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Lately, it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns for most of the surf community. The Maui fires and the passing of our friend Mikala Jones have dealt heavy blows to morale. Also, many of my friends in the surf “industry” aren’t sure if they’ll have jobs soon as companies consolidate and downsize. Despite these challenges, I’ve never been more proud to be a surfer. It’s incredible how many of us worldwide stepped up to help Maui. This made me think of the shaka’s global ubiquity and how paddle-outs are becoming more popular around the planet to honor those we’ve lost. As upheaval spreads among humanity, many people gravitate toward traditions from Hawaii’s small surfing community. We always knew our culture was special, but these validations still pleasantly surprised me. I’m on a plane to Utah to bow hunt for elk as I write this. This is probably my last hurrah before a much-needed El Niño winter. Hopefully, I’ll return to the North Shore with 200 pounds of organic protein.
To put it simply, this is a documentary film about freediving. I’ve tried to explain freediving to friends for as long as I can remember, and I end up sounding like an asshole until they try it for themselves. This film does a good job of giving people a taste without getting their gills wet.
2023 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational
This photo was taken during my second heat of the 2023 Eddie, around 2 p.m. It was the most consistent, big, clean Waimea I’ve ever seen. Absolute bliss. I realized I should’ve done one more paddle as soon as I stood up because the waves were slabbing out hard. I watched the bottom drop out from under me. That’s when you have to make a critical choice about weight distribution. You can lean back a little bit to help keep your nose out, but your likelihood of continuing to fall back when you reconnect with the wave is higher. That’s a much “better” way to fall than going over the handlebars. The riskier bet is to lean forward. The waves were moving so fast that day that they’d pass you up when you reconnected if you weren’t fully committed with your weight forward. I opted for a full commitment on this one, which paid off. I actually made this wave. It was among my highest scores and got me 3rd place in the event.
Brian Keaulana got me into stunt work, and we’ve been “working” together on all kinds of paid and unpaid projects since. Besides my father, he’s been a true mentor, and I respect him immensely. In this line of work, you often get called by stunt coordinators who ask if you’re in or out without providing any details about the stunt or dates. It’s an all-or-nothing environment. One day, BK called me for a job. He said the client needed somebody with “really big balls.” I said, “Yes.” BK usually doesn’t pitch jobs like that—which should have been my cue that he was fucking with me. The job involved me being butt-ass naked while freediving with a Russian woman who holds freediving world records. BK also hired our friends Don King, Larry Haynes, and BK Ramsey as filmers and water safety. I’m not sure what was more nerve-racking: having my legendary friends staring at my pecker through a camera or being unable to keep up with the freediving champ—who was also naked. People have nightmares about being naked in front of their class. This was way worse because you’re not only nude, but you don’t even have a dive mask—everybody can see every detail in the water, and you can’t! And you have to communicate with each other during the process. Needless to say, I had to push through some psychological boundaries.
40oz. to Freedom by Sublime
This Long Beach, CA, band brought a new sound in the ’90s that authentically meshed rock, punk, reggae, street, and beach cultures for the first time.
I’ve spent my life seeking how myself and others operate when all the chips are on the table. People who can work under extreme psychological and physical distress are fascinating. Even more so if they can juggle a moral compass simultaneously. This book shares the real experiences of the best stealth fighter pilots on earth. These guys have seconds to make the right call. There’s a lot to be learned from their stories.
Maui Nui Venison is providing fresh, healthy protein for people affected by the Maui fires. Now, they’re starting their non-profit arm. I volunteered with the night harvest of Axis deer right after the fires. We worked for three nights and processed over 5,000 pounds of fresh ground venison. All of it was used by those in need immediately. Maui’s recovery is a marathon not a sprint, so they’ll continue to need support. All of the boys who work at Maui Nui Venison have a close connection to the Lahaina community—most call it home. This organization is providing a basic need to victims and it’s not some obtuse, non-profit bullshit. Learn more about the work they’re doing by clicking here.
It’s funny how being a professional surfer most of my life has shaped my view. I’ve always loved surfing, but at that time, I knew I had to gorge on my surfing goals while it was a top priority. Now, it doesn’t matter if I chase giant swells or not. I have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter named Rella, who I love more than anything on Earth. I’ve ticked enough boxes for ten lifetimes. I think that if you don’t fuck up, more things fill your cup in life the older you get. That being said, I love surfing more than ever for its niche. It’s still the best outlet to be me in the most raw form. That last Eddie was one of those times. I’m fortunate to have that outlet and know who I am, devoid of opinions and life experience. It’s joy, gratitude, and beauty.
[Feature image: Mark Healey, Nias, Indonesia. Photo by Ted Grambeau]
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