“Storm chasing” with Shannon Marie


 | December 29, 2014

This weeks “5 questions with” interview is with Shannon Marie. She just recently took the amazing Mavericks “Surfer getting ejected out of the boat” shot that went completely viral (see picture below), which is the main focus of the interview. But besides that picture, Shannon is such a perfect example of the people we like to interview at Event Santa Cruz. She is an entrepreneur that is doing exactly what she wants to do and is making a living doing it. She is truly following her passion – “storm chasing”.

Mavericks Ejection



Swinnerton: What were you doing out at Mavericks Saturday? (Dec 20th)

 Shannon: A big swell was on the horizon at Mavericks, and so I flew to San Francisco on 48-hr notice to work on a big-wave production project featuring the world’s best female surfers – the WickrX Super Sessions. Maui surfers Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms, Andrea Moller came out to try Mavericks for the first time, alongside local legends from Santa Cruz – Sarah Gerhardt, Savannah Shaughnessy and Bianca Valenti. On Monday, they scored a warm-up session where 75% of the people in the water were women. Pretty historic.

Just a couple days later, the buoys shot up and the best swell in 4 years hit Mavericks. We headed out in a Zodiac with an experienced team – who even produced ‘Chasing Mavericks.’ It was pretty inspiring to document and be a part of.

Swinnerton: How was the surf that day?

Shannon:  Mavericks was heavy, probably the biggest we’ve seen it since 2010 – producing 40-45 ft+ wave face heights. The winds were calm through the morning, but the energy was high  – especially with the world’s top professional big-wave chargers from around the world. The level of talent in the water made it look manageable, but swinger sets and rogue waves are a major player in the lineup out there.

There was a lot of carnage – broken leashes, broken boards…

The science behind Mavericks is pretty unreal, and it’s such a dark, deep water wave that it’s simultaneously scary and mesmerizing – as many cold water spots are. Imagine 5-story buildings crashing in front of you leaving a trail of whitewash twice as high. 

There were many incredible rides ridden on Big Wednesday, and equally – if not more – horrific wipeouts. There’s no one surfer that makes it out of Mavericks unscathed. She’s just too powerful and all-mighty.

Matthew: Can you tell us about this epic picture you took of Mark Healey getting ejected out of the boat? This picture has rightly gone viral. It really is an amazing shot. Was the boat to close to the shore or what?

Shannon: It was late afternoon and the tide was at its low. A few bomb set-waves cleared the lineup and there was a huge wave out the back. Mavericks is known for its swinger sets, but I suppose the captain of that boat was caught off-guard – and they got caught inside, just barely making it over the lip of the wave. As is rocked back and forth, two professional surfers – Mark Healey and Tyler Fox – launched in to the air and overboard and others held the railings and braced for whatever would happen next.

Our Zodiac boat was deeper in the channel at the right moment, at the right time to snap the shot. 

I Instagramed a preview of Healey getting bucked off from my camera view finder just minutes after it happened. Before I even docked back at the harbor that day, it has been reposted and shared across nearly every outlet in the surf community, mainstream media and international press shocked by the image. Even Healey’s girlfriend shared it, writing “Mixed feelings about this photo!”

It’s ironic; the photo of Mark Healey launched overboard has been the most successful of my journalism career thus far. For these ‘Big Wave Hellmen’ that swim with sharks and get tubed in the most dangerous waves on the planet – the moment captured by this photo is just another day-in-the-life. I had no idea it would explode like it did, but social media is extremely powerful. 

Water safety is everyone’s priority, and a key component of big-wave surfing. Hopefully my work as a journalist contributes to the progression of our sport, as the photo demonstrates, the dangers of Mother Nature are real. That’s what makes it so exciting to watch, and television worthy. 

Matthew: Besides being an awesome photographer, surfer, snowboarder, what is your day job?

Shannon: I work in sports television broadcasting, and have been focused on the action sports industry for most of my life. I founded The Surf Channel Television Network in 2012, which has been my “day job” for the last few years. Now I am working for multiple sports outlets and YouTube channels – producing, directing and managing social media platforms. I also build websites and translate film scripts. I graduated from UCLA with Literature degrees and 

The flexibility as an entrepreneur allows me to storm chase – which is what I thrive off of, whether surfing or snowboarding. You could say that’s my day job – storm chasing.


Matthew: What’s next for Shannon Marie?

Shannon:  After Big Wednesday at Mavericks, I flew back to Maui in search of warm water waves. The upcoming big-wave event here at Jaws, Pe’ahi, is a highly anticipated first of its kind – one of the heaviest Hawaiian waves. But the contest won’t hold unless the perfect conditions line up, and I will only have a 48 hr notice. Thus, I am working on freesurf projects and waiting for the perfect storm, crossing my fingers that it will happen this winter, while we track storm models brewing at other places in the world and wait to pull the trigger.

Until then, I am writing, editing and planning a few snowboard trips between swells. I love what I do, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keep updated with Shannon Marie’s travels on and Instagram @ShannonReporting

More pictures of that day by Shannon Marie

(Picture 2) Photo of big-wave surfer Nic Vaughan

(Picture 3) Jamie Mitchell wipeout. He rode four waves and broke three boards that day at Mavericks.

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