Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Pipeline is undoubtedly the most deadly wave in the world. Hollow and powerful lefts and rights (Backdoor) break just off the beach over a jagged coral reef. Over the years, Pipeline has tragically taken the lives of more spots than anywhere else combined. July 22, 2010 Tahitian surfer Malik Joyeux local body boarder Joshua Nakata March 2008 , renowned water photographer Jon Mozo in February 2005, aspiring Japanese pro surfer Moto Watanabe in January 2004 and experienced Puerto Rican surfer Joaquin Velilla in 2007. The list of casualties goes on. Ironically, the most dangerous days at Pipeline aren’t the biggest, but actually when the swell is picking up quickly and doubling up over the shallow inside section. Despite the well publicized danger, Pipeline remains one of the most crowded and intense line ups in the world. According to pipeline Master Gerry Lopez, ” You’re always right on the edge at Pipeline. You’re always hungry by your fingertips, you never really have it under control.”
Located off the coast of Pebble Beach in Northern California, Ghost Trees is colder and more shark infested (great whites to boot) than most breaks in the world. And in the huge boulders that line the shore and bottom and you’ve got the yourself California’s heaviest wave. Typically a tow in wave, this deadly right hander on December 4, 2007 took the life of Peter Davi. While it takes the swell of mammoth proportions to break when it does, Ghost Trees is only tackled by the most accomplished of big wave surfers.
Located in Half Moon Bay in Northern California is a deadly right hand break imagine howling winds, the air is freezing, water 40 degrees and there is school bus size great white sharks lurking just below the water’s surface is Mavericks. Back in 1994 Mavericks claimed the life of legendary Hawaiian big-wave surfer Mark Foo. The thick lips pitching off the boil are notoriously brutal, which can hold you down and bash you into boulders the size of houses, and even has had its fair share of great white attacks. It gets hollow, it gets edgy, and when people talk about freight trains in the water, this is what they mean.
Regarded as one of the most challenging surf breaks in the world. Teahupoo is located on the southwest tip of Tahiti the main island of the French Polynesian archipelago . The top-heavy left breaks a half mile out to sea and mere feet over a living, razor sharp coral reef. What makes Teahupoo unique is the top-heavy nature of the wave-during a big swell, it looks like the ocean is folding over itself rather than a normal wave.
Teahupoo or Kumbaya as it has been called in the past, has claimed the life of one surfer, Tahitian Breice Taerea, who attempted to duck dive a monster 12 footer only to be sucked back over the falls and onto the reef below. Dubbed “The Heaviest Wave in the World,” Teahupoo lives up to its moniker every time a large southwest swell slams in to Tahiti. Another scary fact: Translated into English, Teahupoo means something along the lines of ” to sever the head,” which goes back to the area’s tribal battles that occurred hundreds of years ago.
The North Shore of Oahu is littered with world-class breaks, and just down the Kamehameha Highway from Pipeline lays the cove that houses the granddaddy of them al: Waimea Bay. While often overlooked nowadays due to the boom in tow-surfers that favor outer reefs, Waimea is still measuring stick for big wave spots worldwide. Packing a life-threatening punch, Waimea Big and Wave Invitational. One of the most respected surf events in the world Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is still held there only when the surf is 25 feet or bigger. With the combination of neck breaking shore break and wave faces that can reach up to sixty feet, Waimea has seen its share of tragedy and claimed the life of Dickie Cross in 1943 and aspiring California pro surfer Donnie Solomon in 1999. Legendary Kauia waterman Titus Kinimaka also had his femur snapped in half after a particularly nasty wipeout back in 1989.
If there is one wave that could possibly mirror the shape of Teahpoo, it would be Shipstern Bluff, located off the south end of the island of Tasmania. Access to “Shippies” is via two-hour hike around Tasman national Park, or long and bumpy boat ride from the nearby harbor. The bottom of Shipstern is a slab of granite that takes the blunt of huge swells traveling from deep water and expounding all their force onto this ledge. It also breaks right in front of a boulder piled headland, adding even more risk to the already impossible drop. Add in fact that you’ll need to be wearing a 4/3 wetsuit and booties almost year round here, and one can easily see why it is only ridden by the most demented chargers.
Located off the South African Coast near Hout bay, cape town, Dungeons not only offers the danger of one of the most harrowing rights in the world, but only a short distance away lies some of the most shark infested waters on the planet. The Northern coastal area of Cape Town happens to be home to Seal Island, a small landmass that houses thousands of seals. Surrounding this tiny habitat of seals are masses of great white sharks waiting for the seals to enter the “death zone, ” which comprises the area around the island. These great whites are also the world-famous ones known to “breach” for their dinner, a phenomena where the sharks slam their prey from underwater and in the process completely emerge from the water, nabbing a bite while airborne. With this heightened risk at Dungeons, also know that it’s got frigid water, gigantic underwater boulders, and hold downs that can be longer than anywhere in the world. Considering it got its name from a local who was held under for two consecutive 25 footers, it’s easy to see why this right-hander has been the site for Red Bulls big event since 2000. Plus it’s only accessible by boat, so you’d better be one of the top ski teams in the world when you head to Dungeons.
Cyclops may be the least surf wave on our list, and there’s good reason for that. Located off the Esperance coast of Australia(seven hours from Perth). Cyclops can only be accessed by boat. Still a fairly new wave on the surfing worlds radar, its got probably the heaviest thickest lips in the world. The depth change is extreme and when the giant swells roll in, they explode all their power onto razor-sharp coral. This causes Cyclops to take the shape of no other in the world, literally engulfing itself. Cyclops derived its name from the oval like barrels that form once the chunky lip hits the reef. But not every wave is perfect here, and most times you’ll see a wave here so deranged that you’ll probably do things other than pee in your pants. Even if you can find the spot, good luck trying to make the drop, and then dealing with the shallow, deadly reef below.
In New South Wales, Australia lies a break so carnal that even Pancho Sullivan was once said to want nothing to do with it. Located in the Kurnell National Park, Ours is a hollow, fast, powerful right-hander that breaks in front of a large cliff face. Even if you make the drop, which you probably won’t, then you’ve got to race through a barrel that wants to tear you limb from limb, and if you don’t make it you get pinned up against that cliff face we mentioned. This is also a favorite spot of the famed Bra Boys, so when they’re out, which is when it’s firing, you don’t want any part of it. If the waves don’t kill you, the locals might.
Compared to the other waves ion this list, New Smyrma is a creampuff in terms of sheer force, even though it does offer some of the best surf in Florida. When there’s swell, this can be one of the top spots in the Sunshine State, but the other side of this is everyone else knows this too. So why is this spot on our list? Well we’ve got 18 reasons why New Smyrma made the cut, and they can all be summed up by one word sharks. Dubbed, “The Shark Attack Capital of the World,” New Smyrma has already seen 18 shark attacks in 2012, and it’s not out of the norm for attacks to occur year round. Located on the South side of the murky waters is some of Ponce Inlet, New Smyrma also has world-class fishing, which means sharks are not far way. And when the majority of the sharks are Bull Sharks, some of the most feared sharks in the world, you are pretty much putting things on the line when you surf New Smyrma.
See you at the beach!
- Surfers battle big waves in Calif. Mavericks contest (cbsnews.com)
- World’s best big wave surfers compete at Mavericks (foxnews.com)
- World’s best big wave surfers compete at Mavericks (standard.net)
- World’s best big wave surfers compete at Mavericks (cnsnews.com)
- “Code Red” Full Movie – Surfing Goes Huge At Teahupoo Tahiti (thesecretkeeper.net)