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Thanks El Nino

Trevor Rowedder big wave surfing
As we wave goodbye to winter and begin to greet spring, we thought it the perfect opportunity to look back at the 2015/2016 winter season. We connected with Trevor Rowedder, an up-and-coming big wave surfer who surfs right at the end of Noriega Street by Indosole HQ/ Church of Surf. He had a killer season at Mavericks and experienced a massive wipeout that definitely put things into perspective. More on that in our Q & A below:

How long have you been surfing Mavericks?
This winter of 2015/2106 was my second season out at Mavericks. I wanted to dedicate this winter to putting in as much time out there as possible, and gain as much experience as I could.

What's the most intimidating thing about Mavs?
Mavs is scary for so many different reasons. The wave itself is really much more hollow than I think anyone realizes, especially if they haven't seen it in person. For me, though, on a good big day out there the crowd is the most intimidating. At 20 years old I’m sitting next to guys that I had posters of hanging on my wall as a kid. On top of that you’re jockeying to be in right spot to catch a wave. There are so many guys willing to send it on the biggest waves of the day. You have to really want it.

Could you explain the feeling of big wave surfing for someone who's never done it before?
There’s more to it than putting your head down and paddling into a big wave. You have a community of guys out there that all share a passion for the ocean and surfing. Everyone watches out for each other in the water. Even though guys are charging harder than ever before, it’s important that everyone gets to go home at the end of the day and I think that’s the attitude out there.

How was the El Nino experience?
It’s been a marathon. Waxing up a 9’6 gun multiple times a month for 4 months in a row is something that doesn’t happen very often. I still get butterflies every time; it’s impossible to get jaded when it comes to surfing Mavericks. Guys made their careers in big wave surfing the last time an El Nino happened, so I wanted to try and capitalize on every session I could.

How do you handle wipeouts? How does it affect your outlook on life?
I took a pretty brutal wipeout at Mavs and I’m just starting to feel 100% healthy again. I turned on what I thought was a really good wave--having caught a steep one about an hour earlier my confidence was high. It also happened to be right around lunchtime and I had already been in the water for 3 hours so I really wanted to get to the channel to recharge with some food. When I turned around for it I took a couple hard strokes just to take a sniff at it. I heard some of the boys call out for me to go from the shoulder, so I put my head down and paddled as hard as I could. The offshore winds were stiff and I was totally blinded by the spray as I jumped up. Soon as my feet hit the wax I felt the wind under me, by the time I could actually see, my board had turned into an airplane wing and sailed me out into mid-air.

When I reconnected with the face of the wave my board just stopped and I flew forward slapping the water, which felt like concrete. I actually bruised my kidney pretty bad. I went weightless for what felt like forever, and got sucked over the falls. The impact was so violent it almost knocked all the wind out of me. I struggled to even be able to pull in either of my arms close enough to my body to inflate my vest while being rag dolled. Eventually I was able to pull one of the chords, but still ended up being held under for two whole waves. Vest fully inflated. I came up pretty disoriented with a grade 2 concussion, and I am so thankful for the guys on the skis out there. They put themselves at risk just make sure we’re safe. I got picked up just seconds before the third wave.

You have to prepare yourself mentally for the possibility of that happening, but when it does it's pretty terrifying. When something like that happens you look at day-to-day life a little differently. No decision I make on a normal day at school or work is going to be life or death. It puts a lot of things in perspective.

Click here for a taste of Trevor's season at Mavs: https://vimeo.com/156797641



Video: Powerlines Production. Photos: Dave Nelson, Pedro Bala.

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1 comment


  • i’m proud of you Trev!! I’m glad that I’m seeing lot of great things in your life!! I’m thankful for part of my life oxox your best friend Brittany

    Brittany Barry on

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