The Man Who Rides Mountains Meets The Men Who Drive Race Cars Braselton, GA - World famous big wave surfer Jeff Clark and American Le Mans Series drivers met for the first time at Clark's Maverick's Surf Shop in Half Moon Bay, Calif., to begin...
The Man Who Rides Mountains Meets The Men Who Drive Race Cars
Braselton, GA - World famous big wave surfer Jeff Clark and American Le Mans Series drivers met for the first time at Clark's Maverick's Surf Shop in Half Moon Bay, Calif., to begin the task of bringing together two extreme sports that on the surface seem to have nothing at all in common.
Maverick's, one of the world's biggest and most dangerous waves, is located one-half-mile off the coast of Half Moon Bay. Created by deep water and a reef that abruptly rises from the ocean floor, Maverick's can create waves that reach heights in excess of 70 feet, waves that only the most daring of individuals try to tame.
Clark was the first of these individuals ever to tackle the huge cold water break. Growing up in the area, Clark would watch the unridden waves just off the coast from atop Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay. For years he and his buddies would only wonder what it would be like to actually ride the monsters that they had watched for so long as the waves were deemed too large and the rocks too dangerous for a person to venture out into. For Clark, staring at the break was not enough and on a cold day in 1975 his need for adrenaline and a thirst for the unknown took over and he suited up for a paddle out into surfing history.
For ALMS Porsche drivers Patrick Long, Johanness van Overbeek and Craig Stanton, the chance to meet Clark and listen to his knowledge of surfing and the ocean was a unique opportunity as they are also surfers in their spare time. The group met at Clark's surf shop for an experience that they would never forget during the week before their 2004 ALMS season closer at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey Calif.
Upon arrival, Clark was immediately on point, describing Maverick's in detail and explaining his unique surfboard designs to the ALMS drivers. All involved were equally impressed with Clark's knowledge of surfing as well as the waves that make the sport possible. Clark went into great detail about his special big-wave board design, which is actually a means of creating suction at the bottom end of the board for greater control on the extremely turbulent big waves that he and others surf every year. After a short hike to the top of Pillar Point to see where the gigantic waves break when the swells come in, it was back to the shop for a few photos as well as some autographed posters for the ALMS drivers.
ALMS Porsche drivers Long, van Overbeek, and Stanton from The Racer's Group, Petersen/White Lightning, and Flying Lizard Porsche teams joined Clark at Laguna Seca to share their extreme profession. Clark was amazed by the raw talent that these individuals possess as well as the fact that many of the skills involved in racing relate to the flow and smoothness needed in order to be a successful surfer.
Clark was in a new environment at Laguna Seca as he traded in his surfboard and wet suit for a helmet and fire suit. Patrick Long and The Racer's Group New Century Mortgage team arranged for a second seat to be bolted into the No. 66 Porsche 911 RSR, one of 25 in the world. For Clark, this would be the rare chance to experience raw speed on concrete in a Porsche with Long at the wheel, the first non-German ever to be selected for the prestigious UPS Porsche Junior team and full time ALMS driver for Porsche.
"The day I spent at Laguna Seca was like spending a day surfing the giant waves at Maverick's," said Clark. "The drivers that pilot these race cars are like the surfers that brave the giant waves here at Half Moon Bay. They are putting it on the edge every time they get in these cars. There is no other place like the edge whether you experience it surfing the big waves or in one of the American Le Mans Series cars. Patrick Long showed me a great time and was very professional. This winter I will hopefully be able to share the same experience with the drivers of the American Le Mans Series here at the Maverick's Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay."
"To actually go out to the cliff with Jeff and have him show us where the huge waves break at Mavericks was amazing, and to listen to the stories that he has to tell is something I'll never forget," commented Long. "We talked about the rhythm and touch that you need to drive a car or ride a big wave, and he was pretty excited that he could sense that rhythm in the car. While I don't know that I'll ever ride an 60 foot wave, I was glad to give him the chance to ride in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR."
"Jeff is a real hero. He is like the [Ayrton] Senna of the surfing world. I have known about Jeff for a long time," said Stanton. "Even down in Southern California he is considered in a league of his own. For years I would read in the surfing magazines about Jeff and a 'secret spot' where he would get these huge waves. Turned out later that it was Maverick's but no one knew that then. It was great to meet him and exchange a little glimpse into what each other do. Turns out he used to blast around Half Moon Bay in his parent's Porsche 914 so it goes to prove that there isn't much difference between racers and surfers. He is a great guy and getting to meet a legend like Jeff was something that I'll always remember and I want to thank him for taking the time to hang with some race car drivers and sometime surfers."
Although ALMS sports car racing and big wave surfing are two very different sports, they require many of the same skills such as speed, control, and flow to be successful. The ability to dance the cars through the turns and down the straight-aways while maintaining speed and control is a skill that many try to attain, but few possess. Challenging one of mother nature's most awesome forces takes the same amount of commitment and skill as ALMS racing so it is only natural that a big wave surfer like Clark would have an extreme interest in the series as well as the intense experience of being at an ALMS race.