The Voodoo Wave - Inside a Season of Triumph and Tumult at Maverick's by Mark Kreidler
|The Voodoo Wave - Inside a Season of Triumph and Tumult at Maverick's by Mark Kreidler|
|Reviewer: Chris Bradshaw|
|Summary: Mark Kreidler investigates the uneasy relationship between big waves and big business at one of the most awesome surf spots in the world.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 243||Date: October 2011|
|Publisher: W.W. Norton|
|External links: Author's website|
Maverick's is one of the biggest, nastiest, jaw droppingly huge waves in the Pacific Ocean and as such has become something of a Mecca for the world's top surfers. Situated off the coast of Northern California its freezing cold conditions make it a far cry from the sun drenched breaks in Hawaii, Mexico and South Africa with the number of surfers adequately qualified (and fearless enough) to take on the cliff like drops probably numbering less than 100.
Would it be possible to judge who was the best surfer at Maverick's though? Long time Maverick's rider Jeff Clark thought so (the break was named after Clark's dog) and went into partnership with serial entrepreneur Keir Braedling to create Maverick's Surf Ventures, a company that would host a big wave competition complete with hefty cash prizes. The creation of the contest and the relationship between the surfer Clark and the businessman Braedling form the centrepiece of The Voodoo Wave.
Almost inevitably the association between a legendary surfer (and a somewhat prickly character) and an entrepreneur looking to build a clothing brand off the back of the contest didn't prove to be entirely straightforward. With a few brief winter months providing the only suitable window for a proper contest scheduling the event proved extremely tricky. It was up to Clark to authorise the contest so if mother nature didn't play ball and the waves weren't suitable then there would be no competition. Of course this made organising sponsors, TV and Internet coverage and just getting the surfers there on time all the more difficult for Braeling.
With conditions eventually right the contest does go ahead, attracting the crème de la crème of the big wave fraternity. Even in seemingly ideal conditions there was plenty of scope for things to go wrong and sure enough, they did, leaving recriminations, arguments about cash and a trail of destruction on and off the break. Could big business co-exist with big waves? On this evidence, it would appear not.
Plenty has been written about the quest for the perfect wave and the almost transcendental state that can be achieved by surfers lucky enough to achieve one. In The Voodoo Wave Mark Kreidler tackles the subject from a different angle though. There are profiles of surfers, descriptions of big breaks and huge wipeouts and the breathtaking power of the ocean and all are done perfectly well. The real heart of the book though is what happens when big business crashes into a sport based on camaraderie, mutual respect and fraternity. Can building a big money event, complete with clothing brands and corporate sponsors co-exist with the supposed spiritual purity embodied by the big wave? It's this contradiction that lies at the heart of The Voodoo Wave. Kreidling's snappy style is ideally suited to the subject matter and his profiles of the main protagonists are spot on. The implicit contradictions between big money and the supposed Corinthian values can be witnessed in many sports. They are all the more acute in surfing though given the almost religious reverence awarded to the ocean. In The Voodoo Wave, Kreidling tells a fine tale of how major wipeouts can occur when unfettered commerce and competition collide.
If the subject of this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Wave: In Pursuit of the Oceans' Greatest Furies by Susan Casey
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