Robbie Maddison on Big Wave Tour VP Gary Linden after failed Todos attempt.
You saw it. In 2014, the Australian motorcycle rider Robbie Maddison rode a KTM250 with skis at Teahupoo. At one point he hit a west bomb, one of those kinky straight-into-the-barrel waves only the best surfers dare challenge. And nearly died. Six waves on the head. Underwater for two. In full moto gear.
Absurd, but beautifully absurd. Whatever your take, dumb, wonderful, you watched it.
Rob, who is thirty six years old, also holds the world record for jumps (three hundred and fifty feet) and once leapt onto the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas and back down onto the strip. A man who knows how to grip a pair of handlebars.
Since Teahupoo, Robbie has spent the last three years working on the idea of lassoing a bomb at either Cloudbreak or Todos Santos. Fiji was out of his one hundred and fifty thousand dollar budget so he went for the Todos, Mex, option.
We wrote about it a few days ago, first, taking one side (story pulled after threat of defamation suit), then jumping on the other side.
Earlier today, I called Rob to run me through his version. He tells me, oowee, it ain’t easy creating these viral events. Teahupoo hit twenty-five million views, sure, but money flows through your fingers on these things. Everything costs and it’s not as if you can just film it on your iPhone.
“Trying to plan and pull it off, it was a fucking nightmare,” he says.
But he did all the meetings in LA with sponsor Samsung (the Samsung Gear S3 watch was used to track the weather, to track speeds, his route, monitor his heart rate – fast) and media partner Vice. He sorted all the permits. Jumped through all the hoops of planning.
Organised directors, film crew, whatever else y’need for the creation of such a wild event. And when the swell hit, and the winds looked good, his crew hit the joint.
But, a storm. The port gets shut down. By the time he gets to the famous deep-water righthander, the swell has dropped significantly, the wind is blowing ruffles. Ten-to-twelve foot has turned into six-ish.
And waiting out the back is the Big Wave Tour VP Mr Gary Linden, from San Diego, and his pal Vincente Ya. Rob says the pair tell him he ain’t catching shit. Today, tomorrow or the next day. That they’ll block any attempts at catching, says he doesn’t have the permits anyway.
“I sat out there for three hours pleading to catch a wave,” says Rob. “I know the mentality of dickhead surfers who carry on like fuckwits… I grew up surfing. I understand about being respectful. I offered to pay ’em. Eventually the government officials came out and told me I could make a citizen’s arrest if I wanted.
“I’m out there doing business and them, in their beach culture shallow-mindedness stood in the way of a cool project,” says Rob, adding he’s caught a grand total of four waves in three years. “I hope this affects Gary’s relationship with the WSL. He’s been a prick about this. Out of line. He doesn’t own the place and he’s just a fucking old school guy that’s afraid of change. These guys are saying no to motorised equipment. I’ve seen video of Gary Linden being towed. He’s a fucking prick… It’s hard to get the right conditions at Todos and it’s not like I didn’t plan it right or wasn’t on top of my shit. I just had this hundreds of thousands of dollars project ruined by two individuals.”
Eventually, towards sunset, Rob announces, “We’re fucking doing it. By then the wind came ups the tide filled in, it just turned to shit. Looked six foot.”
Still, he tries: “It’s so hard to catch a wave on a motorcycle, man. I got the one wave, right on sunset, and to catch a wave you gotta point the bow of the boat directly into the swell. I came down the ramp, and it’s gotta be perfect timing, and the boat was on a bit of a angle, the running ramp didn’t stay true, made me veer right, and I went from flat-out in third gear to a complete stop. Tore my high-tensile steel handlebars off my bike. The imapact was massive.”
“I should’ve run the prick over,” says Rob. “I spent 150 thousand dollars out of my own pocket. Now I’m sitting here realising I would’ve been better off being an electrician these last three years.”
Is he going to do it again? Maybe Cloudbreak, where he says he would’ve been welcomed?
“I want to, but the sour way this ended it may never happen again.”