Stab Magazine | Asher Pacey On 'Nearly Dying' In Fiji
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Asher Pacey On ‘Nearly Dying’ In Fiji

The twin-fin ascetic down plays his sudden illness that had others fearing for his life.  

news // Oct 29, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ten days sailing upon a catamaran isn’t easily spliced into a sub-10-minute edit. And when it is, like Vonu’s amalgamation above, it usually leaves out juicy, yet adjacent details. 

Before Vonu released the film, I spoke to Saxon Gallaher, the project director, about what went down on the boat. Aside from ‘getting tubed’, ‘drinking warm beers’, and ‘eating tinned food’, Sax told me about an incident where he ‘thought Asher Pacey was going to die’.

Of course, Asher didn’t die – or you would’ve heard about it. Nevertheless, near death is worthy of a phone call. So we dialled up AP to get his take on nearly crossing to the other side. 

Sax warned me that “AP will never admit how heavy it was. He’s so fucking tough he probably thinks it wasn’t heavy at all” and after speaking with Asher that was evidently the case. 

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Waves aren’t the only alluring aspect of the Fijian Archipelago

Photography

Vonu

“I was more freaked out by the other guys and their reactions.” Asher told Stab regarding his mystery illness. “I got this gnarly chill all of a sudden on the longboat and we were in a remote area. The boys had to trek it to a village to try and find fuel.”

What Asher had wasn’t sea-sickness, food poisoning, fatigue, or plain sick of sleeping with ten other blokes either. Even now it remains a mystery illness, one which had Asher “shivering and shaking uncontrollably.”

The boys were kind of freaking out on me a little bit. At one stage I heard Sax say, ‘make sure he stays conscious’ which tripped me out. I think that’s what he thought [that I was gonna die] but I made it through [laughs]”  

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Thankfully AP was back to backhand whacks a few days later.

Photography

Vonu

“The boys put all their jackets and towels on top of me and sort of patted my back to keep me warm. It was enough to get through.” 

Even after some prompting, and quoting Sax’s claims of ‘nearly dying’, Asher ensured us it wasn’t a big deal. “I don’t really know what it was, I felt a bit fatigued the next day but it came on really quick at the start. It didn’t hang around.”

While everyone aboard confirmed that Asher was ‘fine’ the next day, it was clear he played down the incident itself. 

In addition to throwing a few towels on Asher, they also put him in a dry wetsuit one of the boys had with them. Asher was so unresponsive though that they had to contort his arms and shoulders to get him zipped up in the suit.

“It was a fucking wig out.” Saxon told Stab. Seriously hypothermic. [He was] Unable to talk and shivering so profusely to the point that just staying inside the small boat was difficult.

“At the height of the chaos there was talk of getting a chopper for immediate med-evac.”

And while a rescue chopper proved unnecessary, the only reason one wasn’t called was because the radio was left on the main boat. A fortunate mistake in hindsight, but one which would’ve being costly had Asher’s condition not quickly improved.  

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The longboat…

Photography

Vonu

Aside from getting sick, scoring waves was also another worry on the trip. Similar to the film, the trip was backloaded with waves. “We didn’t get much surf at all the first half of the trip. We got back to Cloudbreak and got a few little windows at the end, but it wasn’t pumping the whole time” Asher said.

Checking a spot wasn’t as simple as a quick trip around the corner. Checking somewhere was a half-day commitment, and in this trip’s case, often resulted in zilch. A few novelties here and there, and reportedly a few sessions where the ‘fun’ didn’t translate to film, but many hours were wasted assessing what turned out to be one-foot slop. And while sailing to a spot always trumps driving there, it’s a tough tin to skull when the purpose and pay-check of your trip depends upon ‘surfing’.

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Fatigues antidote – Cloudbreak

Photography

Vonu

“Time was something pretty precious. We had to try and make the best of the conditions because we didn’t have much time in between waves but there was nothing really on offer.” Asher continued. “The legs on the motors aren’t very deep either, so they were popping out of the water too when you hit swell. We were poking along at 3-4 knots max when we were relying on the motors.”

But as negative as a trip can sound from a few quotes, Asher assured it “left a pretty special mark [on everyone], especially going to Matuku.” The locals are great, camaraderie on the vessel was high, and a fuck tonne of beers were drank despite a few issues in keeping them cool.

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Asher Pacey in black and white, but alive.

Photography

Vonu

The foundations of a surf trip are unsurprisingly the surf itself, but the surrounding factors are what distinguish one trip from another. Pumping waves won’t sweeten a week long stint with a pack of fuckwits, but a week off the grid travelling relatively unknown spots can turn what appears to be ‘getting skunked’ into an unforgettable occasion. 

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