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Discovering Mavericks

By Jon Shafer

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The World Premier of “Discovering Mavericks” - Friday February 1st
7:00 PM at the Prestigious Lobero Theater - SBIFF

January 28, 2013, Santa Barbara, CA...  Discovering Mavericks, an independent feature-length documentary, has been chosen as an official selection at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  The film’s world premier is scheduled for Friday, February 1st at 7:00 pm at the historic Lobero Theater.  Discovering Mavericks is narrated by Dean Winters (OZ, Rescue Me and 30 Rock), who has a gritty delivery that resonates throughout the film.  The narration was recorded on location at Mavericks where Winters wanted to meet the big-wave riders in person.  After spending time with Jeff Clark, actor Dean Winters toured Mavericks by boat, and then recorded the narration on location in the harbor.

Beneath the fog in Half Moon Bay, California, and a mile out to sea, is a wave cresting as high as 50 feet with ridiculously strong currents that pound over dangerous rocks and perilously shallow reefs.  This miracle surfing wave is called “Mavericks.”  Once only known as a myth, one surfer, Jeff Clark, set out to change that and show the world that California had a wave bigger than anyone had ever seen or ridden there before.  One well-known Hawaiian surfer Mark Foo said before his death, “If you want to ride the ultimate wave, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price”.  Foo sadly lost his life at Mavericks in 1994.  With access to over three decades of archive photos and footage from the original photographers and videographers of Mavericks, Pomer exposes the complete truth of Mavericks and the people surrounding it.  The story of Discovering Mavericks is full of triumph but plagued by great danger and loss. The split personality will be explored through footage both new and old, and interviews with some of the truly great men and women who have surfed these dangerous waves.

Successful from his early directorial stages, Pomer’s first international debut, “The Westsiders”, took a raw look into an exclusive group of individuals and told the gritty story behind the rise and fall of the Westside surf gang in Santa Cruz, California.  The acclaimed film won a variety of film festivals, and set a new standard for action sports film making.  Santa Barbara local Sean Maurer, of State and Cabrillo Productions, Cristy Beasley, of S & C Management, and Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark produced “Discovering Mavericks”


Selected Images Courtesy of Josh Pomer










21 Questions about Discovering Mavericks with Director Josh Pomer

1. What is the goal for your film, Discovering Mavericks?

The goal of the film is to tell the true story of Mavericks from the perspective of the legends who lived and died at Mavericks.

2. Can you describe the danger of Mavericks?

Mavericks is one of the most dangerous waves in the world. It a mile out to sea, there is great white shark attacks and underwater hold downs of up to five minutes. Two experienced big wave riders have already died there.

3. How is the the vibe during competitions at Mavericks different compared to others?

You can die on any wave at Mavericks, you just never know when its your time.

4. How does the fog in Half Moon Bay affect competition?

The contest will hold until the fog is burned off.  The fog and weather can make Mavericks seem even more scary.

5. Describe the obstacles of filming at Mavericks?

It’s far from shore so the best angle is from the water.  It’s too big to swim, so the boat perspective is the best overall.  Also great is a helicopter.  In Discovering Mavericks we have every angle.

6. Is there a specific relationship between surfers and cameramen at Mavericks?

We are all good friends. It’s like going to war with the waves so it brings everyone close. You have to watch out for each other.

7. What does the selection process look like when editing the footage as far as best waves?

Picking dramatic waves and wipeouts is easy.  The bigger the better!

8. What’s the best/worst part of filming at Mavericks?

The worst part of filming Mavericks is seeing your friends get held underwater for minutes at a time, hoping they come up.  The best part is being twenty feet away from a fifty foot wave, and capturing it all on film.

9. Have you ever seen/ filmed any women surf Mavericks?

Several women surf Mavericks. I respect anyone who takes that challenge.

10. Can you describe a two wave hold down at Mavericks?

Yes.  Hold your breath for three minutes, and have someone sit on your chest at the same time.

11. Have you ever had to call for a rescue while filming?

Surfers risk their lives ever time they surf Mavericks. I have witnessed many jet ski rescues.

12. Scariest moment while filming at Mavericks?

Seeing Richard Schmidt’s leg almost cut off by his surfboard fin.

13. Have you ever surfed Mavericks yourself?  What does it feel like to drop it on such an intense wave?

I don’t personally surf Mavericks.  I don’t think that I ever will—that is unless I came down with a life-threatening illness. Then, tow me into the biggest wave Mother Nature has to offer!

14. Describe the Great White section of your film.  Any shark stories?

Shark attacks are never fun.  We discuss several attacks in detail.

15. Are athletes using emergency air vests more often?

Today surfers are using new technology to help float better after a wipeout.  They have special wetsuits that will take them back to the surface in less time.

16. Paddle in vs. Tow in?

Paddle surfing is the stuff of legend, while Tow surfing is the stuff of progression.  I love both.

17. What is your distribution plan for the film?

We premier at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  It is a huge honor.  We will see what comes next…

18. What has been the local response in regards to the Hollywood film Chasing Mavericks?

Some people love the film while others hate it.  I am in the middle.  It’s great that they made a Hollywood movie honoring Jay Morarity. He was a good friend of mine, and I miss him.  But his spirit is still with us.  I hope to tell some of his true story in Discovering Mavericks.

19. Did you begin your film before or after the Chasing Mavericks film?

I have been filming Mavericks for 20 years.  When they started filming Chasing Mavericks I was still making The Westsiders.  I hoped to make Discovering Mavericks to tell the rest of the story.

20. What does so much exposure do to a break like this and it’s locals?

It puts the spotlight on one of the most radical experiences in the world.  The surfers are part madmen, part athlete.  It also makes it more dangerous because there are more surfers, and more surfers means more collisions and wipeouts.

21. Can an surfer ever be satisfied by surfing Mavericks just once, or do they just permanently desire one a little bigger than the last?

I think if you catch the wave of your life and live, it’s o.k. to walk away into the sunset.

Director Josh Pomer


Pomer is also involved with helping the Mauli Ola Foundation and a promo spot for the Mauli Ola foundation will play before every screening of Discovering Mavericks. The Mauli Ola Foundation (MOF) began as a group of surfers who banded together to introduce surfing as a natural treatment to people with cystic fibrosis. Since 2007, Mauli Ola has taken nearly 1,300 CF patients surfing at nearly 100 Surf Experience Days and has now expanded it’s reach with hospital visits and other activities that touch the lives of kids with cancer and a variety of other health challenges. In 2010, SURFER Magazine awarded “The Agent of Change Award” to MOF for its positive contributions and example to the surfing community.

Discovering Mavericks is being supported by the following network of websites:


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» wrote on 01.31.13 @ 05:44 AM

Great story and photos Jon.

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