Shane invited me to go to Tahiti a few years ago but instead of Teahupoo, he wanted to paddle The Right. When we got there it was a glassy morning—ten to 12 feet, really fun, really nice paddle waves, just Shane and I out. And we traded waves for about two hours. Then out of nowhere, I kicked out of one and there’s an 18-foot rogue coming out of the depths. And there was nothing that day close to anything like this.
So I’m watching it and Shane is stroking up the face and I think he’s just going to paddle over the thing. But then two-thirds of the way up, he just spins and goes. It was kind of a sideways takeoff and his board wasn’t tracking and then the rail grabbed about halfway down. And that’s when the wave threw out.
As he bottom turned, it was surreal how big this thing was. So he pulls into this monster and gets eaten alive and it was by far the biggest tube I’ve ever seen anyone pull into. I remember looking in at him, paddling over it as hard as I could. And then it swallowed him and he disappeared and was under for a little while.
Afterward, he popped up screaming, just out of his mind. We both couldn’t believe how heavy that wave was. Shane has been touted as the best big wave surfer ever and I definitely witnessed firsthand why. I don’t know if anyone would have whipped it in that position, under the lip, partway up the face, and made that decision, other than him.