While most sixteen year olds in Scotland are swilling Buckie and tanning windows, or sitting in their bedrooms crying, Ben Larg is taking Nazaré bombs on the head and getting amongst it.
And all with zero fanfare.
To understand what Ben’s doing requires a little context.
He’s already ridden giant Mullaghmore in Ireland when he was just fourteen, as well as several other legit European heavy water spots.
Yet he comes from a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland with no notable surf scene.
The island of Tiree is a pancake flat dot in the Inner Hebrides. It has a population of only 650 people and is roughly ten miles long and five miles wide.
There’s a beachbreak for almost every swell and wind direction, but the latter is so consistent and strong (with no trees or hills to interrupt it) that the island has traditionally been a haven for windsurfers and kitesurfers.
These days it’s a bit of a winter graveyard of holiday rentals, populated in the summer by bankers from Glasgow who took up surfing during lockdown. When I was there recently it was overrun by fifty-somethings in Teslas with mini-mals strapped to the roof.
SUPs and paunches were also popular.
But from the unlikely sands of (middling beachbreak) Balevullin, where his family’s shack on the beach provides surf lessons to the progeny of Scotland’s suburban go-getters on summer staycations, Ben Larg is rising.
(To be fair, it’s not all pishing rain and gales for days. Ben follows the swallows south towards Africa around November, spending the last few winters in Lanzarote.)
He tackled Nazare a few days ago on boards borrowed from Nick Von Rupp, his unofficial chaperone into the line-up. The two met when Von Rupp was in Scotland recently (YouTubing it to death) and enlisted Ben and his ski to whip him into a heavy slab up North.
They kept in touch and it wasn’t long before Ben got a call to see if he fancied tackling arguably the most famous big wave spot in the world.
Or at least the one that has captured most mainstream attention for the cartoon-ish images of waves against the context of the lighthouse and viewing area on the cliff.
“It was like a football stadium or something,”Ben says. “You can hear everybody cheering when you’re getting waves, and when you’re getting worked!”
I ask him if he took any heavy ones. “I took the biggest set of the day on the head when I was paddling,” he says. “It’s a really heavy wave, you’re under the water for a long time. But I’ve got a good mindset, I stay quite calm.”
Ben wears a float vest and I wondered how many times he’d pulled it, expecting at least once or twice, but I’m surprised by his answer.
“I’ve never ever pulled it, I like to save up the canisters,” he laughs. “It’s kind of a goal of mine. I’ve not done it yet, so I said to myself I wasn’t going to do it at Nazaré and I didn’t.”
I’m struck by the composure of a sixteen year old taking on some of the world’s most iconic big waves. Early in our conversation it’s clear that Ben Larg is cut from a different cloth.
There’s no bravado, no bullshit.
He seems naturally self-effacing.
“I don’t know if I’m a big wave surfer yet,” he says at one point when I’ve referred to him as such.
He spent a lot of the sessions at Nazaré doing safety on the ski for Von Rupp and others, as well as paddling and towing several waves of his own.
It seems a heavy load for someone so young, not just dealing with your own waves, but looking out for other, more experienced surfers you’ve only just met.
“It’s a super sketchy place to drive the ski on the inside there,” Ben told me. “Hardest place I’ve ever driven.”
But this seems all part of the experience for him, and working with the skis is part of it.
“I just love surfing big waves. I love driving the skis and stuff, I’ve always been a massive motorhead. I’ve ridden motorbikes my whole life.”
He was surprised by how busy it was with skis buzzing around and roughly twelve tow teams.
“My paddle waves were good waves, but I never got the proper set waves I wanted. Natxo Gonzalez was on the bombs. I want to paddle it bigger,” he says.
Ben has aspirations of being a big-wave surfer, but doesn’t seem comfortable with the self-promotion that’s arguably necessary to make it.
His Instagram account is quiet.There’s roughly one post a month and sometimes months on end of nothing.
“I hate to talk myself up,” he says. “I’m super inactive on social media, but after staying with Nick (Von Rupp) he says I have to do it.”
It’s an admirable approach, and a pretty remarkable outlier as far as teenagers go, nevermind teenagers pushing limits in heavy surf.
He’ll probably be forced to amp up his online game if he wants to get noticed and keep sponsors happy, but I would hope some brands might recognise the long term value in authenticity and simply being out there rather than talking yourself up online.
Walk softly and carry a big stick, as they say.
Stories are always more powerful if you let others tell them for you.
I ask Ben if he realises that he’s ridden the biggest waves ever by a Scottish surfer.
He laughs and says he hasn’t thought about it like that.
“I was stoked just to be the only Scottish guy in the water.”
And his plans for the future?
“Maybe post more than once a year on Instagram…or I could go onto TikTok and flick my hair about a bit.”
Foil king, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s 1400-acre Kauai compound explored in “visually stunning” project that “reflects a broader story of dispossession of Native Hawaiians!”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation from a pale Silicon Valley drone into the world’s 5th richest man and a “foil king” is truly the story of the decade. That famed Caesar haircut, once synonymous with checking out what some kid you knew in high school was cooking for dinner now rests upon a head that has tamed the very seas.
For who doesn’t instantly picture Zuckerberg floating above the waves, foiling, when one pictures him at all?
Beautiful and the Garden Isle of Kauai must be credited as cocoon wherein the Harvard honorary degree holder entered a worm and exited a butterfly.
Zuckerberg famously purchased a nearly 1400-acre compound a few years ago but what does it look like, inside? What is on that precious land?
Well, Business Insider has some answers in “a visually stunning project showcasing the natural beauty that drew Zuckerberg to the island, Tyler Sonnemaker’s story explains how Zuckerberg’s estate there reflects a broader story of the dispossession of Native Hawaiians. Read on for a Q&A with Tyler, and to check out the project, complete with drone footage, illustrations, maps, and audio pronunciations of Hawaiian phrases.”
The piece also explores how Zuckerberg is “going native” on his land by taking up bow hunting and spear throwing.
And of course foiling.
Like King Kamehameha himself.
Bill introduced to Honolulu city council that would effectively ban all surf schools, spring breaker hair braiding operations, other commercial activity from Oahu’s fabled North Shore!
Later, VALs and other such cultural appropriators.
Anyone who has ever traveled somewhere beautiful, fabled even, and coastal has also recognized that beauty attracts like a magnet, beauty sprouts small business and larger businesses, beauty, if left unchecked, will eat beauty like a snake eating its tail.
And it was with this in mind, maybe, that a bill is being introduced to the full Honolulu city council that will effectively ban any surf schools and other commercial activities from Oahu’s fabled North Shore.
Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi brought Bill 34 forward and the percolating frustration about soft top fever percolates through her very words when she says, “So when I went out to Puaʻena Point on an unscheduled site visit, Puaʻena Point was inundated with surf instruction. From point to point in the bay. No room for anything else — just surf instruction. Four different trucks in the parking lot by that area.”
No room for anything else.
Just surf instruction.
Professional surfing contests and commercial filming will be allowed to continue. Surf schools, though, gone. Ummmm hair braiding stands? Gone. Açai igloos? I guess gone? Wedding photography operations? Hopefully disappeared.
Later, VALs and other such cultural appropriators.
Breaking: Hawaiian surf icon and former world #4 fighting for his life in ICU after being attacked at Ala Moana Beach Park! “Hawaii has changed dramatically. Drugs and crime are now everywhere. It’s getting worse… sad!”
The North Shore legend, former world tour shredder and influential surfboard shaper, Reno Abellira, is reportedly fighting for his life after being attacked at the Ala Moana Beach Park.
Reno Abellira was Attack While Sleeping at Ala Moana Beach Park and He as kind of been homeless lately. They are Saying That He’s In A Coma? Please send some prayers to him and if anybody know anything new you can update or leave a comment.
Okay the latest update he is in Queens Hospital In ICU he’s in serious condition but stable but not conscious. As of Sunday 9:15 PM
Abellira, who is seventy-one, has had what you might call a wild, wild life.
His daddy was a middleweight boxer who was shot dead in a Chinatown pool hall where he worked as a “strong arm”; he beat Jeff Hakman at thirty-foot Waimea Bay to win the 1974 Smirnoff (he’d win it again three years later) and his twin-fin design convinced Mark Richards to make a version of it and subsequently dominate the world tour for half a decade.
In 1992, he was indicted, according to a letter to BeachGrit from Reno “for three counts for the Federal crimes of racketeering (the RICO Act) specifically Possession with Intent to distribute of four kilos of Cocaine and over 27 pounds of marijuana that had been control delivered by the U.S Postal Service and D.E.A agents to an address in suburban Honolulu.”