Stab Magazine | Ian Walsh And The Biggest Tube Ever Ridden In Competition

Ian Walsh And The Biggest Tube Ever Ridden In Competition

“I don’t really remember thinking that I was packing a closeout. I remember, like, pulling into that thing with everything I have and every intention to try to make it.”

news // Dec 26, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Confounding initially dismal expectations, this year’s Pe’ahi Challenge delivered phenomenal surf and perfect conditions. The surfers continued to push the envelope of what’s considered possible in the realm of paddle-in surfing, none more so than Ian Walsh. 

In his semifinal heat Walsh threaded his way through what was undoubtedly, whether he’s willing to admit it or not, the largest barrel ever ridden in competition. 

Stab: Were you in Nazare before the event? Did you have to make the across-the-world trek?

Ian: No across the world trek for me. That was kind of by design. I October and early November I don’t really venture away from Hawaii unless it’s absolutely necessary. That’s mostly to prepare for winter. That put me in a good place to be on Maui before the contest started, not dealing with a bunch of logistics.

I was on the cliff watching and I thought, with your big barrel, there was no fucking way you were going to make it. When you were paddling in, was it a hail mary, hoping-for-the-best, or were you fairly certain it was going to stay open?

From what I remember it to be, I definitely thought the wave had the opportunity to be made. It didn’t look like an absolute closeout. It did look like it had a bigger wall than most waves I ever remember riding at Jaws and it did look like it was going to run really quick. But it looked like it was about to load up and double up, a lot, so I thought it might just hang on the reef enough to give you a little bit of time to generate some speed and rhythm through the barrel. But my first glance at it, it really stood up out the back and was stretching across the reef at a really good angle. I don’t really remember thinking that I was packing a closeout. I remember, like, pulling into that thing with everything I have and every intention to try to make it.

I’ve had a few guys tell me that they don’t remember almost any of their bigger waves. Do you remember the barrel, can you picture it in your mind?

Sometimes… that’s true for a lot of cases. Like you don’t remember some little things, but I remember pieces of it. For me, like, I remember most of that wave pretty vividly. I guess the biggest thing I remember is, just before I pulled in, like, kind of setting my edge and having my feet dig into the wax and, like, really trying to push as hard as I could, to get as much speed as I could off that initial line. And while I was doing that, what I remember probably the most about everything else, is trying to time my entrance into that first section of the barrel where that would give me a little bit of rhythm to kind of pump. Almost like you’re setting up a barrel at Backdoor, or something. Like you’re trying to time when you get in there. At the right time that’ll give you a good rhythm to go with the flow of the wave, to generate more speed once you’re inside of it.

So I do remember quite a bit. But the weirdest thing I think about big waves, and really good waves in general, is that ,for me, personally, it’s just completely silent. I don’t know if it’s like that for other guys. I can remember feeling things and seeing things, but I don’t really remember hearing things. Ever.

How’d you celebrate that night?

We definitely had a good night at my house. It was a good little pre-Halloween party. The contested ended on a good day of the week and that was, yeah… that was a good night. 

My brothers definitely helped coordinate a really, really, entertaining evening. Basically just tore apart my house with about four hundred people.

Was it the best wave ever ridden in competition?

Oh, I have no idea about that. There’s been some incredible waves. That’s not for me to say.

You should never be speaking on your own waves about that kind of stuff.

It’s gotta be the biggest barrel though, right? I know you’ve seen video clips of it. It’s not like me surfing where I’m like, “That turn felt so good! I’m so glad that there’s no footage of it to show me the reality.”

I’m not gonna compare it to any other waves. Just, for me, personally, that was, you know, a once in a lifetime wave. I’m not gonna be the one to say anything about it other than that I was really grateful that I had a chance to catch a wave like that.

I’ve had a lot of waves close out and I was very happy that one stayed open.

Any big plans for the coming year?

Chase some swells. I definitely want to put in a little more time at Mavericks and I’m psyched to do the Volcom contest at Pipe and I have a few projects I’m kind of in the mix of, to do some exploration next summer.

In the immediate, get ready for Christmas and have a nice wild night on New Year’s eve, somewhere around the world.

Maui doesn’t exactly blow up on New Year’s, right? Kauai’s dead asleep by ten.

No, Maui definitely doesn’t blow up. But, I don’t know, I trying to debate what I’m gonna do. Maybe blow up something here or, I don’t know, go camping somewhere. Or, I don’t know, do something different.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Yes And Welcome Back: The First Day Of Female CT Competition At Teahupo’o Since Melanie Redman-Carr Was Taking Scalps In ’06

Carissa Moore is now two heats away from her 6th World Title, btw.

Aug 17, 2022

“Airlines Hate Me:” Bad Boy RyRy’s Guide To Surf Travel

Want to get pampered at the pointy end of the plane for free?

Aug 17, 2022


What Happens When You Borrow A Pro’s Board?

Joyride: The Shrizz from PANDA surfboards.

Aug 16, 2022


Mick Fanning Samples California’s Finest Local Produce

Mayhem at Lowers.

Aug 16, 2022

Mountains Died So You Could Surf

The value of sand.

Aug 15, 2022


UPDATE: People Are Still Surfing ‘La Jetee’ in Reunion Island

Returning to the best & sharkiest air wave in the world, as seen in Mod…

Aug 14, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Female) Surfers

What the Stab reader survey teaches us about taste.

Aug 14, 2022


Kelly and Local Gal to Win Teahupo’o?

Local insights and a firing forecast.

Aug 13, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Male) Surfers

Insights from the 2022 Stab Reader survey.

Aug 13, 2022


Fear And Loathing in Mainland Mex

Parker Coffin, Harry Roach, and the Roark crew embark on an authentic Oaxacan (surf) trip.

Aug 13, 2022

Tahiti Preview: The End Of The Road For 72% Of The CT

And hello there, blob of swell.

Aug 12, 2022


While Everyone Flocked To Tahiti, Kelly Stayed in Jbay

...And proceeded to rip the hell out of it on a "borrowed" 5-finned Tomo.

Aug 11, 2022


Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022

The Tragic Parallels Between The Murder Of Ricardo Dos Santos & 8x World Jiu Jitsu Champion Leandro Lo

Two Brazilian sporting icons killed brazenly by off-duty police officers.

Aug 9, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: In The Belly Of The Beast

Finger flips, shaping with Zion Wright, slurpees, Hawaiian takeovers, and the king of Surfline rewinds.

Aug 8, 2022