Words by Jake Howard
General consensus suggests that last Friday’s Jaws session ranks right up there as one of the best in big-wave history (note: there’s a potentially bigger swell setting up for next week). By now you’ve seen Aaron Gold and Pedro Calado’s waves and heard all the hyperbole, but as with most things, the devil’s in the details. Part of what made the day so memorable was of course the rides, but there were also a lot of subplots during those critical few hours. Now, after hearing some wonderful stories, these six footnotes seem, well, sorta historical:
1. Aaron and Pedro Say No To The Chord
Neither Aaron Gold or Pedro Calado pulled the chords of their inflatable rescue vests after getting obliterated on their respective waves. Aaron calls a dependency on the flotation device “lazy,” reckoning if you get yourself into this mess, you sure as shit better be able to get yourself out of it. Pedro reportedly didn’t hit the panic button either, preferring to surface au naturale. Not to say there’s not a time and place (of course there is!), but it takes some serious stones not to pull the ripcord.
2. Ski Drivers Get Temporarily Sidelined
Again, Aaron and Pedro proved their old school, hardcore waterman vibes when rescue skis came to pick them up and both opted to wave the skis off and paddle back out under their own power. That’s some bare-knuckle ocean wrangling right there.
3. Kai Lenny Wears It
On one wave Kai Lenny took donuts and got shoved all the way to the bottom. Standing on the reef, he later recounted it was like he was doing squats underwater as the ocean compressed on top of him. He was wearing the whole Pacific on his shoulders. Capable of withstanding 40- to 50-second wipeouts with gas still in his tank, Kai shrugged off the pinning and got back out there.
4. Greg Long Returns A Favour
In December 2012 Greg Long almost drowned at Cortes Bank and it was DK Walsh that was one of the first to get to his body and pull him out of the water. This Friday at Jaws, Greg got a chance to pay it forward when DK went down hard. Fearing that DK had suffered injury to his neck and back, Greg was one of the first on the scene and helped stabilise him. When you hear about big-wave surfing being a brotherhood, this is exactly what people mean.
5. Shane Dorian Knows His Limits
How do you know when the session’s over? When you’re puking your guts out is a pretty good indicator. After amazing the world yet again with an impossible drop that saw him disappear into a cauldron of whitewater before eventually reemerging, late in the afternoon Shane Dorian was sitting out the back trying to reconcile with a body that wasn’t happy with him. Reportedly he noted that if he caught another wave and went down, he was afraid he wouldn’t make it back up. He was done for the day. Absolutely no shame in that.
6. Even Mark Healey Gets Scared
Because the day wouldn’t be complete without Mark Healey getting into some Chuck Norris shit, before sundown, after the lineup emptied and he was left alone with his thoughts, while waiting for just one more wave… a large shark popped up next to him. With a set coming it lurked right in his take-off spot, annoying our freckled hero to the point where he flagged down his ski and made tracks. As Kenny Rodgers points out, “You gotta know when to walk away.”