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Tow-in surfing is a surfing technique which uses artificial assistance to allow the surfer to catch faster moving waves than was traditionally possible when paddling by hand.
Tow-in surfing was pioneered by Laird Hamilton, Buzzy Kerbox, Dave Kalama, Milton Willis, Michael Willis, Sandra Chevally, Thomas Bernard, and others in the mid 1990s. A surfer is towed into a breaking wave by a partner driving a personal watercraft (PWC, commonly known by the brand name Jet Ski) or a helicopter with an attached tow-line. This method has a demonstrated advantage in situations where the wave is too large (such as Peʻahi off the north side of Maui), or where position on the wave is extremely critical (Teahupoo off southeast Tahiti).
The use of a helicopter for tow-in surfing started to appear in the mid 2000s, and has several advantages over the use of a personal watercraft. The pilot, positioned high above the surfer, is able to spot large waves from farther away and position the surfer accordingly. A helicopter can go faster, and is not affected by the ocean surface like a watercraft, but is much more expensive to operate.
Critics of tow-in surfing decry the noise and exhaust fumes made by PWC engines, as well as the likelihood that new participants can get into predicaments that they have not been trained or conditioned to survive. On the other hand, a skilled team of driver and surfer, who often swap roles in the water during a session, develop a rapport and an understanding of ocean conditions that allows them to pro-actively watch out for each other.
Environmentalists and surfing purists have passed a proposal to shut down tow-in surfing at Mavericks in Northern California, saying that is hazardous to local wildlife and a nuisance to residents.
Famous tow-in spots 
- Todos Santos, Mexico
- Mavericks, Northern California
- Dungeons, Cape Town
- Jaws surf break, Maui
- Aill Na Searrach "Aileen's", Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
- Ilha dos Lobos, Southern Brazil
- Cortes Bank
- Teahupo'o, Tahiti
- Bundoran, Ireland
- Maresias, São Sebastião, Brazil
- Punta de Lobos, Pichilemu, Chile
- Nazaré, Portugal
- Ship Stern Bluff, Tasmania, Australia
Noted big wave surfers 
- Garrett McNamara
- Ken Bradshaw
- Laird Hamilton
- Mike Parsons
- Ross Clarke-Jones
- Keala Kennelly
- Alemão de Maresias
- Ramón Navarro (Chile)
- Logan John Peil
- Greg Noll
- Mark Healey
- Carlos Burle
- Derek Rabelo
- Matt Warshaw: Maverick's: the story of big-wave surfing, Chronicle Books, ISBN 0-8118-2652-X
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