Why do I like books about surfing? I don’t know…I really don’t. But there seems to be something about them that just pulls me in. In 2010, I thought The Wave by Susan Casey was the best book I read all year (here’s what I really thought).
And here I am again, finding myself inexplicably pulled into the barrel of another beauty (see what I did there…ok, just checking). Cortes Bank is a shallow reef due west of San Diego, CA, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Because it is so shallow and because there is nothing to dissipate the energy of the waves, Cortes Bank is home to what is arguably the world’s largest rideable wave. (Check out a great video here).
The first part of the book is a little slow. Dixon digs up info on everyone who ever saw the Cortes Bank and it can get a tad tedious (unless you’re really interested in a shipwreck or how to build your own nation). However, once the surfing starts, you won’t want to put the book down. First we watch as Mike Parsons sets the world record for surfing an estimated 66′ monster his first time out at Cortes. Then we meet Greg Long, who some have named the heir apparent to Hamilton’s wave riding throne. If someone is going to surf a 100′+ wave someday, Long is going to be on the short list of men who will try.
Surfing is such a transient sport. No two waves are alike, which makes each big ride more exciting than the last. It also makes finding big swells challenging. And if you do find them, will the weather be good enough to ride? Big wave riders dedicate their lives to mastering giant waves and doing what they love.
I love big surf books. Big waves, no matter how beautiful terrify me, but give me a book about big waves, and I’m happy as a clam. (Pun intended?)
Look out 2012 – we just started the year and already I’ve a got a contender for best book.