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Maverick's 2013

One person's insignificant perspective.

I've covered the last 5 Maverick's big wave surf events, held over the past 8 years. The NorCal photogs I'm sure aren't happy about having any SoCal photogs up there, much less me. But I never shoot Mav's, except for this one event each year, and I've covered it for longer than most. So I have no reservations about being there.

This year, regardless of what people may say, the surf was more than contestable when it came in. And for Pete Mel, winning a Mav's event was inevitable, and long overdue. In the past he's gone down way too early. I messaged him before the event saying he was going to win it, and Newport was going to claim him. But let's be serious, he's from Santa Cruz through and through.

The cliffs at the event this year were closed due to rocks falling on, and injuring a woman and her child a few years ago. And then the scaffolding collapsed and injured people during the last event. So nobody was getting out there to watch the contest as far as the police were concerned. Unless of coarse you were super stealth like Daniel Shea. In place of the cliff viewing they had a Surf Festival. It had a skate ramp, a trinitron to sit and watch the action on, and listen to live interviews. And it had a food court and a beer garden. It was only $10.00 and my wife went and enjoyed it. The highlight of it according to her was all the GoPro footage from the competitors board's that they had on the Festival's telecast.

From a photog point of view. The event was a absolute mess! There was no media boat, skis weren't allowed, and if you did get out there on a boat you had to jump into this Coast Guard supervised parade of vessels that just kept circling the channel. It was ridiculous. So bad in fact that the local AP photogs that usually nail insane images for the NorCal newspapers, had no good images of Pete for their publications, and instead ran a photo of Greg Long on the front page of their papers the next morning. There was also a rumor that NorCal photogs did what they could to make it difficult for outside photogs to get spots on boats. True or not, if you looked around you could find a way. But it was tough..

The biggest instigator of this years overall excitement about the event was undoubtedly the movie "Chasing Mavericks". I met a couple from Chicago who saw the movie and flew out just so they could be close to the action. And I talked to a girl from Kansas that saw the movie and flew out the night before the event, when she found out she could get a spot on a spectator boat. The hype for this year's event was in overdrive. Blame it on Hollywood.

Overall the contest was a success. The weather was perfect. There was swell. One of Maverick's favorite son's walked away with the title. And Jeff Clark rightly remains the Golden Boy of Maverick's in the media's eye. Can't wait for next year..

This is big wave photographer Rob Brown's boat. I have enormous respect for Rob, and what he has done for covering and pushing big wave surfing, and for the images he captures. But I also don't mind admitting that I cringe when I roll up to a spot and see his big shiny boat. I call his vessel "Planet Hollywood". Because it's always packed with all the big wave A list surf stars.


Maverick's. Peter Mel. 2010

Photo Copyright Cozad



Go Long...

Greg Long here is synonymous with big surf. In 2005, when this shot was taken, he was just starting to make a name for himself in the surf media. It was during those first few years too that we kept ending up at the same place and nailing a really good image that would often represent a swell. Todos, Mav's, Salsy, without knowing each other we kept showing up at the exact same time. The photos of those sessions went to a lot of different places, and they really helped me to break out of my "he only shoots Newport" mold.

One very late afternoon we both arrived back to the dock from Todos around the same time, and walked over to each other laughing. We were finally on dry land together and actually meeting face to face. I found Greg to be extremely friendly, really humble and very, very intelligent.

Greg's been up at Mav's all winter filming the movie on Jay Moriarity, "Of Men and Mavericks,” which is set to be released this October. And like everything he does, I'm sure it will be a success.


Mark, Sunday. Maverick's.

Photo Copyright Cozad


Mel Won! And seeing that he lives in Newport.. We are claiming him!

So... Newport's Peter Mel, yesterday at Mav's. Ha!


Check back here for a few overexposed, out of focus images from this weekends Maverick's event....

Photo Copyright T. Cozad



Corky Crandal was born and raised in Newport, and has been chasing big surf all over the planet for decades.

And he's got waverunners sitting near big wave surf spots people have never heard of.

Corky's son Clay has followed in his footsteps, charging big surf.

Check out this week's OC Weekly of a couple of photos I shot of the Crandals, along with a story by Newport's

Chasen Marshall. And click the photo below for a 3 minute video of Clay showing how versatile he is in the water.

Clay's currently looking for a sponsor.


Wed., Feb. 9th, 2011

Never leave early!!

Last month I headed south for a big weekend swell with my camera gear, boards and waverunner.

Unfortunately I spent the entire first day of the swell sitting in the middle of the ocean in fog. When I came in at dark I was over it. I was cold, tired,

and just wanted to head home and see my family, the sun and some fun surf. But as I bailed on everyone that night,

I knew there was a small chance I was blowing it by leaving. And of coarse I was. The next morning was epic! Damn...

Click the image below to see a pictorial of that day's epic surf, by Art Brewer.

Brain Conley and fog... Not epic.



During last week's giant swell I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to cover the Todos Big Wave Surfing Contest. But for reasons I'm still not clear on, the contest was canceled, for the entire season I'm told. So I switched gears and invited Bobby Okvist to head to Todos, knowing he would appreciate some legitimate XXL big wave experience. And outside of getting rear ended while crossing into Baja, my ski overheating and shutting down near the impact zone, and having to go through secondary search coming and going through the Border, the trip was smooth sailing. A huge thanks to Surfline forecaster Kevin Wallis for all the great Intel, and Corky and Clay Crandal for always helping me out, and showing Bobby what he's really in for.

Click the image below for a short Baja slideshow...

The board is 9'2". You do the math. Bob O., Todos.


Scott Chandler riding high... Todos.


The Pro and the Amateur

One thing NewportSurfShots.com hopes to focus in on this winter is shooting giant swells at various offshore California reefs during the big wave season. However I have yet to find the 4 seater waverunner I'm looking for in which to shoot from. So as it stands now...

This is surf photographer Rob Brown's brand new big wave surf photography rig for the big surf season...

A 36' pilot console that is 11'10" wide. Powered by twin Super Charged Mercury 275 Verado outboard's Boat. It can be trailered wherever it needs to go and is permitted by Cal Trans for wide load. The boat is an all weather support vehicle with FLIR (forward looking infra red) as well as 72 mile Raymarine radar for night use. Hull holds 340 gallons of fuel and has an approximate range of 600 miles. AND...

...this is NewportSurfShots.com's current surf photography rig for the big wave surf season...

6'11 Sakal that is 20" wide, with curved fins, and a 3 pound wicker basket for carrying precision waterhoused camera equipment. The vessel is a Polyurethane Foam, 4 oz fiberglass, all weather vehicle, and has an approximate range of 10 miles, or until your arms give out.


Tuesday, Feb. 16th, 2010

Click the image below to see a video of what occurred the day of the Maverick's Surf Contest when a wave doubled up on the inside, and broke over a seawall, injuring nearly a dozen people. Newport Photog Dave Manning was on the beach when it occurred, and says the wave resulted in pretty severe injuries, and lots of destroyed equipment.

It's no fun getting rescued, when you fall off your ski, and dunk your gear in the ocean...


Time's Up for 2008

The waiting period for the Maverick's Big Wave surf event ends today. And while many people could care less about the event, it does tell you one thing. That this winter, as far as big surf is concerned, was a bust.

During this year's 3 month contest waiting period, someone stepped in and raised the total prize purse to $100.000. You can image how eager all the big wave crews were to have a go at that kind of money. It's to bad the ocean did not deliver.

Two years ago, the contest was also a no go due to lack of giant swell, and the contestants asked for the prize money to be rolled over to the following year. But it never happened. Hopefully next year the ocean can deliver.

Jamie Sterling, money or no money, he's going... @ Mavericks

Large Wednesday

Skip S., off the bottom of an outside wave at "The Point"... Somewhere in Baja

As we motored away from this surf spot in Northern Baja we knew we had scored. The Tow team I was with had surfed this wave from far up the point, through the inside section of paddle in surfers (pictured below), and all the way to channel. A wave that started at 20ft, and 1000 yards latter ended at head high. After experiencing this wave the four of us on the boat agreed that we would tell nobody about it. By the time we'd arrived back at the Baja dock, the word was already out however. People on the cliff, on the beach, and in the line-up of this spot were already talking about how epic it had been, how there was a tow team charging it from far outside, how a top pro was tearing apart the inside, and how there was a camera shooting it from a boat. If word about this wave had not gotten out, and if videos of the session had not surfaced, the photos of this surf spot would have quietly been put away.

Perfect Baja

We'd dropped anchor out the back of this wave on "Large Wednesday" so I'd have a good line-up with the tow in crew I was shooting on the outside. After a while however the anchor drug and the boat began drifting farther and farther inside. No problem, just move the boat. But when I turned the key... nothing happened. Newport's Nigel K., who was also on the boat and had just come in from paddling this wave, attempted to start the engine, still nothing happened... We tried to wave down the boat's owner who was a mile outside with his tow partner waiting for another monster set to tow into. No good, he didn't see or hear us.. So Nigel started the long paddle out to get him.
There I sat drifting further and further to the inside where I was getting a better and better view of guys paddling into and charging this inside section, but also where the boat and I were becoming more and more at risk of getting picked off by a set that swung wide and riffled down the reef. This photo was shot with one eye looking through the viewfinder, and the other eye scanning the horizon for a clean up set that would swamp the boat.

"Smaller Thursday"

Before dawn the next morning we headed with everyone else to Todos again, only to veer off at the last minute at top speed so we could lose any tow teams that might try and follow us in the dark all the way back to this spot. Arriving at sunrise we got a glimpse of it. While the swell was still a good 15ft on the buoys, this particular wave was now weak, and nothing like it was the day before. Which demonstrates just how big of a swell you need for this Baja point to do it's thing.... Moral of the story. Don't look for this wave to break like this again until another "swell of the decade" rears it head.

Sunrise over Ensenada...South of the Border

San Diego big wave charger Scott Chandler... charging big waves at Todos.

(Photo Copyright T. Cozad)

Tackling some really solid winter surf...

(Photo Copyright, Tom Cozad)


Another epic wave that day... Somewhere in Newport

(Above photo copyright Tom Cozad)


Maverick's 2006


The Perils of New Equipment

A surfing magazine photo editor recently told me that if I wanted to start producing professional photos, I needed to get professional photo equipment. I've been getting away shooting with pretty nominal cameras over the last few years, and am used to being one the few people that doesn't shoot major surf events with a state of the art camera.

So a few days before the Maverick's Surf Contest was set to go, I threw in the towel, and bought Canon's top-of-the-line camera, a Mark II N . And then shot with it off the 32nd st. jetty, in the fog and haze, trying to figure it out.

Two days later I'm heading out of Half Moon Bay Harbor excited to put my new camera to work at the 2006 Maverick's Surf Contest. For once I've got photo equipment that equals professional photographers I thought. As we pull up to the break I flip the switch of the camera on, but nothing happens. I change the batteries, and nothing happens. I borrow an extra battery unit from someone on the boat, still nothing happens. The fricken thing is dead!

In a state of panic I grab my old back up camera and start shooting with it... and in between heats I, as well as those around me, try to get it to turn on. It's then that I realize the extra batteries for the back up camera aren't in my bag, but up with Kiefer on the cliff. This is not good. Now I'm pissed, and begin hitting the new camera against the side of the boat, hoping it might jar something and turn on. The violent impacts cause a large piece to fall out of the front of the camera, and it comes on. Nobody could identify what it was exactly that fell out of the camera, but it now seemed to be taking ok pictures.

The only thing was the light meter wasn't working, so I shot with it on manual, and guessed on the exposures all day. That night as the editor of Surfline and I were about to look at photos of the day, I was praying they would be properly exposed and in focus. Luckily they were.

After spending the last 2 weeks at the Canon Factor the camera is now back in my hands. And for local surfers that means this site will be capable of producing much better quality images. And if anyone that works for Canon is reading this... um, the part about me hitting the camera against the side of the boat, I'm pretty sure that's not allowed under the warranty, so I was only kidding.

"Twiggy", the clear winner... @ The 2006 Maverick's Surf Contest

Brad Gerlach won $68,000 at the Billabong XXL awards for his wave at Todos last December. Rob Brown won $5,000 for the photo. For photos of the awards click below

XXL Awards

Who the heck would cut back at big Todos? Gerlach would... @ Todos...

(Photo Copyright Tom Cozad)


Todos and the Billabong XXL

Word was that "Large Wednesday", December 21st. 2005 was going to be really large! I'd heard that a trip to Cortez was being planned, and figured big wave surf photographer Rob Brown would be leading the brigade, so I quietly planned to sneak off to shoot Todos. Now I'd never met Rob before, and while I'd heard he was a nice enough guy and all, I was hoping to be shooting no where near him during this swell. There's just no way I can out shoot him. He's got the boat, the equipment, the experience to put himself in the right place to get the shot, and he's one hell of a great photographer. And me, well I've shot big Blackies from a ladder before...
When I pulled up to the Baja Marina at midnight, bubbling over with excitement about the thoughts of Todos the next morning, my heart sank. Sitting out in front of the hotel, on a giant trailer, was Rob's double hull, twin Yamaha engine powered ocean vessel, with a big shiny jet ski sitting on the back.

Suddenly my plans of trying to meet up early the next morning with a guy named Corky, who I'd never met before, and pleading to him my case of giving me and my camera gear a ride out to Todos, didn't seem so special anymore.

It seems Rob had information from a plane flying over Cortez the night before that it was wind blown, and his photo mission to Cotez was scrubbed, and rerouted to Todos. When I met the legendary lensmen the next morning, all I could think of saying was, "I'll try and stay out of your way out there Mr. Brown sir". Next winter I hope to be shooting from my own waverunner, and while its nothing like Mr. Browns rig, it's a start I guess. Look for a photo by Rob Brown of Brad Gerlach from late that day at Todos to win the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards this Friday night. They deserve it!

Brain Conley on a monster @ Todos

(Copyright Tom Cozad 2005)


Before the final of the Maverick's Contest this year, they took a 30 minute break so the guys from the last semifinal could rest up. With photogs and news crews in the water, in the air, and on the cliff, it gave the crew of big wave chargers not in the contest (like the guy below) an opportunity to paddle into some bombs and show their stuff.

No guts, No glory.... @ Maverick's




Jaws in Maui didn't really do it's thing this year, but the West Coast of California sure did. I had the opportunity to shoot a few big wave spots this winter, and tried to educate myself on their line-ups, their crews and where to launch a water craft from in the future. Below are 2 of the largest waves that NewportSurfShots.com captured this winter.

On December 21st, San Diego's Scott Chandler was towed into one of the biggest sets of the morning at Todos. He made it to the bottom, somehow squeaked around the gigantic mountain of foam... and lived to tell about it. Chandler is a fearless diehard Todos local who lives for days like this. And while he didn't make it into the XXL this year, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that one day he will.

Kiefer is a humble and intellegent 16 year old. And when you put a camera in his hands, he will get the shot every time. Keifer was busy getting in position up on the cliff just before the start of the 2006 Maverick's Contest, when this set came in. In typical Kiefer fashion he spun around and perfectly captured this guy dropping into one of the biggest paddle in waves of the winter season.


The Maverick's Contest 2004-05

When I got the call Tues. morning that the Maverick's contest was on I was skeptical. The buoys didn't look that impressive, the swell forecast for the area was only 12-15ft, and the weather looked like it might not cooperate. The contest had gotten television rights lined up, had clothing appeal printed, and had spent money on publicity. My worry was that they were now trying to squeeze the contest in before the March 31st deadline, regardless of how good the surf was. Turning my life upside down to attend the event and then getting skunked was not something I wanted any part of, or I could afford to do. I then found out that Mr. Maverick's himself Jeff Clark was the one that called for the contest to go Wednesday morning. Figuring he was loyal to holding the event in only extreme sized surf, and that he could predict the conditions better than anybody else on the planet, I loaded up and headed north.

Nine hours into my drive it began pelting rain, and my doubts about the contest resurfaced. When I pulled up at the dock at 2am, the howling onshore winds and torrential rain intensified my worries. Would the surf be blown out? Would the waves be riddable? How long would my camera equipment hold up in the rain before it crapped out? Would the back up equipment I borrowed getting ruined? Was the contest canceled, and I not notified? It was too quiet on the dock and in town, and as I dosed off for a few hours of sleep I felt I might have made a mistake disrupting mine, my family's and my co-workers lives, who had all changed their schedules so I could attend the event.

The next morning I awoke to the bluest skies one could imagine, and when I stepped outside I was in awe by the calm wind and sheet glass Pacific Ocean. Once on the dock everyone was asking the same question, "what was the surf like"? Yet no one seemed to have an answer. When we rounded the bell buoy the back of the break came into view and you could feel and hear the power of the wave. As we motored towards the inside we got our first glimps of the day's surf. A 20 foot piece of smooth round ocean threw itself towards shore, and a lone surfer free fell to the bottom, landing head first on impact! The contest was on and the surf , lighting, and weather conditions were epic! Moments later Jeff Clark casusally motored by on his waverunner, and I couldn't help calling out and giving him a thumbs up. The guy pulled it off. He foretold to the surfing world that the waves at his beloved break would come up, the skies would part, and the wind would calm... and he was right!

Jeff Clark all smiles.

Shane Desmond's Big wave = Big Money..... @ Maverick's

(Photos Copyrighted NewportSurfShots.com)




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