A number of surfers have died doing what they love most. Here are six of the best. May they never be forgotten.
1. Mark Foo
The fearless Hawaiian surfer was a showman and knew how to work the crowd no matter when or where. He had a massive ego, but his heart was equally as big and he had many dear friends. Foo put his money where his mouth was, however, and attempted to surf some of the biggest waves ever seen, during a 50-foot swell at Waimea Bay. He attempted to ride a solid 30-footer during that swell but was unable to pull it off, describing it later in a Surfer Magazine article as ‘the unridden realm.’ He died surfing Mavericks for the first time in December 1994. It is still unclear as to how it happened because the wave was only about 15-foot, but it is assumed that his leash snagged on a rock and he drowned.
Video: ‘In memory of Mark Foo (1958 – 1994)’
2. Sion Milosky
A goofy-footer from Kaui, Milosky was first known as a proficient long-boarder and was somewhat late in coming to the big wave fold. It soon became obvious that the man was fearless, and he would charge hard from the underground, only gaining any sort of fame late in his career. It was a career that was unfortunately cut short, when he was held under for two giant waves at Mavericks in 2011, and failed to surface. His body was found nearly a mile away from the break sometime later.
Video: ‘R.I.P. Sion Milosky’
3. Donny Solomon
It was in 1995 that a young California surfer named Donny Solomon found himself in trouble at Waimea Bay in Hawaii. Solomon was confident and competent in big water, but he paddled for a wave, missed it and was confronted by a huge set. Solomon went over the falls on a big wave, and he too never resurfaced until it was too late. Kelly Slater, a friend of his, was on the scene when it all went down but Solomon could not be resuscitated.
Video: ‘Donnie Solomon’
4. Ace Cool
Alec Cooke, aka ‘Ace Cool’ was a more recent surfing death when he disappeared at Waimea Bay in 2015. He already had his place in the history books, however, with an attempt to surf the biggest waves ever at Keana Point, as well as a helicopter drop into the line-up on a maxed out and presumed unrideable day at Pipeline. On that day he did manage to ride a wave or two and thus earned his place in the record books. When he died, he paddled out at dusk into a growing swell at Waimea Bay and was never seen again, despite an intense coastal search along the North Shore for a number of days.
Another Hawaiian surfer, Chesser was a highly skilled and talented surfer who competed on the Qualifying Series and who was also comfortable in big surf. he also loathed crowds and on the day of his death, he decided against surfing crowded Waimea Bay and took a left to go and surf Outside Alligators, a wave that is pretty much left alone by all except a few hardy locals. Chesser surfed for a few hours before getting caught inside by a monster 25-foot set and not surviving it. He was a popular surfer amongst the Momentum generation, and Chesser has been sorely missed by all.
Video: ‘Todd Chesser’
6. Malik Joyeux
The Tahitian surfer was extremely confident and capable in giant surf, earning the award for the XXL Tube Of The Year in 2003 for a ridiculous barrel at Teahupo’o. The wave that killed him, by comparison, was a fairly minor wave at Pipeline. Having said that, there is nothing friendly about an 8-foot Pipe wave, and it was such a wave that caught him and it is presumed, slammed him onto the shallow reef below. His body washed quickly in a westerly direction and was found later at Pupukea, to the west of Pipe.