I’ve lived in Southern California since high school and never heard about this mythical surf spot at Cortes Bank, about one hundred miles west of San Diego.
We’ve all heard of the giant waves at Mavericks in Northern California which sadly claimed the life of Mark Foo in 1994, but this location was brand new to me — not that I’ll ever see it or surf there, considering I don’t surf at all, but I love all things ocean-related.
Apparently, about ten thousand years ago, an island used to exist in that spot called Kinkipar by native Americans, the ancestors of the Tongva or Chumash Tribes.
Presently, it’s entirely submerged, the top rising to within three to six feet of the surface with nearby shoals catching the largest swells on the planet from the North Pacific.
Monster swells that generate waves moving at incredibly high speeds as they move from the deep ocean, over a mile deep at the base of the bank, into a series of shallow reefs made of sandstone and volcanic basalt.
These photos of Nic von Rupp (amazing professional big wave surfer) were taken last week at Cortes Bank.
Because of its location, estimates are that the waves move fifty percent faster than comparable waves along Oahu’s north shore.
They are arguably the largest and fastest waves on Earth. As Bill Sharp remarked after the first time it was surfed in 1990 “It was like something out of Waterworld.”
From Nic von Rupp’s Facebook page; photo credit to @sharpxxl & @100footwave @mcnamara_s @mamaunearthed @joelewis @vincentkardasik,