Tragedy turns out more straightforward to digest the additional away it’s previously, however this doesn’t appear to be the case with the drowning demise of browsing legend Mark Foo. Foo died in 1994, greater than 25 years in the past, and the injuries within the browsing neighborhood nonetheless rub uncooked.

Foo’s oft-repeated quote used to be: “To get without equal thrill, it’s important to be prepared to pay without equal worth.” Unfortunately, this is precisely what took place when he died browsing at Mavericks on December 23, 1994. On the time the big-wave spot close to the sleepy California the town of Part Moon Bay used to be moderately new to the broader surf scene, having been ridden in the beginning simplest via native surfer Jeff Clark, then a handful of hellmen from the encompassing central and Northern California surf communities. A couple of well known surfers had died in pursuit in their hobby sooner than, however the relative modest-size of the actual wave that killed Foo (about 15 ft, large enough to freak out maximum surfers, however a medium-small day at Mavericks) and Foo’s explicit wipeout have left lingering questions as as to whether the associated fee he paid used to be commensurate with the “thrill” of that exact trip. Plus, in spite of it taking a look fatal, big-wave browsing hardly killed, let on my own harmed, surfers.


Maximum obituaries are mini-biographies of an individual’s existence, loves, and accomplishments. The various obituaries and articles about Foo – together with one within the nationwide paper of report, The New York Occasions – targeted nearly solely at the approach he died. The surf neighborhood appeared confounded via how an completed surfer may just die on such an underwhelming wave (once more, via Mavericks’ requirements). There have been heated arguments of the protection of surfboard leashes, of the suitability of newly well-liked Mavericks as a surf spot, and of the way nobody within the lineup discovered Foo used to be lacking for just about 90 mins.

Fortunately, the tragedy didn’t appear to degenerate to finger pointing towards any probably the most surfers provide that day, with maximum surfers acknowledging 3 necessary issues: Foo used to be exhausted from an in a single day flight; any fall at Mavericks may also be really extensive; and big-wave browsing would possibly require extra calculated protection measures. The latter has successfully turn into the legacy of that tragic day. Surfers now difficult waves like Mavericks frequently accomplish that simplest whilst dressed in flotation vests, with rescue body of workers aboard PWCs within the lineup and a cautious plan for extraction.

Digging into his existence with extra vigor, Foo used to be nearly universally in style and well-respected, despite the fact that some famous that Foo used to be extra, um, discerning in his heat towards others. He both preferred you or he didn’t and there used to be no in between. As the landlord of probably the most first ad-hoc surf hostels on Oahu’s North Shore, Foo could have merely had much less tolerance for sure houseguests. His space/hostel didn’t earn the nickname “Foo’s Zoo” with out benefit.

Foo’s circle of relatives first moved to Oahu, Hawaii, when he used to be a small kid. It took him a couple of years to be interested in the trap of the sea. By the point he used to be 10, he had realized how one can surf, and he used to be hooked. He moved to the mainland for a couple of teenaged years, then returned to Oahu in time to complete highschool and decide to a existence within the water.

By means of 1977, he used to be competing at the World Skilled Surfers Global Excursion, precursor to the Affiliation of Browsing Pros which has grown into lately’s Global Surf League, despite the fact that he by no means completed the aggressive effects he sought. He stayed with the excursion into the early Nineteen Eighties, when his pastime in large wave browsing outgrew his power to compete.

He settled at the North Shore at Waimea Bay, the place Greg Noll, Buzzy Trent, and the inimitable Eddie Aikau had lower their enamel in large wave browsing. Foo’s side road cred and spirit helped to reinvigorate pastime in Waimea and in large wave browsing total, which had waned within the 80s, as flashy small-wave efficiency took grasp of the browsing zeitgeist. Subsequent, he assorted his browsing resumé. Thru what some claimed used to be relentless self-promotion – genius or shameless – Foo briefly established himself as probably the most distinguished faces of the game. He opened the hostel, introduced contests, narrated motion pictures, or even co-hosted a surf display on tv, known as H20.


Foo’s monetary luck by no means eclipsed his love of the water and his environment friendly, blank taste regularly earned the honour of his friends. Whether or not noble or self-righteous, Foo’s self-marketing equipped him with a comfy sufficient dwelling to commute the sector to surf. For this reason he used to be ready to fly to Mavericks on a second’s understand in December 1994, when phrase unfold that it used to be about to move off. By means of maximum stories, it used to be Foo’s first trip at Mavericks that may end up to be his remaining.

Matt Warshaw, founding father of the Encyclopedia of Browsing, one-time San Francisco browsing stalwart, de facto historian of the game, surfed Mavericks the day Foo died and were his good friend. He wrote the next, years later, of his disgust on the narrative that emerged following Foo’s demise, built via native surfers and those that didn’t perceive Foo’s cautious way.

“Round 12:30, Brock [Little] (the overdue big-wave megastar) and I had been strolling from my automotive alongside the path again to the seashore, to mention good-bye to everyone, when Jeff Clark all at once gave the impression to say that Foo’s frame had simply been pulled out of the water and dropped at the dock. Clark and few others ran towards the harbor. Brock and I stood there at the path, shocked. We determined now not to sign up for the group. Drove as a substitute to a North Seashore bar and began ingesting. Sooner or later I discovered a pay telephone, known as Renneker; everyone used to be putting in the market. This used to be round sundown. Brock and I ended our beers and drove over.

No longer lengthy once we arrived, I started to appreciate that the entire surfers within the room had already shaped the above-mentioned consensus view as to how and why Mark had died. My ideas more or less locked up. Those had been great folks, hardcore surfers, just right guys. By no means as soon as in my 4 years of dwelling in SF had I gotten into an issue with any of them. Moreover, I used to be via a ways the least-experienced Mavs surfer within the room—if truth be told I wasn’t a Mavs surfer in any respect; I’d surfed where simply thrice. In any tournament, I didn’t have the desire or the seniority to release a counterargument. Brock went quiet too. It used to be his first time in San Francisco, and he wasn’t going to combine it up. A snappy go out appeared the most productive plan of action. I stuck Brock’s eye, and we left. The following morning he flew again to Hawaii.

What the ones guys had been doing, actually blaming the sufferer, used to be each self-serving and disrespectful. Completely. And flat-out incorrect, too. Foo used to be a calculating big-wave rider. He stayed inside himself—even that loopy Waimea suckout he went for in ’85, the freefall wipeout that made his big-wave recognition, wasn’t if truth be told all that left-field; there used to be a helicopter status via to select him up.

Foo’s demise used to be a fluke. A deadly piece of unhealthy good fortune. Will have took place to any of the ones guys sitting round pulling on their beers over at Renneker’s. Which if truth be told used to be precisely why they needed to assemble that castle of bullshit. Mavs had simply taken out probably the most international’s easiest big-wave riders. Renneker and Brock excepted, those had been all very new, very provincial big-wave surfers. To just accept the randomness of this terrifying tournament intended including a large number of weight to their barely-tested big-wave dedication—extra weight then any of them had been at that level in a position to endure. Brock had way back made his peace with the mercurial nature of the sport, and knew that Foo’s demise used to be only a snake-eyes roll of the cube; knew if from the instant Jeff Clark delivered the inside track. However those guys had to consider that native wisdom might be worn round them like an invincibility cape. They had been used to be scared shitless, and doing what they needed to do to chill out, regain keep watch over.

My very own anger used to be coming from the similar position, for that topic. I used to be surprised via what took place, and as scared as any one. Extra scared—I by no means surfed Mavs once more. What I hadn’t but achieved used to be really feel any grief. Strolling out of Renneker’s with a head filled with righteous anger allowed me not to take into consideration the truth that my good friend used to be within the Part Moon Bay morgue, about to fly again house in a field. Higher to quietly rage at my pals than to cry.”

Tragedy doesn’t turn into much less serious through the years; it merely turns into more straightforward to put at some stage in a complete existence. Foo himself mentioned, “It isn’t tragic to die doing one thing you’re keen on.” For his friends and family, the way in which he lived his existence will all the time take priority over the way in which he died. His sister used to be quoted within the aforementioned 1994 New York Occasions tale on his demise, “I don’t have any feeling that I will have to have talked him out of going to [Mavericks]. As a result of I settle for him for who he used to be and what he lived for. He used to be now not a thrill seeker basically. He didn’t power rapid, didn’t attempt to climb mountains. Simplest browsing, simplest browsing.”

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