Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Wave

As kayakers, we seek them out, and we avoid them. We harness them and ride them. We even generate them. And in Susan Casey's latest book, she seeks out the the biggest waves she can find.
In The Wave, she follows the world's best extreme surfers as they travel the world in search of the elusive 100-foot ride. From Hawaii to Mexico to the Far East, she follows the elite of the sport as they push the barrier between remarkable and reckless. With eloquent language and in the manner of Vicki McAuley's Solo or Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, she explores the need of some people to push the edge almost to the point of falling over it. And a fall off waves like Mavericks or Jaws could be a life-altering or life-ending experience.
But she doesn't limit her search for the big waves to the surfing beaches. She consulted with physicists and oceanographers to learn the latest science on the creation of rogue waves, and the effects climate change is having on the oceans. She met with salvagers who take control of disabled tankers and cargo ships after their crews have been rescued. And she explored an inlet in Alaska that in 1958 suffered stunning damage from a 1,700 foot-tall tsunami. (Yes, 1,700 feet. That is not a typo.)
It's a rollicking good read and will take you as close as words can to sliding up a big one on a board as the foam splashes around you, and the thunder rattles up through your bones.

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