Do you even have a "big-wave game"?
The Hawaiian Ian Walsh, who is 31, has shaped out a meaningful (read: he gets paid) career out of chasing swells around the world. For the northern hemisphere winter he is based in Maui (yeah, Jaws) but when those swells evaporate he’s ready to pounce on Tahiti, Fiji, Indonesia, South Africa or Australia.
Just lately, and mostly because he’s single and when you’re single and 31 and you know commitment might be just around the corner you do such things, Ian’s considering a move to Barcelona. It’s a convenient airline hub, but also, the girls are smoking, the the bars are alive and you can pounce on Scandinavia or Italy for a weekend of partying if the mood, or an uncomfortable tumescence, strikes.
Still, if there’s a swell, Ian’ll chase and lasso it. Here, Ian taps out 5 important slugs of advice for the big-wave novice.
1. Time in the water
This is so unsexy it hurts me. But it’s true. You’ve got to put more hours in the water. Surf a shitload. Find a connection with waves that comes from hours and hours in the water. And when it gets big being in the surf won’t feel so alien. You’ll feel a kinship. You’ll anticipate what’s coming, you’ll read signals that were previously invisible.
2. Learn to ride those giant boards
Don’t be one of those guys that has his eight-o in the racks and only pulls it out when the surf hits 15 foot. You don’t wanna be swiping off cobwebs from dirty wax. Ride it, ride it often. Know it. Yeah, it’s thick, yeah, it’s long, but it’s narrow and if you don’t make it part of your family, you’ll be struck with a lack of confidence in your equipment while you’re in the biggest waves of your life. Know it and it’s an old pal. You and she against the world.
3. Get pounded
No, no! Not in Barcelona! I mean, don’t shy away from falling and getting pounded. The more you go down, the more you experience those motions and experience what it’s like to be thrown around violently, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Embrace it. Think of it as a fun park ride without the tedium of safety rules.
4. Watch the alphas
When you start dipping your feet into the water on a bigger day, pay a quiet attention to the dominant guys, the consistently good guys, in the lineup. Don’t bother ’em, don’t pepper ’em with questions, observe from a distance how they approach everything. Take mental notes and remember to respect ’em.
5. Send it!
More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Huck yourself over the ledge!