Mavericks big wave safety

REDEMPTION RIDE

Riding for a Cause

Shawn Alladio: PWC Offshore Race Team. 300 mile endurance race, Ironman award

I was invited to Mavericks for an upcoming swell by Jeff Clark. I packed up my boxvan and four RWC’s and headed north.

Jeff Clark had opened the door for the next level of professional big wave surfing. He along with Gary Linden are the two most influential persons in big wave surfing / competitions. Their energies were a flood gate of talent. People from all over the world were planning on surfing this swell. It was right after the 1998 Reef@Todos event at Killers.

L-R: Jonathan Cahill, Kevin Vanderpol, Shawn Alladio and Jeff Clark at Pillar Point

I pulled up at the Mavericks café and was greeted with a lot of love by Jeff and Katherine, many of us had this amazing experience gifted by them. I sat down at a crowded table of strangers and ordered my food.

A man was sitting next to me and I turned to him and I said ‘Hi my name is Shawn who are you?’ He said ‘I am Ken Bradshaw’. I responded back to him, ‘Who is that’? People at the table laughed.

We struck up a conversation while I waited for my food that Katherine prepared for everyone who stepped into her café. When you went there, you knew what to expect and it was usually full of the worlds greatest surfing talent.

This was the second trip taken by Ken Bradshaw to Mavericks. It is now 1998. The last trip, tragically he flew home with his friend Mark Foo’s body back to Hawai’i. Mark had drowned at Mavericks in 1994. They both had flown out together for an epic swell to surf Mavericks for the first time. I was teaching a Rescue Water Craft course to the Newport Beach Lifeguards when the news announced the death of Mark Foo. It was a shock.

They did not get on the plane knowing that only one would return. That is a heavy thought to realize that we may be experiencing our best last moments of life. There is no plan for that. Four years have passed.

Ken was talking with me at Katherine Clark’s café about his last trip at Mavericks, the day his friend Mark died.

This was a sad conversation and it was a private journey as well. He said is was 'hard coming back to Mavericks'. I understand that, as most of us would.

I thought the best action would be to get back into the water and experience a fun day! These kind of moments in our lives are the open doors of healing and a measure of how we face our personal grief. Sometimes there is symbolism in our actions we must face to make peace with the past.

K38 Training at Pillar Point Harbor

I had four WaveRunners, I asked Ken ‘lets go have a fun day, let’s go have some fun’! I said we could ride off to San Francisco and back and race the whole way We could go around the rocks. We could turn off the work, forget about surfing and just have a really fun day. It was cold, and the coffee Katherine made as warm. He agreed enthusiastically and we were planned to head out the next day, I had everything we needed.

The morning arrived, I prepared all our eguipment and we launched at the Pillar Point Harbor boat ramp. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining the winds were down, there was nobody out. The big swell was a few days away.

Also launching was Frank Quirarte who captured the essence of that day in one photo, of me jumping over a wave at Mavericks. This is my soul flying. It was like a metaphor of life and death.

Shawn's 1st Pro Women's race

Well, I didn’t jump the wave as high as I could. This is the same thing that Jonathan Cahill and I did when we faced 7 waves and headed into the face on them on November 21, 2001 on the 100' foot Wednesday. This is what it looked like, but the drop was 50' instead.

K38 at Mavericks

Knowing how to handle the craft in all conditions is an asset. Also being a freestyle professional in jet ski racing and so on I throttled down. I didn't want to damage the boat, so I landed her soft.

My boats perform a lot of different activities. We use them as race boats in sanctioned events, often combat military veterans would race these same boats we use for rescue. We use them for towsurfing, for course marshalling, for fishing, for rescue and loaned them to many a big wave surfer. I never modified my boats, always kept them stock.

Shawn Alladio IJSBA World Finals Ramp Jump Competition Event

My background is in Jet Ski racing. This is where K38 began in 1979 on stand ups. RWC rescue came from the IJSBA course marshal program, the first organized training. We all had the Jet Ski Fever. (We still do!).

All the technical advantages and mindset determination are the genesis of the Rescue Water Craft courses our students enjoy today. We pushed the throttle, we drove distances, saved lives and live the work, either recreationally or professionally. Yes there is a difference between the two.

Shawn Freeride on a Yamaha Super Jet in the surf

We were ready, a safety briefing, PPE check and we were off! I was happy. Ken and I raced up the coast towards Pacifica at full throttle. We raced back down to Mavericks at full throttle. I showed him how to work around the rocks. We rode until the tanks were empty.

The end of the day. Loaded up the boats, cleaned the gear and headed back to the Mavericks Café to enjoy another meal from Katherine. Ken told me that this experience helped him. It was a transitional moment. It was purposeful.

We smiled.

That is what we do with our Never Quit Challenges. We created endurance hardships to serve our soul.

When your friend dies, or loved one or perhaps a stranger; there are a lot memories and thoughts that rewind our lives back to those indelible moments. We dissect everything we could have done better or differently.

I know that when I went to find my sister’s grave in Los Gatos, I faced this redemption. It was the first time I had seen her grave. I was with her when she was dying when a child many years earlier and I lived with the hole in my heart, I was never able to say goodbye. My mother never wanted her surviving children to be sad so we were not allowed at her grave. I did not go there until 45 years later. My friend Denise Smith went with me. She was my witness of the magnitude of the sadness. It took courage for her to be there and stand in my grief with me. It was not a fun day. Thank you Deniece.

If any of my on-water moments at Mavericks were important, it would have been that day spent with Ken. Ken was able to say goodbye to Mark. The empathy and understanding we have for one another is what shine true. It becomes our compass and reminds us who we should be at all times. Passing through those very private and vulnerable sad moments of our lives are open doors of making peace with the mystery of death.

Mark Foo Memorial at Mavericks

I decided to make a memorial to honor Mark's soul. I brought up 4 Pohakus (volcanic rock from Hawai'i). I carved Mark Foo's name on one rock, and set it at Mavericks beach. It stands as a pillar to his memory and that day of redemption. Chris Bertish was with me for the dedication. We called up Tom Pohaku Stone on the phone in Oah'u and he did a dedication ceremony to bless the spot and purify the pohakus.

I was glad to be a part of the soul of Mavericks. Thank you to Jeff Clark for bringing all of us together through a wave called Mavericks.

It is good.

REFERENCE

Ken at Mavericks wearing my Yamaha Floatcoat. Yeah it was cold!

"KEN BRADSHAW: "I've probably put in 10 sessions or so at Maverick's. I've got boards and wetsuits and a place to stay there; I'm always ready. The reason I haven't been back (since '94) is mostly logistics, but sure, after being there the day Mark died, my motivation was stifled. It just didn't seem as important to go there any more. But it's a great wave, definitely worth pursuing. My whole goal at Maverick's is to do tow-ins there on giant days when the wind's a little wrong and there are no surfers in the water. That's what I really want to do."

___________

Posted: December 12, 2020

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

__________

Have any questions? Come train with us and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!

Caution: Visit page terms and conditions. Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.

100 FOOT WAVE

FADING LA NINA

StormSurf.com clinical analysis of Storm #8 of the year 2001

Reference date: November 21, 2001

Storm #8 generated the largest swell on record. Beating out the huge Hawaiian El Nino swell of 1/28/98.

Forecast to be a rather local and moderate storm that was to track over buoy 46006 (SE Papa). Like Storm 1 in 1999, what actually hit was beyond imagination.

Days earlier 2 storms were forecast to move in quick succession into the Gulf of Alaska.

As expected, the first one developed and followed the forecast track. Generating a swell that started to hit the outer SE Papa buoy (46006) on 11/19 at 11 AM with seas in the 20-23 ft @ 17 secs.

This swell reached Mavericks the afternoon of November 20th with seas 13-14 ft @ 14-17 secs with swell 10.5 ft @ 15.5 secs, holding through the night. Nothing noteworthy but defiantly rideable at Mavericks. While the first storm took up residence in the Gulf and slowly faded. A second storm followed quickly in its tracks on November 19th.

It developed a small but relatively intense fetch area in its south quadrant with winds at 55-60 knots blowing due east. Carried by the Jetstream and fueled by the moisture left behind by the first storm. These winds found lots of traction at the ocean’s surface, already agitated from the earlier storm.

K38 at Mavericks

MAVERICKS

The new storm also tracked east at a very fast pace. Not allowing the developing seas to escape the influence of its winds, piling more wave energy on top of an already large swell (virtual fetch).

By the morning of 11/20 winds were still being recorded with speeds at 55-60 knots.

The northern component of the resulting swell hit buoy 46006 at 9 AM and held through 7 PM with seas ranging 38.5-41.9 ft @ 17-20 seconds. Very large but not off the scale.

Clearly, this buoy did not get hit with all the wave energy this storm had produced. With much of it passing south undetected. And buoy 46059 located 350 nautical miles off Pt. Reyes was out of service, it was ripped off the ocean floor from large swell activity. Further reducing the effectiveness of the normal early warning system.

Nearshore the situation got interesting. On the morning of 11/21, the swell from the first storm was still present at buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay) with decoded swell at 12 ft @ 15 secs. As expected, by 10 AM the second swell started to build in with combined seas 16.4 ft and the new swell at 11.1 @ 20 secs and increasing rapidly.

The paddle-in crew was out cautiously catching some bombs as the swell jumped in size with each passing set. The tow teams waited in the channel for their chance to strike. By noon they got their chance as the last paddle surfers were cleaned out and increasing south winds took a toll on conditions.

Combined seas were 19.6 ft @ 20 secs with solid energy out to 25 secs and swell 14.1 ft @ 19 secs.

One hour later swell was up to 14.9 ft @ 19 secs. By now the tow teams were only shoulder hopping the huge sets that were pouring over the reef while south winds set up a strong northerly cross chop.

Even so, Carlos Burle managed to snag the biggest wave of the year, measured at 68 ft on the face.

Shawn working rescue at Mavericks

PEAK

The swell was interacting with the 15 second swell already present, creating huge waves breaking way outside the normal outermost reefs. By 2 PM the new swell was up to 16.3 ft @ 19 seconds, then up to 19.3 ft @ 21 second one hour later.

Shawn Alladio (K38) was out in the channel on a Jet Ski® at Mavericks and reported nearly being taken out by a set of waves. The largest being upwards of 100 ft. Based on the buoys, even larger waves followed after she made it safely to shore.

By 5 PM the largest decoded swell reading hit, with swell at 19.9 ft @ 19.4 secs and combined seas to 23.98 ft.

Whitewater was visible out to the horizon at most coastal locations. And longtime locals reporting breaks they had never seen were going off, but way beyond anything that would be classified as rideable.

Carlos Burle towed into a wave early in the swell of November 21, 2001 at Mavericks. Even larger and meaner waves broke that afternoon, with no one in sight.

Story posted here: http://stormsurf.com/page2/papers/history.html

______________________
Posted: June 23, 2019

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn Alladio is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

__________

Have any questions? Join the Rescue Water Craft Association
and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!
Join the Rescue Water Craft Association

Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.

THE VOICE WITHIN

GUIDANCE

Have you ever had an inner voice that rose up from a shadow area within your mind, and it shocked you during a rescue? You listened to the words presented and took the advice. It worked in your favor.

Do you think about it later and wonder if you are crazy? I have.

I’ve had this voice many times lend outstanding advice in a moment of peril. It is a simple determination of words. Albeit nothing complex or drawn out. It’s an actionable prompt usually.

This parallel voice, is it an echo of the mission or a position of the current experience? Is it an alarm to risk and changing dynamics?

There are things unknown taking place that didn’t happen in training, perhaps this is the inner permission to continue out of the scope of boundary.

It’s not the same thing as everyday thoughts that jump up like kernels of corn popping and then lay down, it is a more prominent alert.

The intuitive voice tends to orient me towards positive actions. Not ones that would cause me harm, although I could see a path to that could be fed for obverse reasons.

It seems as if its an integration of the risk assessment and a knowledge base. And this unconscious unified guide arises to help with a positive orientation. It’s a choice to make, I think.

I have listened to this unconscious awareness that is alerting my conscious behaviors.

I don’t know any other way to address this loud guiding voice.

I have given this a lot of thought and retrospective consideration. Do we call this intuition, gut instinct or a protective angel? I think that there is reason for these descriptions as well.

On November 21, 2001 at a large big wave spot called Mavericks at Princeton California, I had a memorable inner voice experience.

This was one of the largest recorded days of waves that were documented at Mav's. I was there working this historic swell on a Yamaha WaveRunner.

I had 4 of my WaveRunners being used at Mavericks, 1 by Jonathan Cahill, 1 by Paul Schulte and the last one being used by the Brazilian big wave champions Carlos Burle and Eraldo Guieros.

As the swell filled in towards the shelf off the Central California zone, the face of the waves began their temperamental approach. Outstanding big wave surfers from around the world were there proving their talent in this hectic watery plain, this is their rapture.

BLACKHAND

Approximately 1:45pm the wave faces were in stride with 70-foot faces.

The harbor department closed down the jaws of the harbor mouth for recreational boating traffic. I had a final conversations with Cary Smith a harbor deputy and I headed out again.

I got underway again, driving out to conduct another recon parallel to the jetty wall. Then across the channel, out to Mavericks and making calculated triangular search pattern for any mishaps that may have occurred.

I had conducted quite a few rescues this day and I was nearing exhaustion.

As I made another pass outside of the jaws, turning to my starboard quarter, I bounced along the jetty wall towards the inside section of the lagoon behind Sail Rock. I had a very loud and strong voice say to me in my thoughts ‘TURN LEFT NOW’.

This voice was loud. It shocked me. In fact is startled me even physically. I attributed it to fatigue and shrugged it off.

A few seconds later the voice returned “TURN LEFT NOW’.

When I looked down Blackhand Reef, it was angry and boiling.

Truly I didn’t want to go there; I had already experienced a mishap in that area before this day and I was not wanting to risk my Rescue Water Craft.

The voice returned for a third time, and it shook me. I turned left towards Blackhand as if following a command.
The water was rocking and white capping. I was alone and uncomfortable with this decision; nervous I was hoping to turn back.

Right before my decision to retreat a black head popped up. ‘Is that a seal?’ I said to myself. It was a surfer.

He did not have a surfboard. He had a black neoprene hood covering his head, his head was low in the water.

I did our trademark Johnny B and assisted him to slump over the rear seat on the re-boarding platform. I slowly drove out of the threat zone keeping an eye on him. We didn’t talk.

INTUITIVE

I passed the safety of the harbor mouth and headed over to the path that takes surfers to the dirt parking lot. The harbor water surface had a crosshatch texture to its surface from the wind, it stung my face, this cold wind chill. I could feel the cold shrug off as my adrenaline settled.

When I pulled up to the inside of the jetty wall and landed, he climbed off the PWC. He crawled his way out of the water, stood up, waved and at me at started his slow walk back to his vehicle.

He was trapped in his thoughts and my internal dialogue was waking up. We didn’t talk.

I was having a vivid conversation in my mind about this experience as I drove away. I looked back at his shadowy form to affirm he was not an apparition and this was a true experience.

I would never have gone down to Blackhand Reef on that day. Waves were barreling at 30’ all along that edge. I was alone, with no backup.

That voice has visited me often throughout my life. Is this what makes heroes? Is this the evidence of integrating experience with the choice of believing that everything will be okay if there is trust?

That voice saved his life. And mine many times.

I have been fascinated with the internal universe of our mind. As a trainer this is what I have done my best to make friends with to gain understanding of others to become a better instructor. To become a better woman.

I would encourage you to explore the decisions you make. Why do you make them? How have they benefited you and others? Did you clearly see results that stopped a mishap or prevented tragedy? Is it noticeable?

I believe that awareness becomes a part of a purpose driven life. Isn’t that where the essence of ‘a calling’ derives from?

Possible, at least I would like to think so.

______________________
Posted: June 23, 2019

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn Alladio is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

Sidenote: On 11.21.2001 the largest set came through Mav's later on this day. I was on the water with my dear friend Paul Schulte and Jonathan Cahill during that time. Carlos Burle and Eraldo Gueiros surfed the largest wave that year on this day. They won the XXL Big Wave category. The photo is from Pablo, whom has saved my life in many ways. I am indebted to his spirit.

__________

Have any questions? Join the Rescue Water Craft Association
and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!
Join the Rescue Water Craft Association

Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.