Who’s Driving the Ski? This Is Where Big-Wave Rescue Teams Come From
Big waves have a certain mystique to them, at least when viewed from the beach or via the internet. When you get into the thick of things, with tons of water moving around, the mystique can fade pretty quickly. Now add the typical lineup chaos you might experience at a crowded break like Malibu or Pleasure Point, and shit gets downright horrifying.
With more and more people getting into surfing in recent years, surprisingly – or not – there’s also more and more people taking on the waves of Maverick’s, Jaws, and Nazaré. And unlike your local beachbreak, the crowds at big-wave locations can produce some truly life-threatening scenarios. I caught up with several rescue teams to learn about what these storied locations look like from the perspective of the rescuer, and the efforts being made in recent years to manage the crowds of chargers who come to test themselves on some of the biggest and gnarliest waves in the world. I basically wanted to find out where these rescue teams come from and why they do what they do.