Nam Baldwin
Here we see the big-waver Ryan Hipwood being tumbled by Nam Baldwin. During the course, Nam told a story of Ryan preparing himself for…the…wipeout and, when it happened, knocked unconscious at Shipsterns, he found it the most sublime experience ever. "Train hard, play easy," advises Nam. | Photo: Nam Baldwin/

How to: Survive a Two-Wave Hold-down!

Too late for Aaron Gold, but not for you…

Yesterday, I paid $175 for a four-hour Breath Enhancement course with Mick Fanning’s trainer Nam Baldwin. I’d read and heard plenty about the breath-holding game, written about it few times, even, and wanted to crawl into the darkness of oxygen deprivation.

Specifically, I wanted to hit a point where the oxygenated blood is released from the spleen… euphoria!… and I wanted to learn how to activate the mammalian dive reflex, that dramatic decrease in heart rate and the peripheral vasoconstriction that pulls the oxygen from the limbs and to the vital organs.

Nam Baldwin can hold his breath for seven minutes.

I wanted to find my inner dolphin.

Outside magazine’s James Nestor tells a wonderful anecdote of the first time the dive reflex was proven.

“In 1949, a stocky Italian air force lieutenant named Raimondo Bucher decided to try a potentially deadly stunt off the coast of Capri, Italy. Bucher would sail out to the center of the lake, take a breath and hold it, and free-dive down one hundred feet to the bottom. Waiting there would be a man in a diving suit. Bucher would hand the diver a package, then kick back up to the surface. If he completed the dive, he’d win a fifty-thousand-lira bet; if he didn’t, he would drown.

Scientists warned Bucher that, according to Boyle’s law, the dive would kill him. Formulated in the 1660s by the Anglo-Irish physicist Robert Boyle, this equation predicted the behavior of gases at various pressures, and it indicated that the pressure at a hundred feet would shrink Bucher’s lungs to the point of collapse. He dove anyway, delivered the package, and returned to the surface smiling, with his lungs perfectly intact. He won the bet, but more important, he proved all the experts wrong. Boyle’s law, which science had taken as gospel for three centuries, appeared to fall apart underwater.”

Oowee, who wouldn’t want a piece?

And, today, after the big-waver Aaron Gold had to be resuscitated after a two-wave hold-down?

How would your or I be able to deal with the sorta waves that make you involuntarily suck in your gut, that lock your throat with panic?

I was among 12 students, ten studs, two gals, who all wanted to get better at choking off their oxygen supply. A couple admitted to being a little terrified at even being there. Others wetted their lips in anticipation. Most were a week or so away from boat charters in Indonesia.

Nam, who is 43 years old with a vee-shaped torso and calf muscles that form perfect ovals, begins the course with a classroom physiology lesson.

That instant, panicked gulp of air? It ain’t no good.

If you want to really inflate your lungs, you’ve gotta breath from the diaphragm upwards. We do a bunch of exercises so we get used to the idea of sipping air through a straw. Of expelling air like a whale.


A yoga teacher interjects and describes the feeling of sucking in air as our life force.

“Ah, it’s the oxygen in our lungs,” he says, pointing out to the anatomy diagram on the screen, although he quickly, and diplomatically, soothes her disappointment when he tells her oxygen is, indeed, “chi, life force” and holds his hands in a prayer position.

Soon, we’re in a 25-metre pool, practising breath holds with drills. Three in-breaths, then five metres underwater, ten freestyle, five underwater, back, and repeat every forty five seconds.

Harder than it sounds on paper.

Then, the Caught-Inside-at-Ten-Foot-Sunset drill.

Five metres underwater, ten freestyle, ten underwater, ten freestyle, ten underwater.

Repeat. Four times. I did one and a half.

Get good and you should be be able to nail 12.

In other words, train yourself to be able to deal with being caught inside by the longest, biggest set, you’d ever face on earth.

Later, we activate our mammalian dive reflex with a series of slow breathing exercises and floating face down in the pool.


How about being hypnotised by the dancing waves of light hitting the bottom of the pool. Becoming miniaturised and slowly climbing over each link of the bracelet of the diver next to me. Studying every detail in the grooves of the pool titles.

And surviving two-wave hold-downs?

Don’t breathe as soon as you hit the surface. What if a wave is there and your mouth is open? Thing is, you’ve got more oxygen than you think in your body. It’s the build-up of carbon dioxide that makes you want to breathe.

Come up, look, if it’s clear, breathe out like a whale, inhale.

We practise wipeouts with a drill that is eight seconds being tumbled, three seconds with a foot pushing you onto the pool floor then your leash being pulled taut. You have to release the leash, then swim five metres underwater.

Fun, yeah, surprisingly fun.

Mick Fanning’s gotten so good at the game he trains in a five-metre deep pool, simulating wipeouts by wrestling with Nam underwater.

Should you do it? I can’t believe it too me so long.

Watch Mick underwater here.



Aaron Gold
The Hawaiian big-waver Aaron Gold, post-CPR…

Aaron Gold (nearly) drowns in Fiji!

CPR brings big-wave surfer back to life… 

Earlier today, the Hawaiian big-waver Aaron Gold, who was awarded the biggest paddle-in wave of the year recently, wiped out at 12-foot Cloudbreak and was found unconscious and face-down.

A two-wave hold-down?

The Hawaiian surfer Benji Brand, reports:

Live from Fiji – my brother @therealaarongold had a heavy wipeout this morning at cloudbreak, got a two wave hold down, and then blacked out unconcious underwater for 2 mins. Currently in the hospital checking the amount of water in his lungs. He wouldn’t be alive without Uri grabbing him with the ski or Mark Healy resuscitating him. God bless you guys.

Gotta have friends with eyes, and skills, right?

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More, soon…

Meanwhile, here’s A-Gold at Jaws.



Gimme: Fabulous Bielmann t-shirts!

Brian and Brent Bielmann make their debut at the GAP!

If you have ever visited BeachGrit, even once, you will know how fond we are the of the Bielmanns. Brian and his nephew Brent are masters of the surf photography game. Living treasures.

I interviewed Brian, once. Here’s a snippet:

“I first started shooting water at Pipeline,” he says. “I remember moving out there in 1978. I surfed that Spring and thought, ‘ok next season I am going to be on every single swell!’ I was doing photography at the same time but I’d always say, ‘I’m gonna surf for an hour and then shoot. I’d never come in.’ And so winter came around and I paddled out on a bigger day at Rocky Point. I got pitched over and hit my head on the reef…basically almost died…and so I was sitting in the hospital with all these tubes coming out of me and that was it. It was gonna be photography.”

We are all better off for him hitting his head and almost dying and now you can own a piece of his archive! The Gap is doing a six shirt capsule featuring the Bielmann’s art that launches tomorrow May 23!

“The Bielmanns capture the spirit of surfing like no other photographer,” says John Caruso, vice president of men’s design at Gap. “Whether it’s the rush of catching the perfect wave or the peacefulness of being at one with the water, their images spark the kind of summer memories that we’re thrilled to celebrate in Gap’s collection of exclusive Ts.”

Brian says, “The best part is seeing my photos viewed by a much larger audience and I think a T-shirt is a great way to make a statement. Our surfing world is so small, comparatively, and there are a lot of people who don’t surf but still find the ocean fascinating, and that’s who I want to connect with.”

I say, “Gimme.” And also, “Thank you Gap for recognizing real, core talent and thank you for leaving Aaron Chang on the sideline.”

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Boozy surf comp saves marriage!

The noted Rory Parker's wife pushes him to the brink!

Every weekend morning I try to wake up an hour or two before my wife. Get my daily writing duty done before she’s up and moving. I get cranky when I’m staring at an open office doc, trying to think of words, and someone keeps interrupting my train of thought.

Usually not a problem. She keeps insane hours during the week. Heads to work at 4am because she’s

“more productive” before the sun rises. Goes to sleep around 8pm. Keeps farmer hours. It’s fucking bonkers.

She went out with friends last night, rolled into the house like a drunken hurricane. Passed out snoring on the couch after spending an hour ranting about how good the sushi is at Masa’s (it’s okay).

So I had a leisurely wake-up today. Figured she’d be bedridden until noon-ish.

She must have a stash of crank hidden away somewhere because she followed me out of bed chipper and chirping. Jabbering away at me like an angry squirrel.

Rewatched last week’s episode of Game of Thrones for the fourth time. Informed me of the myriad ways the show has departed from the book. Did you know that George Martin has stated that Daenerys Targaryen…

…isn’t supposed to be immune to fire? The dragon egg hatching scene was a one-off magic moment. Which makes last week’s fiery titty display totally unrealistic. And there’s speculation among the super nerds that Tyrion Lannister is the bastard son of the mad king which makes him a secret Targaryen, or something. So he’s gonna ride dragons. She’s very excited about it.

I hate that fucking show so much. The books were okay, and so were the first few seasons. But after a million forced views I’m one hundred percent over it. Not the wife, though. She studies this shit like it’s the goddamn Koran. Calls it “fandom.” Says it’s okay because a million obsessed dorks online feel the same way.

Now she’s got Spaceballs blasting at full volume. Driving me to distraction. She’s not even watching it. Just playing on her tablet while it roars in the background.

I’m either gonna lose my shit at her or just give up and throw out a lay-up. In the interest of marital peace I’m choosing the latter.

Kyle Thiermann has been wringing some amusing stuff from his trip down to Mex. Last month we got to watch him get beaten to within an inch of his life on a foamie.

This week it’s a boozy fins free surf comp in overhead storm chop. A bright point in a day that’s going down hill fast.

Need to go hide and do some breathing exercises. Calm down, don’t freak out. Definitely don’t heave this lukewarm cup of coffee in her face and remind her that I wish she were my size so I could challenge her to a fight.

Just in: Laird to live forever!

Laird Hamilton reveals his 10-point plan for eternal life here!

Students of history will fondly recall Richard “Dick” Nixon, if not for his near satanic obsession with power then for his near satanic obsession with power. Such comedy! Who could ever forget his “last” news conference? After losing California’s gubernatorial race, 7 years before being elected President, he let the sour grapes loose, sat down before the press corp and attacked them for fifteen minutes before ending, famously, with the line, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

It literally does not get funnier. And the day he died, in 1994, was sad because it became less funny to make fun of him though Hunter S. Thompson tried, writing:

Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.

Alright but not his best work. The foil needs to be alive for it to really pop. In any case, I was very much dreading the day Laird Hamilton dies because I feel he is the greatest punching bag the surf world has ever known. From Strapped to the hydrofoil to GolfBort the hilarious train just don’t stop!

So you could imagine my glorious astonishment when I read today that he is not, in fact, going to die. He is going to live forever!

And through reading today’s The Los Angeles Times’ story Surfing Icon Laird Hamilton Shares his 10-Point Plan to Live Forever maybe you and I can make fun forever too! Let’s tuck in:

Perpetual youth is a whimsical notion suited to screen writers and 16th century Spanish explorers but a career requirement for Laird Hamilton. In the ocean as many as five hours most days, the inventor of tow-in big-wave surfing, modern-day stand-up paddleboarding and hydrofoil surfing uses a unique diet and training regimen to maintain a chiseled fitness that astonishingly belies his 51 years.

Here, the father of three explains why he hasn’t had a drop of alcohol in a decade, heartily devours fat, hangs upside-down with regularity, pals around with an 83-year-old for inspiration — and keeps searching for the Next Big Thing.

1. Forget age. Just keep driving the car: I take better care of myself today not as an accommodation to age but to maintain continual high levels of performance and just to feel good. I have a friend, Don Wildman, who’s 83 years old — and the guy’s an absolute stud who works out with weights, mountain bikes, paddles, surfs every day. Don’s a living example of what it’s like when you just keep driving the car.

2. Take care of everyday priorities: The stuff you do every day — your sheets and towels, the food you put in your body — these are your priorities. Not a fancy car or fancy clothes or fancy watches. For instance, I used to drink red wine every day — nothing like a good Bordeaux — but haven’t had a sip of wine or beer in nine years and have no desire to. I realized that sugar is not good for your body and that alcohol is one of the biggest culprits.

The fact is that alcohol doesn’t taste good anyway. The reason people drink is to have some sort of sensation, right? So if you’re not into that sensation, it’s a waste of time. It’s a discipline thing too. My mom once said to me, ‘If you can’t be true to yourself, you can’t be true to anyone else.’ As proof to myself that I had the willpower, I don’t do it. Bottom line: If you want your rocket to fly, you put rocket fuel in it. I want to be able to do certain things at a certain level. I like the way I feel. On a daily basis, I feel better not drinking.


Uh oh…. I’m out. You can hit 3-10 here though and carry the baton for the both of us. To infinity and beyond!