Are you not entertained?!
We’ve just experienced the most amazing year of surfing. For some strange reason, more crazy shit was packed into this year than any other before it. It was the year of circus surfing (you heard that here first). Think about it: in 2015, Mick Fanning had a duel with a shark broadcast live to the world, Kelly Slater came out with the wave pool to end all wave pools, Jamie O lit himself on fire and pulled into a few barrels, and Pipeline showed how dangerous it can really be. Robbie Maddison rode a dirtbike at Teahupoo, for Christ’s sake. If that’s not circus surfing, I don’t know what is. But big wave surfing is where things really turned it up a notch–in recent years, the level of skill and commitment has been increasing at a frightening rate. Here are five of the last year’s greatest big wave moments. And of course, feel free to offer the ones we missed in the comments section. Here’s to an even better and more entertaining 2016.
1. Mark Healey’s Puerto Escondido wipeout:
When Mark Healey hopped on the plane to Mexico back in March, he expected to surf some very, very big waves. But it’s hard to imagine that he expected anything close to the wave he actually caught. “The waves were so big they would feather like they were going to break for about two hundred yards,” he said. “From where I had to sit to actually catch a wave, it would look like I was going to get caught inside. I knew all that and had already made my mind up I was going to get one. Next thing I knew I was putting my head down and paddling my ass off. By the time I stood up, I felt like that wave grew another fifteen feet. Meanwhile, I was just hanging on the lip. I’m thinking, ‘alright, I’m probably going to pull into the biggest barrel of my life right now.’”
2. Greg Long’s Peahi Challenge wave:
The Peahi Challenge was the WSL’s first big wave event at Maui’s famed Jaws, and it could not have gone better. The waves were massive, all the best big wave surfers in the world were on hand, and some of the most astonishing surfing ever seen was broadcast live to the world. In the tiny world of competitive surfing broadcasts, a lot of shit needs to line up just right for an exciting viewer experience. In the even tinier world of big wave surfing… well, let’s just say that no one wants to watch an event that consists mainly of tiny little specks floating around for 45 minutes at a time, occasionally catching a big wave. The Peahi Challenge, though… oh, the perfection. Huge, perfect waves rolled through consistently (until the final, of course), an underdog took the trophy, and big wave surfing’s most modest, stoic man found himself in a position to pull into the biggest closeout ever. Of course, Greg Long did it, and he did it with style. “I remember thinking, ‘You’re either dead, and this is heaven, and that’s why nothing hurts, or you got off so easy.’” he said. “That’s the ocean.”
3. Robbie Maddison’s Teahupoo wave
While Robbie Maddison riding a dirtbike at Teahupoo certainly wasn’t surfing, it was fucking spectacular. Spectacularly shitty, spectacularly loud, and spectacularly against what a lot of people surf for, it was a show that everyone watched. While it didn’t involve a surfboard, it was at one of the world’s greatest waves… and it was circus surfing at its finest.
4. Niccolo Porcello’s Teahupoo wipeout
Every now and then, a wipeout gets captured on film that should, in all honesty, kill someone. Such is the case with Niccolo Porcello, the ever-smiling, adrenaline obsessed Italian who went over the falls in the worst kind of way. Back in mid-July, Teahupoo was hammered by a perfect, giant swell, and Niccolo decided he’d give it a go. And while he caught and rode out more than his fair share of behemoth tubes, this wipeout is the one that truly cemented him in 2015’s record books.
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