's busy raising three children.

Q: What does "wild California" mean to you?

A: To me, wild California is the part of California that you experience when you step outside your usual experience, when you cross the line and start taking risks. For a lot of people, the wild is only seen through a window, but there are those of us who know no boundaries, who will step out of an airplane or ride a giant wave. I think that is what the film ADVENTURES IN WILD CALIFORNIA depicts: those of us who are driven by adrenaline and by the strong desire for new experiences.

Q: What does IMAX® photography bring to surfing?

A: A 70-foot screen is the only way to do justice to the biggest waves in the world. The thing about Maverick's is that it is so far out in the ocean that views of it are very limited in person. Unless you're there in the water, it's impossible to truly know what it feels like out there. With the IMAX camera, for the first time you can really get a good sense of the power that exists out there. It was really exciting to have MacGillivray Freeman want to capture this. It was a pretty wild shoot - even the cameramen were getting run over by the huge waves.

Q: What do love most about surfing at Maverick's?

A: I'm driven to play in the power of the ocean and there's so much power at Maverick's that it's that much more fun. When you're out there keeping your mind calm in the midst of all this power, you really begin to see your place in this giant ocean. It's truly a test of your conditioning, ability and expertise. It can be very peaceful like a meditation, but there's also risk, excitement and adrenaline boiling in your veins. It gives you a different perspective. Maverick's is also really unique in that you can ride a wave out there for more than a minute. Most big waves in the world you can only ride for 15 seconds if you're lucky, but Maverick's is such a long point, you can ride for a quarter of a mile.

Q: What is the future of wild California?

A: For me, it's about the future of the ocean and the bottom line is we have to stop throwing garbage in it. The ocean shouldn't be off limits to those who respect it, but there has to be a balance. My philosophy is that if you live your life as best and clean as you can everything will be all right.

Check out Jeff's web site at

IMAX® is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.

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