Mavericks charger Savannah Shaughnessy is Buell Wetsuits first female team rider
Santa Cruz, CA, (Feb 1, 2011) – On December 11th Savannah Shaughnessy put the finishing touches on her Ichthyology and Marine Ecology field study finals at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and with it, she began her quest to become one of Big Wave Surfing’s best female athletes.
Savannah’s first step toward preparing for what the winter waves would have in store was signing a sponsorship deal with Buell Wetsuits.”I’m really excited to announce Santa Cruz’s own Savannah Shaughnessy as Buell Wetsuits first and foremost female team rider. Her infectious energy and cool demeanor can be seen clearly in her surfing. Young, hard-charging and dedicated, expect Savannah to turn heads and raise the already high bar of women’s surfing.” – Ryan Buell, Buell Wetsuits
Her first big wave exploit this winter was a quick trip up to Nelscott Reef in Oregon where she finished 2nd to Kauai’s Keala Kennelly in the first ever big wave exhibition for women. When the Nelscott contest was over she blazed a trail back to Santa Cruz where she won the Volcom Greatwhite Series contest at Steamer Lane, her home break.
Soon after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from UCSC in December, Mavericks came to life and Savannah was there. It has taken five years of preparation to earn her way from the channel to the bowl at Mavericks, including five summers living in Puerto Escondido where she surfed the heavy beach break daily.
On January 6, Savannah got a taste of the dark side of Mavericks. After sitting in the line-up for about an hour, she saw her wave. As the biggest set of the day was bearing down, she swung her 9’6″ Strive gun around and stroked into the beast. Having positioned herself further outside and deeper than the rest of the pack, she knew the drop would be critical. Soon after navigating the initial freefall, she dug her inside rail and was launched from her board, cartwheeling down the face. The beating she endured would be minor in comparison to the one that she would have to deal with moments later.
After surfacing from that wipeout she paddled back out for more. The second wave she took produced similar results, but even more violent. Driven deep into the abyss, her board tombstoning in the tumultuous whitewater, Savannah made her way to the surface and called it a day. With her head throbbing from a possible concussion, she made her way back to Santa Cruz and into the record books–Savannah has the dubious distinction of being the only female surfer ever featured in Surfline’s “Greatest Wipeouts”.
Savannah hopes to travel to other big wave spots around the globe to test the skills she’s learned at Mavericks and Puerto Escondido. “I haven’t really surfed any big wave spots other than Mavericks and Puerto. I’d love to see for myself what waves like Shipsterns, Dungeons, Todos Santos and the Cortez Bank are like. I’d like to figure out what makes them do what they do and how they might compare to Mavericks.” she said.
Being a top-five finalist in the 2010 Billabong XXL Women’s Performance category and taking 2nd place at the 2010 Nelscott Reef event has opened the eyes of many in the surf industry to this humble Santa Cruz surfer.
“I feel that if Savannah had any kind of sponsor support to travel more and chase big swells, she could easily become the best women’s big wave surfer in the world,” said Derek Dunfee, winner of the 2009 Billabong XXL Monster Paddle In Award.
For now, as long as the North Pacific keeps whipping up 30′-40′ seas, Savannah will continue to make the most of her time with her beloved Mavericks.