Big-Wave Surfer Sion Milosky Dies at Mavericks
by Owen James Burke
35-year-old Hawaiian big-wave surfer Sion Milosky was in search of the biggest waves he could ride. He met his match when he wiped out on Wednesday north of Half Moon Bay in Northern California at the notoriously dangerous surf break Mavericks, and for 20 minutes thereafter he was not seen. He was found “tethered to his surfboard and floating face down,” deputies reported. Milosky was pronounced dead at Seton Coastside Hospital in Moss Beach at 6:51 p.m., his exact cause of death is yet to be determined. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Milosky was a well-known member of the big-wave surfing community, he is credited with having caught the largest paddle-in wave on record, but was still always in search of bigger waves. He has made his way onto several major magazine covers and most recently, was named the North Shore Underground Surfer of the Year last month. His winnings included $25,000, some of which helped to pay for his most recent trip to California on Sunday.
Sion Milosky paddled out at around 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday and had caught five or six waves before his wipeout, friends say. Mavericks is a world class big-wave, a truly demanding challenge, and it was in full form on Wednesday with faces ranging 25-40 feet and rough surface conditions. Mavericks may not form the world’s largest wave, but it develops from a very drastic rise in the coastal shelf leading to a shallow rock reef, breaking with a force beyond anyone’s imagination–that is, until they’ve been in it.
Sion is not the first to have died there. In 1994, surf icon Mark Foo drowned at Mavericks. Sion’s passing is a tragedy, a great loss for the surf community, and an all-too-necessary reminder of what can go wrong when man is at sea.