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10 Must-See Waves From A Historic Day At Maverick's

Drone angles from some of the biggest, heaviest waves to hit California this decade.
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In what’s being considered one of the biggest swells to hit Maverick’s in Northern California this decade, December 28, 2023, was as raw, powerful and challenging as it gets in the world of big-wave surfing. With an extreme westerly swell hitting the buoys at an eye-popping 24 feet at 20 seconds, it was one of those swells that only comes around every five to ten years. And while the conditions fluctuated throughout the day, there were moments of heroism that stood out.

We’ve already broken down the wave that 54-year-old Maverick’s icon Peter Mel caught, but there certainly were others. Cinematographer Tucker Wooding was on hand for the swell event, and armed with his drone, captured some of the more jaw-dropping moments throughout the day. 

Leveraging his bird’s eye view, we see England’s Andrew Cotton running with the devil before the gates of hell come crashing down on him. The East Coast’s Will Skudin and barrier destroyer Bianca Valenti also took their lickings. Local boys and tow partners Luca Padua and Alo Slebir had better luck, while Kai Lenny got cute and was popping ollies on the end bowl. 

There’s even a wave of Lucas Fink who, for whatever reason, decided to ride Maverick’s on a skimboard. But the one that stands tallest among Wooding’s top ten compilation is San Diego’s Jojo Roper’s beast. If the guy wasn’t built like He-Man he probably doesn’t make it, but by sheer strength and force of will he makes it look like just another day in paradise.

The much hyped El Niño surf season has kicked in as the December 28 swell was the first of a number of swells stacking up for Hawaii and the West Coast. As we hit publish on this piece Maverick’s already big and terrifying once again. Stay tuned.