November 30th, 2015
Who surfed the Biggest Wave in California? For decades, Many believe it was “Peanuts”
**George “Peanuts” Larson, Killer Dana. An impressive wave, but supposedly not his biggest
Late September 1939, long before the discovery of Mavs and when Greg Noll was still in diapers, a giant chubasco swell -bigger than anyone had ever seen in recent memory- hit the coast of then rural Southern California. The swell was so massive it leveled piers and pounded the shore with an uncompromising fury sending a salty mist across the coastal cities. This is the setting in which the myth of “Peanuts” was born.
There, just off the coast of San Onofre, was George “Peanuts” Larson, alone in the windswept line up scratching for liquid mountains while the area’s top watermen stood on the shore in disbelief. Without a wetsuit, a leash or the slightest hesitation, Peanuts dropped in to what onlookers later described as the biggest wave ever ridden in California (possibly the world) -and it remained that way for years, even decades, to come. “He looked like a mouse on the side of the grand canyon.” described then lifeguard, Hevs McClellan. Some say it was 30 feet, others say even bigger, we will never know for sure, but regardless of size this one ride would eventually become one of the greatest legends of early surfing history.
Peanuts and Dave Tompkins Unload a Day’s Catch in Laguna Beach.
In his book Craig Lockwood meticulously pieces together yarns, myths, and a host of both primary and secondary sources to give the most detailed account of one of surfing’s nearly forgotten pioneers: George “Peanuts” Larson. It tells the story of a larger than life character, with an almost uncanny mastery of ocean all skills – be it free diving, swimming, body surfing, dory rowing, surfboard shaping, or lifeguarding. But it also tells the story of a real man, blemishes and all set in the once fertile and eventually urbanizing landscape of Southern California. In the end what is certain is that regardless of actual size of the surf, by sheer celebrity at a time before surf media or records even existed, George “Peanuts” Larson rode the biggest waves of his, and arguably any other generation.
This book is loaded with old photos and will make you nostalgic not of “the way it was, but the way it’s never going to be again.”
**Picture at Top of Page: While unfortunately there was no camera around during the time of his supposed XXL ride, Peanuts did get a shot of this almost equally impressive wave at Killer Capo. Note: he’s on a finless, solid wood 100lb+ board!
Above pictures borrowed from book