I admit to an unhealthy fear of the water: the one time I did try swimming (after being pushed into a canal in Venice), I sank like a waterlogged bolt of fine wool gabardine. However, I discovered an utter fascination with surfing (watching, that is) on a long-ago vacation in O'Hawaii. The big wave riders at the North Shore breaks such as Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and the Bonzai Pipeline are amazing athletes in what many professional commentators consider the most dangerous sport on the planet.
Living in Carmel, California, I regularly walk down to the beach and sit for an hour or so to watch the locals rip. But yesterday, I motored up Coastal Route 1 to Half Moon Bay to see this year's Mavericks Surf Contest at Pillar Point. The magnitude of what these intrepid acquamariners face is documented below.