There has been a massive push by the media to highlight big wave surfing and slab surfing, which inturn has stimulated a demand/need for more surfers to step forward and take the plunge so to speak.
Pretty images of waves on their best behaviour are displayed on facebook pages and always on view in surf mags and websites which is great, but, unfortunately they have started naming spots and giving information on them mostly for financial gain of course ie to rent out their properties, sell mags etc etc
I have recently read two awesome articles in the last few weeks, both posted by long time, hard core Gower surfer Mike Maunder which address the subject of risk and big waves.
Here they are:
Link 2 was written by Greg Long a highly trained and experienced big wave surfer, he survived the Cortes banks hold down event because of his personal training regime and the team surrounding him. Think about that one, the team support saved his life. Compare this with link 1's story and ask yourself who is taking the biggest risk?
Many hardore old skool surfers would say, 'once you jump into the ocean you are on your own anyway..' or the late great Mark Foo RIP, said, 'to experience the ultimate thrill you must be prepared too pay the ultimate price..'
One of my surfing heroes, Mr Ken Bradshaw once stated when interviewed about wipeouts in big waves..' it's not about surviving, I know I am going to survive, it's all about reacting the best possible way to deal with the situation that I am in..'
With all this in mind, do you still want to ride big waves? Well here is a 10 point plan if so.
1) Don't do it, opt for chop hopping instead
2) Buddy up, or create a small network of guys that want to charge and train with you.
3) Take a Beach lifeguard course.
4) Train hard, include sea swimming in rough conditions.
5) Equipment, fine tune it to what works in specific conditions, watch the big wave events on webcasts and listen to the competitors talking about their equipment choices.
6) Talk to the older guys, try to log as much info on 'what if scenarios'
7) Get a mentor who can help hold your hand on the first few years of big wave hunting.
8) Learn about the spots you want to surf, small details like getting in and out, what if I lose my board? Nearest hospital, how do I get in if the usual spot is maxed out?
9) Diet and drinking, with the forecasting info available now we know anything up to 10/14 days in advance of XXL conditions somewhere on the planet, if your going to attempt it then ensure you cut out binge drinking and focus on food sources that will ensure you are tip top for the big event, just in case the worst happens.
10) There are loads more points, but you are probably bored by now or just thinking that this old guy is trying to scare me etc etc if so return to top tip 1 chop hop instead it is safer!
Anyway, 'fools rush where Angels fear to tread..' see you out the back in 2013 a big Aloha, Mahalo to all my surf buddies including Mr Mike Campbell AKA 'The Coach' for being a fantastic mentor over the last 6 or so winters on danger island.
p.s have to tell you this little gem quickly.. the other day I was surfing the jewel it was packed, due to Xmas break, & the pimping of the spot. It was small (dangerous combo) and I watched a female Euro surf start paddling around the line up like she was in a soft beach break in France AKA (a water spider).. anyway, I thought long and hard about it and finally said to her, I advise you not to paddle for the first wave of the sets, leave that to the crazy people... she looked at me and said, But, I am crazy!!
Yep, WTF do I know, should have kept my mouth shut, instead of parting with a tip that may save her from a smashing or worse... What would you have done?
Pic above: me happy to be back on dry land with a part of my beloved Bonzer 5 shaped by Malcom Campbell.. I had a few beers that arvo I can tell you :))