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A Phenomenological Investigation of the Psychology of Big-Wave Surfing at Maverick’s

Section: Applied Research

Authors: Lenny D. Wiersma

Affiliations: Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Fullerton, CA.

Acceptance Date: August 14, 2013

Extreme sport athletes perform in environments that are characterized by danger, unpredictability, and fear, and the consequences of a mistake include severe injury or death. Maverick’s is a big-wave surfing location in Northern California that is known for its cold water temperatures, dangerous ocean wildlife, deep reef, and other navigational hazards. The purpose of this study was to utilize a phenomenological framework to understand the psychology of big-wave surfing at Maverick’s. Seven elite big-wave surfers completed in-depth phenomenological interviews and discussed the psychology related to various stages of big-wave surfing, including pre-surf, in the line-up, catching the wave, riding the wave, wiping out, and post-surf. Big-wave surfers described a variety of experiences associated with surfing at Maverick’s and discussed several ways that they coped with its challenges. The results provide a greater understanding of the psychology of participating in an extreme environment.

Key Words: Extreme

Authors: Lenny D. Wiersma

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