What Can the Founder of Mavericks Surf Contest Teach Us About Risk and Innovation?

“You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.”
—Will Rogers

The Science of Waves . . .and the Ecosystem Surrounding the Reef at Mavericks

Presented by Jeff Clark, Founder/Director, Mavericks Surf Contest

PARC Forum—Risk-Takers Series
Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, California
George E. Pake Auditorium
Thursday, June 4, 2009
4:00-5:00 p.m.
Contact: (650) 812-4000

Giant wave faces. Swirling boils. Explosive speed. Huge peaks that pitch almost straight out. Ever wonder what makes a Mavericks wave—the Mount Everest of surfing—so unique and completely intimidating? Much it has to do with what’s going on underneath the surface.

Mavericks is the world-renowned, big-wave break located 1/2 mile off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California. In 1975, Jeff Clark became the first person to ever surf Mavericks. Until 1990, he surfed there alone. Many believe this 15-year solo effort to be one of the great feats in surfing history. By the early 1990s, word of Jeff’s adventures began to spread. Since then Mavericks has moved into the foreground of big-wave surfing, attracting the most elite riders to test its limits each time it breaks. These riders are presented with waves as high as 50 feet, remarkably strong currents, dangerous rocks, shallow reefs, and frigid water temperatures.

Jeff Clark will talk about his Mavericks experiences, and the collaborative efforts by surfers and scientists to enhance their understanding of Mavericks wave crests, which involves careful tracking of the seafloor imagery of Mavericks, provided by the California Coast State Waters Mapping Project.

Each winter, during a waiting period typically set for sometime between December and March—when conditions are just right, and giant swells roll in from far across the Pacific—the Mavericks Surf Contest comes to Half Moon Bay. It is Jeff Clark who predicts and then calls the contest, bringing in, at two days’ notice, 24 of the world’s best big wave surfers to test themselves against the bone-chilling cold, ever-present dangers, and giant waves of Mavericks.

Jeff Clark, Founder/Director, Mavericks Surf Contest

About Jeff Clark

Labeled one of the “world’s best big-wave riders” by Surfer magazine in 1994, Jeff Clark, along with Mavericks and the Half Moon Bay surf scene, has been featured in such films as Riding Giants and Adventures in Wild California.

The annual Mavericks Surf Contest was founded and is directed by Jeff Clark. The invitational surf contest brings together the best and boldest big wave surfers from all over the world to Half Moon Bay. Clark also runs the Mavericks Surf Shop in the Princeton Harbor neighborhood of Half Moon Bay, not far from the famous break, where he sells his custom-made surfboards, surfing apparel, big wave photos,
posters and more. Jeff Clark is often asked to speak to business groups about risk-taking and innovation.

About PARC (Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, California)

A center for commercial innovation, PARC works closely with clients to discover, test, and deliver new business opportunities, turning ideas into impact. Enterprises and entrepreneurs alike can gain new insights into customer needs, extend technical capabilities, and acquire valuable new technology assets.

Celebrated for innovations such as laser printing, the Ethernet, the graphical user interface, ubiquitous computing, blue lasers, MEMS, and large-area electronics, PARC has invented and contributed technologies that have helped launch more than 30 companies. PARC was founded in 1970, and incorporated in 2002 as a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation. This program is part of PARC Forum’s Thursday afternoon series.

Directions to PARC: http://www.parc.com/directions

More information and previous Forum talks are available online at http://www.parc.com/forum

About PARC Forum: http://www.parc.com/forum

Online Archive: http://www.parc.com/events/forum/archive.php [video + audio of past Forums]

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