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So what did you see out there yesterday?
I saw some of the best waves I’ve ever seen in my life. Actually, they were the best waves I’ve ever witnessed. It wasn’t like Teahupoo where it looked evil; it looked like the biggest, most perfect waves you’ve ever seen. It was the kind of day where you could get the barrel of your life and a lot of guys did.
Did you get the barrel of your life?
I wouldn’t say I got the barrel of my life but I got some sizey ones. They weren’t the biggest waves of the day but they were unreal. I didn’t really have the board to compete with the guys on 10’0s”.
What were you seeing when you dropped into those things and looked down the line?
It was like a picture you’d draw at school. It was like a video game, the way it draws off the reef and runs and that tapering wall. It was amazing. Amazing.
How was the morning session?
It was a little bit hard because we were caught between the first ledge and the second ledge. I got a couple but got kinda worked pretty hard, got cleaned up a bunch of times.
How many boards did you go through yesterday?
Four. Four in one day, although hopefully my 6’10” that I lost in the afternoon when my leash popped and the board just disappeared, hopefully it’s still in one piece and someone found it and hands it back. But I think I’m kind of resigned to the fact that it’s gone. I think it must have broke into a million pieces.
What was the biggest board you brought over?
That 6’10”. I wish I had a 7’6” or an 8’0” that I kept here on the island for those kind of days. I mean, I’m not a big-wave surfer but from what I saw yesterday that is the best big-wave in the world to paddle. It lets you in and it stays big and gets bigger and better as the wave goes on, then it lets you out. There’s no other wave like it.
Did you guys get caught on the hop with this swell?
There were a lot of unknowns with this swell. No one knew how big or how good exactly it was going to be. Some were saying three metres at 17 seconds, which would have been 12 foot Cloudbreak. No one thought we’d be surfing 20, 25-foot waves.
Some of the best things you saw yesterday?
Probably [Ian] Walshy’s one. It was a 20-footer and I scratched over it and was looking down into a 20-foot barrel. He disappeared on this big red board into this giant barrel and I think he’s dead. Then the last thing I seen as I went over the top of the wave was just the nose of this big red board appear from inside the mist, so deep inside this giant barrel. I was like, oh my God. Then he made it. And Wassel’s one too, and those waves that no one rode, the one where Healey had to bail his board.
Where were you when they came through?
I’d just lost my board and was on the ski, thank God. But those ones were so far up the reef that everyone was pretty safe… except Healey, I guess.
What was the vibe in the water like yesterday afternoon?
The vibe was unreal. It was sweet. There were a lot of waves out there; it wasn’t like there were just one or two. Everyone got a good one. It was such a good vibe. I’m buzzing off it still now and I only got a couple of medium ones.
Were the big-wave paddle guys tripping out at how good it was?
I think so. I think they were all tripping out.
Should they have run heats? Did you want to surf?
Yes. I would have loved to have surfed my heat. The comp should have been on. I was heat six and may not have even surfed, I might have been last heat of the day maybe, but seriously we should have surfed. Even though guys were undergunned and I only had a 6’10”, I was asking last night why we didn’t take that opportunity. There were some good points for not running, for sure. The big-wave guys were ready for it, they had jackets, boards, they were ready for it and we weren’t. But the bottom line for me was that all the surfers would have had a chance to get the two best waves of their lives in a heat in the best conditions you’ve ever seen. I dunno… would Tom Carroll and Pottz and those guys paddled out? You wouldn’t stop them. I think it’s a huge missed opportunity. Would everyone have stepped up with the whole world watching? We won’t know. I think most of the Hawaiian guys would have been cool with it, if I’d gone up to them and said, “Mate can I borrow one of your 8’0”s? If I break it I buy it.” They’d be sweet. A life jacket? No worries.
The other guys in the field who paddled out late yesterday were thinking the same way?
For sure. The Hobbies, Ace, Mick, the Gudangs all had a dig. John John would have been all over it. The problem was that it was seriously only that good between 2pm and dark. The rest of the day had that wind on it. But I reckon… mate, it would have been the most amazing, amazing surf to run a heat in. And you’ve got the skis there. The skis are there to grab you. You might cop a second or a third wave but they’ll be there. Kai and Jamie are good enough guys to grab you no matter what. To get you out of trouble. They know you’ll be scared for your life and they’ll be there as quick as they can. And if ever you’re going to surf 20-foot barrels that was the day. You should have felt safe enough to really push yourself. But anyway, I’m definitely coming back for a swell with the right board if I get the chance. I just hope I get that chance.
How will yesterday be remembered?
A missed opportunity, I suppose. I was surfing Wilkes when the call was made so I can’t really say what conditions were like when the call was made, I was somewhere else. But you know, in one way I’m glad it didn’t happen, because I got to freesurf all afternoon and had one of the greatest surfs of my life. So I’m stoked for that. You wouldn’t have seen everything you did yesterday if heats had run. You just got one show instead of the other.