Not Your Grandpa’s Tow Day  - Stab Mag

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Luca Padua still holds the title for youngest person ever to surf Maverick's (age 13). Eight years later, fair to say he's got the spot dialed. Framegrab: Dom Padua

Not Your Grandpa’s Tow Day 

Luca Padua and a black belt tow team take on rugged and unruly Maverick’s.

cinema // Jan 6, 2024
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Maverick’s was loud on December 28. 

Dom Padua’s expertly shot footage intimately captures the speed, the noise and general chaos that comes with a bombing west swell at Maverick’s, especially when a swinger set breaks into the channel and flips a ski (see 13:05 for the details). 

With the buoys peaking at a breezy 24 feet at 20 seconds, just getting to the lineup from Pillar Point Harbor presented a serious challenge. The current negated any thought of paddling. More than a dozen skis dodged whitewater on the way out, and only one boat dared leave its slip to cross Blackhand Reef.

Luca Padua, a 21-year-old El Granada man whose skill set has blossomed under the tutelage of Laird Hamilton, nailed the airdrop of the session while highlining the pocket on his backhand. His tow partner Alo Slebir consistently made 30-foot sections that had the channel in an uproar. 

As is tradition with great Maverick’s surfers from Santa Cruz (see: Condor and Flea), we need to start workshopping an appropriate nickname for Alo Slebir.

The swell was spewing all day for anyone audacious enough to let go of the rope. Peter Mel, Will Skudin, Lucas Chianca, Nic von Rupp, Kai Lenny, Matahi Drollet and Andrew Cotton showed up and strapped up. Jojo Roper somehow found some cover and got spat out with the force of a thousand fire hydrants. Lucas Fink scored bonus points for skimboarding(!) into the bowl. The team from HBO’s 100 Foot Wave also had their lenses out. 

Eric Nelson, an esteemed Maverick’s filmer who has documented the wave for 30+ years under the label Powerlines Productions, told me he’s seen only a handful of days that have been exclusively reserved for towing. And most were back in the late 1990s/early 2000s with Santa Cruz OGs Peter Mel, Ken “Skindog” Collins and Darryl “Flea” Virostko. Thanks to El Niño’s generosity, he’s now added December 28 to the history books.


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