Anthony Walsh earns a fine living chasing go-behind tubes!
There are two reasons why Anthony Paul Walsh impresses the hell out of me. First, he’ll have a swing at anything that barrels. His caves at Namibia, Pipe, Teahupoo and Mexico are scarcely believable.
Second: through a work ethic that belies his messy sun-wracked hair and gorilla chest and outfits of boxy tees and trunks that disappear the shins, he’s created a career that revolves around snatching point-of-view angles of his, and others’, tubes.
Let’s reminisce a little. Here’s Namibia.
And this, shot with a backpack cam at Teahupoo five years ago with the then revolutionary GoPro Hero3. It was the first time a tube had been captured underwater and above water on the same camera. “That was what was crazy, the focus underwater and above water. I remember, sitting down with Brad Schmidt, watching the footage in a mosquito net in Tahiti, and we yelled so loud, people could hear us next door screaming. Kelly Slater was on that trip too. He didn’t want to use the backpack mount and that night we showed him the footage and he said, ‘Ok, you gotta set it up for me now!’ The next day the swell died, and he never got a good shot.” Images pulled from the sequence became GoPro billboards worldwide, including at Los Angeles International Airport.
Even better, ever since he started shooting point of view in 2007 because no photographers lived in his home town and him and his brother wanted to get shots for their sponsors, he’s made himself one of the few experts in the game. Brian Coneley, the American surfer whose lipstick cam and hand-held camera barrel shots redefined the POV game with his movies My Eyes Won’t Dry (1, 2 and 3), is the pioneer of the genre, and it was Coneley’s work that convinced Walsh to build his own water housings. He would run a cable from the housing, to his hand and tape it to his finger to fire the camera.
But from GoPro 3 onwards, Walsh, who is thirty-three and a veteran of seventeen Hawaiian winters where he now lives, became GoPro’s star Research and Development guy and an essential ingredient in surf trips involving the company’s surfers. On BeachGrit‘s little run down to mainland Mexico to accelerate the progression of women’ surfing by ten years in four days, he was a magic show of Gimbals, drones, virtual reality and GoPro5’s.
What the rest of the freakshow don’t catch, he gets. He’ll surf behind, above, get tubed, whatever it takes.
“It’s so funny,” he says when we talk about the absurdity of a job that requires him to monitor swell forecasts and to find places to get tubed. “I sit there when I’m on on my surf trips, and I’ve got a GoPro on, and I just laugh to myself. I get to go where I want to go, when I want to go and get barrelled. It’s as fantastic as it is ridiculous.”