Of the many attributes separating accomplished surfers from true generational talents, perhaps nothing provides a more obvious level shift than the ability to scale everything way, way up.
We’re not talking about journeys to the death zone, though most XXL chasers can handle themselves with legit form at any size. Of concern for this particular exercise is what happens in the 8- to 12-foot range, using whichever scale you prefer, typically at surfing’s name-brand proving grounds. The everyday approach, only exponentiated. Heavy shit, treated like head-high Lowers. Think Cabell at Hanalei Bay. John John at Margaret River. Occy at Bells. Sunny at Haleiwa. Carissa at Honolua. Andy Irons, well, anywhere he plied his trade.
The hazards of such places at such size—at least for the surfing majority—lie in the need to cover acreage at pace. There’s lots to trip over in big water. For the late AI, preternatural ability, 10,000 hours of elite experience, and a water tank of confidence propelled him into the hall of balls. Seen here at no-joke Cloudbreak, that skill set made the whole dance look easy. A faultless line. Less-is-more body English. Absolute commitment. Precision handling. It’s performance, sure. But it’s art, too.
Of course, we’d never suggest you order a gun and high-tail it straight from hunting corners at your local beachbreak to swinging blindly at the West Bowl. But know that when the buoys start bouncing, you’ll want to check your levels if you have designs on looking relaxed at size.
[Feature image by Brian Bielmann]