Good Will Hunting

North Carolina 16 year-old Chases Big Wave Dreams

It was bound to happen. The virtual barrage of big wave coverage focusing on Maverick’s has inspired more than just lunatic Santa Cruz and Brazilian surfers. Four years ago, in far off North Carolina, a 12-year-old Will Skudin became obsessed with the growing big-wave scene, and the dream of being the youngest surfer ever to ride Mavericks. But unlike your average magazine fan, Skudin dreamed big.

Three years later, at the ripe age of 15, Skudin requested dream support from his parents.

“They told me, ‘If you train hard, study, find out what these guys do, and follow the proper steps, we will take you wherever you need to go,'” the Outer Banks teenager explains.

And his supportive folks weren’t kidding. Young Skudin trained. He carried weights under water. He swam. When a swell would hit his homebreak, he’d purposefully put himself in harm’s way. Good to his word, in the spring of 2001 Will’s dad Tom flew them both to Peru, for some serious off-season training at the famed big-wave break Pico Alto.

By January 2002, the Skudins were motoring out to Maverick’s lineup, dreams in hand.

“It was shocking,” says Skudin. ” I was scared-but not like I couldn’t do it. Just butterflies. Scared and stoked at the same time. But I was prepared.”

Or so he thought. Skudin paddled out and sat deep until a big set appeared on the horizon. Attempting to push through a massive lip Skudin was sucked over the falls backwards, the vicious Maverick’s spin cycle sweeping Skudin and his demolished board into the notorious rocks.