On January 8, 2021, Peter Mel, the former Big Wave World Champion, BWT Commissioner and current WSL commentator, paddled into what is widely considered to the best wave ever ridden at Mavericks. The next day, the 51-year-old towed into what might be the biggest wave ever ridden at the Californian big wave spot.
Those instantly iconic waves were the result of three decades of dedication to Mavericks. Yet, in a recent interview with fellow WSL commentator Paul Evans on the It's Not The Length podcast Mel, often known by his Santa Cruz nickname, The Condor, revealed that there was some more recent, and personal, decisions that that led to those incredible waves.
"A lot of success has come from the fact that I've been able to focus on what's important," Mel said. "My mum's ill, so that's been a really tough pill to swallow in all of this. I was due to go to Maui in December, but I made the decision to stay with her, and from that decision to focus on my family everything has snowballed from there."
That family connection extended into the water. Pete has teamed up with his son John and the pair have been on every Mavericks swell since the winter season starts rolling in early December.
"I've really been inspired by the performances of John," Pete said. "He's been amped on every swell, and we are taking turns looking after each other's backs. That's the reason why I've been up there more than anyone, because I've in the lineup as a dad, making sure he's supported and safe."
In the video of the epic wave, you can hear John screaming, "Go The Condor" as his dad paddles for the wave. The raw footage with John's narration, the scale of the wave, the perfect execution by Pete and the emotional release afterwards manages to tell an all-time surf story -- in less than a minute.
Pete explained that it was an incredible day of waves at Mavericks on December 8 that also played a key to all of this. That was the day Kai Lenny put in an epic performance and Grant "Twiggy" Baker paddled into a monster. Mel analyzed the footage from that day and entertained the idea that it was possible to do deeper and backdoor the bowl.
A month later, after watching all morning while running safety for John, he eventually paddled out and sat 25 yards deeper than his usual spot. Less than five minutes later that vision became a reality.
"I've chatted about a wave like that for years with all the committed Mavericks surfers," says Pete. "It was a line that we'd touched on and talked about, but no one had been able to do it. Til now."
You can listen to the full interview with Pete starting at 20-minute mark on the It's Not The Length Podcast below.