Full Spoon

Jeff Clark: The Pioneer

Jeff Clark, image from Outside Magazine May 1995, "Mark Foo's Last Ride." Photo credit: David Martinez

Jeff Clark is best known in the Big Wave arena for introducing Mavericks to the world. He began surfing the local beach breaks of Half Moon Bay in the 1960s during a major period of innovation. Longboards were being replaced by short-boards and new ideas like twin fins were being embraced and applied. Jeff was at the forefront of this innovation in Northern California, shaping his first board at age 13. A natural athlete, he excelled at football and baseball, but was always drawn to the ocean and water sports, particularly surfing. His passion for the sport and his ability escalated as as a teen, pushing him to challenge more powerful waves up and down the coast of Northern California. Soon he craved bigger and bigger waves and began his relentless pursuit of big wave surfing.

Jeff was inspired by the best surfers of this era: Jock Southerland of Hawaii, and Dick Keating of California. He borrowed Jock’s ability to ride switch foot on waves and is now considered one of the best switch footers in surfing. As a regular competitor in Northern California contests, Jeff won his first at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz in 1979 and continued to win contests sponsored by the Christian Surfing Association for years. Twenty years later, in 2001, he surfed to a seventh place finish at the prestigious World Cup of Tow Surfing at Pe'ahi, Maui (also known as Jaws). He has been featured in many surf videos and movies including Riding Giants, Step Into Liquid, Discovering Mavericks Grant Washburn's film, the Mavericks documentary.

What sets Jeff apart is his application of innovative solutions to real world hurdles, such as the massive waves he has ridden for the past 41 years. His talents in this area are showcased in a wide variety of film footage where he is RIDING SWITCH FOOT FRONTSIDE on the massive lefts and rights at Mavericks.

Jeff has maintained the spirit of innovation throughout his board building, shaping, and surf innovation career. As a third generation carpenter, he has a hands on approach to creating the tools to ride huge waves well as well as an understanding of structural engineering to make sure they don’t break. His applied knowledge of hydrodynamics, fluid mechanics, and structural engineering has been well tested in his big wave ocean laboratory. Some of his designs include a big wave inflatable vest that works well at the gnarliest big wave locations in the world. He changed big wave surfing by introducing the first four fin guns and riding them at Mavericks. The design worked so well that others immediately followed, and four fins is now the standard for giant waves everywhere in the world. His Stand-Up Paddle designs incorporate Jeff’s countless innovations to make them faster and surf better than other performance SUPs. Quite simply, his designs and boards are for those who demand high performance in critical situations as well as pure stoke in anything from flat-water racing, downwinders, two-foot surf all the way to screaming barrels.

Jeff started the famed big wave contest at Mavericks in 1998, intensifying the public’s focus on big waves and putting California on the map as the new standard for big wave performance surfing. Many of the best big wave surfers in the world seek out Jeff’s shapes, including Chris Bertish, winner of the 2010 contest held in 40 to 60 foot surf.

All active lifestyles have a few bumps along the way, and Jeff’s is no exception. He has had seven surgeries to ankles, knees, hips, back and neck and is still stoked to be surfing Mavericks 41 years after his first paddle out. He recently gave a Tedx talk covering mindset, skills and tools to achieve. Jeff's slogan Find Your Wave® has become a theme to inspire others to live their dreams.

Jeff’s passion also includes philanthropy. He supports St. Jude’s Children's Hospital, Sonoma Children’s Charities, Schultz Foundation, Pipeline to a Cure, Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside, Coastside Hope, Half Moon Bay High School Surf Club and many other organizations that help our communities, particularly in the area of health and wellness.

Jeff and his wife Cassandra own and run Mavericks Surf Company in Half Moon Bay comprising two shops, Jeff Clark Surfboards and their ownership in the Titans of Mavericks surf contest.

Jeff is continually inspired by his three children, Katrina, Kevin and Kaila and his two grandchildren. His commitment to Jesus Christ is the driving force in Jeff's life, and he is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Jeff remains as stoked as a grom to paddle out in any surf anywhere from two to twenty feet. He has found his wave.