If you followed the pounding swell at Half Moon Bay last week, you likely saw repost after repost of charger Francisco Porcella’s now-famous tumble down a toothy Mavericks face. Missed it? Take a look below. It was the fan favorite of another giant day at Mavs, not to mention the most lighthearted buttslide we’ve ever seen down, you know, one of the world’s most dangerous waves:
Mavericks had its way with Porcella earlier that day, too, when he was sucked backward over the falls and stuffed deep underwater. That’s the sequence you see above, caught just in time by photographer Ryan “Chachi” Craig. How did Porcella rebound from one of the day’s heaviest wipeouts to seal one of its best rides? We called Porcella and asked him to describe the turnaround.
First, you have to tell us about the buttslide.
I was out surfing that day for about five or six hours. My feet were getting numb. I'm paddling back out after I put my gloves on, and I see these sets that bowled up deep from underneath you. People weren't getting into them, because it was difficult to full-on commit, so I swung around and straight airdropped into one. As I grabbed rail, I took a little bit of a sideways position, and my fins started to redirect. My back foot slips out, and my front foot slips through, and I thought, Ahhh, no no no, but then I somehow landed perfectly on my board. As I landed, I was on the inside edge of the wave, and I had speed, so I locked it in and decided to ride this thing [Laughs]. It was a perfect scenario from what started as a heavy situation to one of most fun rides ever. No one could believe it – everyone’s hooting, and I'm grinning and pointing as I'm riding down. Sometimes those moments are meant to be. It takes off some of the stress of trying to get the waves, or trying to stick the drops. All of a sudden, it's pure enjoyment of a funny scenario. Damien Hobgood reminded me, too: It was a reminder of why I surf, why surfing is so fun.
So what happened when you went over the falls in that sequence?
Man, that was so heavy [Laughs]. Me and Nathan Florence went for the first wave of the set. I ended up not getting into it, but Nathan went for it, and as he dropped in, he pretty much fell out of the sky, karate-kicking out of it. As I turned around to go back out, the second wave coming was so big. I thought, Oh my god, here we go. I’m paddling for it, scratching, paddling, scratching. And as I tried to punch through the top of lip of the wave, I ditched my board and I popped out on the other side, and the thing sucked me right back down into the lip. I think, Oh no, here we go. It felt like a crazy free-fall, like a cliff dive. From the top of the lip, going down, I felt like I went 30, 40 feet. It was a never-ending drop, like Niagra Falls or something. My ears were just whizzing, about to pop, and then boom, the impact hit me and whipped me around. I pulled my vest because I already knew I was super deep. But as I pulled it, the vest inflated, and I wasn’t really moving. It became super quiet. I could feel my board and my leash pulling me, but nothing was happening. I thought to myself, Oh no, what the hell is going on here? I started trying to swim up, and then the vest whipped me around and came out of the side of my wetsuit. Finally, I popped up, only to feel the next set land on me [Laughs].
It was a scary place to be. It's all about keeping your mental edge. You can't freak out, You know you'll pop up eventually, but you have to fight it a little bit. Never freak out in those situations. Those are the heavy ones. It was a cliff dive from the top of the lip all the way down. It’s definitely one of the biggest waves I've ever gotten sucked over.
But you kept calm and caught the best ride of the day afterward.
I was blessed, for sure [Laughs]. I'm confident the next airdrops I get there, I'm going to stick them right. I've had crazy waves like that at Jaws, but this one was pretty mental. I'm feeling good, though. I'm not discouraged at all. I’m healthy and fit, and I feel like I'm getting to where I want to be: looking for the gnarliest, most critical parts of big waves. If I keep on chasing the biggest swells, it's going to pay off in the long run.