These are some of the world’s most lethal waves

Some wave are downright ugly, some terrifying, some deadly and some just plain insane.

Here we take a look at the world’s most lethal waves. Be warned though, a helmet may be required just to read this.

The Right

Mark Mathews in the belly of the beast. Photo Russell Ord
Mark Mathews in the belly of the beast. Photo: Courtesy of Russell Ord
“There is no more terrifying wave on the planet than The Right,” Australian big wave charger Mark Mathews explains to GrindTV. “It is located in the middle of nowhere, miles out to sea, and goes from super deep water to the shallowest slab. Oh, and there are great white sharks everywhere.”

Sounds like fun, eh?

The wave located on the very remote southern tip of Western Australia has only been surfed in the last decade. In that short time however it has provided some of surfing’s most horrific, and compelling, moments.


Mark Mathews, again, stepping out at Shipsterns. Photo Oneill
Mark Mathews, again, stepping out at Shipsterns. Photo: Courtesy of O’neill
“It’s the steps. The steps are what turn that wave from something really, really scary, into an almost mutant death wish.” Strong words from big wave charger, and UFC Fighter, Richie Vaculik, but he would know, having surfed the big wave spot off the coast of Tasmania more than most.

The steps he refers to are large ripples that occur halfway down the face of the wave that force a surfer to launch into the air to complete the wave.

This would be a problem anywhere at any size, but when the wave is 40-feet high, breaking in freezing cold water, yards from huge boulders and a two hour boat ride from medical facilities, you start to see Richie’s point.

The Wedge

“As of 2013, it was estimated that the Wedge had killed eight people, paralyzed another 35 and sent thousands to the hospital with sprains, fractures, and dislocations,” says Matt Warshaw in the Encyclopedia of Surfing. “As such the Wedge has injured more wave-riders than any break in the world.”

Warshaw is talking about the infamous lefthander that breaks to the west of the jetty of Newport Harbor in California.

Huge waves refract against the jetty, almost doubling in size, before detonating on shallow sand just 30 yards from shore. It is equally evil, and addictive, and despite the injuries and deaths, still attracts a hardcore group of bodysurfers, skim boarders, surfers and bodyboarders every time it breaks.


Jamie Stirling heading into the dungeon at the Red Bull Big Wave event in 2008. Photo by Red Bull
Jamie Stirling heading into the dungeon at the Red Bull Big Wave event in 2008. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull
Any wave that only starts to break when wave heights reach 40 feet must be considered lethal.

However when that wave is located a mile from shore, in one of the world’s best known great white shark breeding areas and breaks in no defined pattern in icy-cold water, you see how Dungeons takes it to the extreme.

Located just off Cape Town’s Hout Bay it has hosted numerous big wave competitions, and a select crew of clearly insane locals still charge it every time it breaks. Why? You’ll have to ask them.


“It’s not even a wave, it’s a sick joke,” said Koby Abberton after surfing Cyclops. More than 15 years after that attempt, skimboarder Brad Domke (see above) was the latest to prove that Western Australia’s Cyclops is not meant for human consumption.

The wave breaks in such shallow water that it compresses all its energy in mere seconds to quickly become three times as thick as it is high.

Despite numerous injuries, the unique nature of the wave continues to attract surfers. Most who surf it usually vow to never go anywhere near the place again.


A drone's eye view of the power and danger of Ours. Photo Red Bull Cape Fear
A drone’s eye view of the power and danger of Ours. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull Cape Fear
“I didn’t want to watch, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off it,” Taj Burrow told GrindTV, after watching the Cape Fear contest held at Ours. “I really thought someone could die every time they caught a wave.”

Just how no one died during that competition is still a mystery, with surfers tackling waves with 20-foot faces that were slamming into a barely submerged rock ledge.

If they didn’t make it, which occurred nine times out of 10, they then had to deal with a jagged 20-foot-high cliff that lies less than 10 yards from the wave. That makes Ours one of the greatest waves for spectators, and one of the most punishing for surfers.


Mavericks in Half Moon Bay has many of the characteristics off all the waves listed, just rolled into one terrifying mass.

Huge waves break on a shallow slab in freezing cold, shark-infested waters. If that wasn’t enough, huge boulders then stick out of the water hoping to snarl any surfers who have survived a wipeout.

That two of Hawaii’s most legendary big-wave surfers, Mark Foo and Sion Miloksy have died at the break, probably tells you all you need to know about its ferocity.

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