Everything you ever wanted to know…

...about big wave surfing. And then some!

The Player’s Tribune, Derek Jeter’s website/portal into the mind’s of athletes, is an amazing place. He started it because he felt the press would often twist his words. And so he created a place free of twist. A “unique insight into the daily sports conversation that publishes first-person stories directly from athletes.” Athletes write about their experiences at length without nasty journalists getting in their way.

Today, you can find Mark Healey writing about big wave surfing at length. He tells us everything we ever wanted to know plus much more. Without further twist from a nasty journalist, here he is.


“So, what do you do?”

You know that thing when you’re at a party and it’s kind of tedious having to explain your job to people? Well, I’m no different. My answer can be summed up in four words: professional big-wave surfer. But as the follow-up questions come, it gets a bit more complicated. To put it simply, I chase ocean-born storms — the largest I can possibly find— all around the planet with the goal of riding the waves they create. Like a doctor, I feel like I’m always on call. As the saying goes, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

Surfing, that’s the fun part.

But there’s another part of my job that’s just as important: getting there. Seems obvious, right? You have to get to the wave to catch the wave. The big-wave surfer’s mantra might be the famous line, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Big, beautiful, pristine waves come and go all the time, and no human is there to ride them. That’s the big difference between surfing and big-wave surfing. If you’re not there at the right time, you’re suddenly no longer a big-wave surfer — you’re just a weary traveler standing on a beach, staring out at a flat ocean. Like a lot of sports, luck and timing both play huge roles.

Looking at big-wave surfing as a job, this is how I’d break it down.

First, you have to be a meteorologist. Or at least, you have to be an amateur meteorologist who thinks he’s a real one. Basically, you have to obsess over weather patterns, day and night. Some people call me a “storm chaser,” but most of my storm chasing starts in front of a computer, scouring the Internet. I refresh swell reports like it’s Fantasy Football.

Next, you have to be a good travel agent. You can start to see a storm brewing about five days out. That’s when you first “see” a wave. Surfing is a laid-back lifestyle, but you have to be anything but laid back about logistics. Everything is last minute and you’re always rushing. Then you have a choice: Do you go? If the answer is yes, you usually have one-to-two days to get halfway around the world. If you don’t drop everything right away, no matter what engagements or responsibilities you have, you’ll get to a beach 13,000 miles away and miss the whole thing. It’s happened to every big-wave surfer.

(read lots more here!)

Taj Burrow baby
Baby Arabella Rose, a source of perpetual wonderment to parents Rebecca Jobson (pictured) and Taj Burrow.

Year of the Stud: Taj Burrow, Daddy!

First Dane Reynolds, now the tour’s flashiest vet… 

A few hours ago, the once-perennial bachelor, Taj Burrow, took delivery of a baby girl, Arabella Rose, just five months after Dane Reynolds and Courtney Jaedtke had their little Sammy Boo.

It’s the year of the aggressively virile stud tamed by formidable, maybe even great, women.

(Read about Dane’s Sammy Boo here)

On the photo, here, we see the new father getting in close to see the radiant look on his kid’s little face. I’ve thrown seed and sired children hither and yon since I was not much more than a child myself and so I can write, with some authority, that the face of a a child is like a tunnel opening onto the essence of the world. I understand exactly the sudden change in rhythms of life, of values, the recalibration of what is serious, what is funny and what is not.

Taj Burrow baby
And with the arrival of child comes a new kind of frivolity, laden with worry and responsibility, yeah, but with a levity and new appreciation to life.

The mother is Rebecca Jobson, whom you saw in the main photo, and whose erotic value has definitely not diminished after childbrith.

For both, a blossoming awaits. Life begins now.

Movie: how to score nines with Mick Fanning

Four dazzling waves from 2015. The jazz-like perfection of a world champion.

There’s never any bullshit with Mick Fanning. He’s no ass-out trapeze artist like Gabriel. There’s no crazy jive like Filipe. He’s not jamming junk down your throat like Julian Wilson.

Three world titles, a probable forth by the time December comes around. Who’s going to argue with that?

I assembled this compendium of Mick’s nine-point plus rides from 2015 to disprove the central theory in a story that claimed judges were pushing him through heats with all their weight.

Let’s examine the charge.

“Enter the Mick Fanning Complex. The judges (and commentators) apparently love nothing more than watching the EXACT same combination of turns on the outside to a half-layback safety snap on the inside close-out section. Predictability would be an understatement. Mick Fanning is often hailed as the most consistent surfer on tour. No shit he is. The dude has been doing the exact same thing for the last 15 years. Look at any contest footage (or video parts for that matter) of his over the course of his career. Besides his boards and boardies getting a bit shorter, he looks, literally, exactly the same. Forget “do it in your sleep” Mick could do it in a fuckin’ coma.”

(Click here to read the story in its entirety)

I can’t figure the whole switch out. What’s wrong with a system that rewards perfection of technique? Mick Fanning is a like a jazz musician blowing a horn and being really part of it. It’s part of him.

Why would you argue?

How to score nines (and win multiple world titles) with Mick Fanning from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

Adriano De Souza claim

Embarrassing: The Dumb Things Surfers Do

How about teaching your gal (or stud) to surf? The whole claiming thing?

I shot a nice sized omilu (blue-fin trevally for all you haole types) yesterday at 65′ deep, about a half-mile off Kauai’s South Shore.

For deep-ish dives I like to use my 130cm gun. It’s got good range, and enough power to take down pretty much anything in the ocean smaller than a tuna. It kicks like a mule though. You really need to lock your wrist and elbow before taking a shot.

I know this, the recoil has smashed the loading butt into my face on more than a few shots. But the fish was under a ledge and I couldn’t get a good angle without repositioning myself and spooking the thing, so I took an awkward limp wristed shot. Got smacked in the mouth pretty good, little bit of a fat lip. Which sucks when you’re two atmospheres down and have been holding your breath for over a minute.

Landed the fish though.

The point being, we all do stupid stuff, from time to time.

Here’s some dumb things surfers like to do, even though we should all know better.

Teach your partner to surf

It seems like such a good idea. You and your partner of whatever gender strokes your fancy sharing an evening glass off. The sun setting on the horizon, light playing off the ocean surface, refracted rainbows dancing in the droplets caught in your eyelashes.  So romantic, so amazing, so mistaken.

The reality is that you’ve got a new surf buddy, but they suck, and you can’t just ditch them when the waves get good. Overhead barrels at your favorite spot? Tough luck, you’re driving the coast looking for waist-high garbage they can splash around in.

No matter how much you love someone, there will be times you just don’t want to spend another second looking at their stupid fucking face.

And take it from me, a guy who’s shared his life with the same woman for the last fifteen years, long-term relationships aren’t always a walk in the park. No matter how much you love someone, there will be times you just don’t want to spend another second looking at their stupid fucking face.

Say goodbye to using surfing as an escape, a chance to recharge and realize how little all your petty problems matter compared to the love you two share. Because they’re right there on the shoulder, flailing around like a drowning seagull, about to drop in on you.

Put your board on the roof without strapping it down

A gust of wind on a calm day, a flying board, that awful crunch that makes you cringe before you even turn around to inspect the damage.

Or you go even further, backing out of your parking spot, hitting the brakes, thinking, “What was that noise?” as it clatters to the ground, then backing right over the top of your new 6’0″ in the El Porto parking lot.

Secure your board before you do anything else. Once that baby’s strapped down tight you can go ahead and change, or shoot the shit with your buddies, or ogle that hot chick doing yoga on top of the berm.

Buy a board based on how well your favorite pro rides it

I’ve never ridden a Hypto Krypto. The board looks fun and all, short and fat and flat usually makes for a good time. It’s definitely marketed well, Anderson uses the thing to make life look so damn easy.

But I’m not him, and neither are the ten million kooks I’ve seen flailing in the whitewash on tiny epoxy import Kryptos they picked up after reading some rave review online. Sure, homeboy can gush about how well his 5’4″ works in any condition the ocean can dream up, but he’s one of the best surfers in the world. What works for him doesn’t really translate for us mortals.

Same deal with every shape that Dane dreams up.

Claim a barrel

I was nineteen, a week into my first trip to Costa Rica, and surfing super fun overhead barrels at Playa Avellanas. It was a magic session, some of the best warm water surf I’d ever experienced, a filmer friend was on the beach capturing all the action. I linked into the best barrel of my life up to that point, six seconds long, so deep, so stoked.  I couldn’t wait to see the footage.

Later that night I got my chance. It was a two-second head dip. Bent at the waist, lip hitting my back, so awkward and terrible. And then I claimed it. Hard. So hard it’d make a brazzo pro wince. Shouting and pumping my fist and carrying on like I’d just won the world title.

Thank god it was 1999 and uploading embarrassing shit to social media wasn’t a thing yet.

How To Claim – Surf Sufficient from www.KORDUROY.tv on Vimeo.

Exclusive: “The metallic taste of fear…”

Come watch a never-been-released big wave teaser!

The madmen who have a kink for giant surf will always fascinate me. I wait for their feats, as northern hemisphere winter rolls around again, with bated breath. This year’s El Nino is certain to go absolutely wild, they say, and so I will watch the purple blobs with even more anticipation. How do they do it? How do they sit out in rolling insanity and then throw themselves over the ledge? How? How?

South African filmmaker Michael Oblowitz shares my driving curiosity. Before his latest, Heavy Water, there was Twiggy. He followed his countryman and champion big wave surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker out to Mavericks and captured the fury of the ocean and was captured himself. He tells me:

“I was able to go undercover out there with a super fast twin hulled speedboat and two ultra high speed Red Cameras with Hydroflex mounts and gets as close to the action as possible without a jet ski or swimming. The incredibly powerful slow motion close up footage of Mavericks breaking became the impetus along with meeting Nathan for Heavy Water.”

And I get it. I get not being able to tear eyes away from the horrible sea at its worst. We share an addiction, I suppose. Not the addiction of those who ride but the addiction of those who try to figure out what dwells in the heart of the exceptional man. Twiggy and Heavy Water are two sessions on a therapists couch. Two stabs at defining the closest thing on earth to Nietzche’s ubermensch.

Watch here…

TWIGGY from Stephen Eckelberry on Vimeo.