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Koa Smith’s Namibia wave is the best sand barrel ever ridden

Story by Elliot Struck

Today, Koa Smith and brother Alex dropped a Namibia edit via their production haus,, and the first wave in that edit is the best sand barrel ever ridden. And, the best GoPro wave ever captured, this one on the mouth mount. And one of the top three barrels ever surfed. Before you pick either of those three bones, watch the wave above. It’s an unfathomably long turbine of oil and glass, which Koa aptly describes as Mesmerising. It’s well beyond our microscope, but we felt we had to drop it regardless…

Stab: Is this the best wave you’ve ever ridden?
Koa: F’sure. I got one that was maybe almost as good but not as beautiful. That one was just… mesmerising.

It looks fake. There’s no ripples or water drops… that was my first run that day. It was foggy when I paddled out and I couldn’t see the waves, I could just hear them. I knew it was gonna be good, I just didn’t know how big it'd be, ‘cause the night before it was eight-to-10 feet Hawaiian. So I was kinda sketchy. I paddled out in the fog and got two waves, super glassy but fell on both of them, and then the sun broke through the fog and that wave came in. I actually dropped in on Dylan Goodale, but he was too deep. I couldn’t even believe when I came out of that thing.

How many waves had you ridden at Namibia prior? That was my first trip down there, the second day I was there.

What about big names freaking they missed the swell? The best surfers in the world get anxiety when they miss crazy waves. Ha! I sent Kelly a clip straight away. He was super pissed that he didn’t make it there.

What about John, he loves the Afrikaans! I was in Tahiti with John before I went and he so badly wanted to come along with me. But, he had to go to Fiji and it was flat for the first week he was there and I was sending grabs from where we were and he was soooo pissed off!

Have you ever seen a better barrel than that in a clip? A little arrogance here, please. I haven’t seen a GoPro clip like that before. The conditions and everything were so perfect. I got this clip two months ago, so it was kinda gnarly hiding it. Then Benji Brandt released his clip and I was like, “fuck, do we release it? Nah, let’s just wait.” So I’m just psyched that it’s finally out there.

How big was that wave? Like, a four footer. Enough to stand, with pumping room. I was pumping that entire wave.

How long in real time? I really need to time it again, but I think it was 25 or 27 seconds.

What percentage of the way through it did it become the best wave of your life? I mean, probably three quarters of the way through it was already the best wave of my life, maybe earlier. It was such a safe wave, y’know, nothing too treacherous like surfing Chopes where you could fall and die. It’s just this sand bottom, long barrel, nothing to worry about.

You had to claim it. It looked impulsive. I told myself, I’m not gonna claim any waves today – I always tell myself that, I never claim waves. But I came out of that one, looked in and there was no one on the beach. I was like, did anyone see that? I scanned all the way in to the right and there was this one guy, and he just threw his hands in the air. I was like, “YEAH!” and… I claimed it. That was the best moment I’ve ever had in surfing.

Ever? Yeah, number one. You come out of that and… I was like, that actually happened. It wasn’t one of those moments where you do all that and then only almost make it. It actually happened. I was baffled.

What’d you do afterwards? Well you’ve gotta do runs because of the current and the wave's so long. I came in and went straight to my car, plugged in my GoPro and dropped the clip straight onto the desktop as a backup. I did that every run. Guys were losing their GoPros on, like, every run. A lot of people had it tied to their wetsuit so that they wouldn’t lose it. But I like to be able to move it around and get whatever angle I want. It was super sketchy.

How many did you take with you? I only had one, then my two brothers each had one. Alex ended up losing his. He lost it and Dale Staples found it way down the beach two hours later. At the end of the last day, we were driving back and there was this sunset with a bunch of flamingos. Alex was like, Koa, you’ve gotta bust out your drone and get one last clip. I wasn’t sure cause it was pretty windy. But I put his GoPro on my drone and flew it over the flamingos. It was probably a super sick clip. But as I tried to fly it back, it just got blown out to sea. And that was all his GoPro footage from a whole day, gone.

How many GoPros are sitting at the bottom of Namibia? A lot! Everyone lost one that I was with.

Imagine if you’d lost yours on the wave before that perfect one. What else could I have done but laugh…

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