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Mike Jones, owner of Azhiaziam surf shop in Morro Bay, caught this photo of what some people estimate was a 100-foot wave in Portugal in December. An Atascadero man's photo of German surfer dropping into a mountain of water won top honors at the World Surf League's XXL Biggest Wave Award competition last weekend.

Mike Jones, who owns Azhiaziam surf shop in Morro Bay, won $4,000 for the prize, which was announced during a ceremony in Anaheim on Friday. Jones captured a shot of Sebastian Steudner riding a wave some have said could be as big as 100 feet in Portugal last December.

Steudtner also won for having caught the year's largest wave — the one Jones captured on camera.



Local photographer captures huge waves at Mavericks.

A surfer drops into a wave at the famous Mavericks surf spot in Half Moon Bay on Monday. El Niño conditions are expected to bring plenty of big swell to the coast this winter.MIKE JONESAZHIAZIAM

When he saw that a big swell was headed for the coast, Mike Jones rushed up to Half Moon Bay with camera gear and a jet ski, hoping to capture images of California’s famous big wave spot.

After waking up at 4 a.m. Monday, he launched his ski at Mavericks around 6:30 in the morning.

“It was so foggy, I couldn’t see 100 yards,” said Jones, who lives in Atascadero and owns the Azhiaziam surf shop in Morro Bay.

Once he made it out of the harbor, he began to see some of the 40-foot bombs. While most surfers would shudder at the thought of dropping into a 4-story wave, the surfers who brave Mavericks are known for nerves of steel.

Jones said there were as many as 60 people in the lineup at one time, including pro surfers Garrett McNamara, Ken Collins and Brazilian Danilo Couto.

“The crowd was thick with every type of surfer in the line-up,” Jones wrote in an e-mail. “From 14-70 years old, males and females, veterans and beginners.”

Jones, a longtime surfer himself, shared some of his Mavericks photos with The Tribune.

Jones frequently chases big waves with his camera. Last December, he shot some of the biggest waves ever surfed at Nazarè, Portugal, and he has frequently shot surf sessions at big wave haven Teahupo’o, in Tahiti. He has also frequently shot surfers at Half Moon Bay, where the Titans of Mavericks competition will be held between now and March.