Did Mark Mathews just paddle the biggest wave of all time?

by stab March 08, 2016 4 min read

Words by Morgan Williamson 

We’ll be talking about yesterday’s event at Pe’ahi for a long time. It set a new bar for big wave surfing, and was possibly one of the biggest days ever paddled at Jaws. You’ve watched the comp, the highlights, the recap at least twice and probably more. You’ll recall Mark Mathews in the free surf, being the absolute maniac that he is, heaving himself down a mountain of a wave, which in turn separated his shoulder. “That was one of the biggest and heaviest waves ever paddled,” Shane Dorian told me earlier today. When I asked if it was the biggest ever he just laughed and said, “I didn’t have my measuring tape out.” So, I had little chat with Mark while he nursed his wounds and indulged in all the gory details of a wave that’s being called one of the biggest to ever be paddled into at Jaws. Unfortunately for Mr Mathews that monster out of the west packed a blood thirsty bite.

Stab: Hey brother how you holding up?
Mark: I’m pretty sore man. Fuck I haven’t felt that much pain for… I don’t know how long, it’s probably the worst one I’ve ever had. My shoulder popped out, then they couldn’t get it back in. They’re saying there’s some fractures, I got to go into an MRI tomorrow. But I’m sure it could have gone way worse.

That may have been the biggest wave ever paddled into at Jaws.
Yeah, I don’t know it was definitely huge but that’s a big claim. I think some of Shane-O’s (Dorian) waves were bigger. I’m stoked that the people are saying that but I don’t want to go that far.

How were you feeling before the event?
I was really disorganized in the morning and had a bit of a shocker. I heard the bouys were off the charts and it was going to be huge. I had to drive 45 minutes to where I thought my 10’ 6” was. I picked it up but it had no fins and wasn’t waxed or anything. I had to find some fins and finally waxed the board up. I was getting ready to run down the hill when I realised the board I picked up was a 9’ 8”. I had my 10 foot mavs board in my car so I ended up riding that. I rushed out really late, jumped off the rocks and knocked my side fin loose. When I got out the back I saw Shane-O get that really good one. The comp was about to start and I was waiting for a big north one to come, but a big west one came instead. I didn’t want to have to paddle in, so I just put my head down and went. It was a nightmare, a fucking hopeless morning.

Mark Mathew injury

In the words of Mr Mathews, here’s the elephant arm.

Christ, what went wrong on that demon?
It was one of those waves that I knew was big because it feathered a bit on the back ledge. Since I was on a smaller board I couldn’t quite get into it. With all the wind I just got held up at the lip, but I saw Shane make the craziest one right before that, so I had to go. My board kind of caught a little bit down the face, but I made it. Then I remember seeing out of the corner of my eye that I was way too deep. I dove, I didn’t want to take the lip to the back and my arm got stuck in the wave. It just ripped my shoulder right out. Luckily I had my vest fairly inflated but not fully. I didn’t pull it right away because I was trying to hold my arm. It rolled me really deep, I wasn’t coming up so I pulled the chord and inflated the vest.

That’s hectic, how long were you down there?
I don’t know, a while. I came up just before the next wave broke on my head. The Jetski came, I tried to hold on but it was so painful, it almost made me faint. So I had to cop another white wash and it pushed me into the channel. I finally got on the sled and Greg Long was holding my arm in place. I was in so much pain. Fuck it hurt so bad.

Hope you heal up soon man, that was a pretty epic event, hey?
Yeah, the event was nuts. The replays were so good to watch, the whole production was sick. I had planned to paddle out at first light and some of the sets that were coming through in the morning as the swell peaked where way bigger than anything we saw in the contest or the freesurf… monsters. I don’t know what would’ve happened if we were out there earlier.

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