Stab Magazine | Mark Healey gave John John his first gun
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Mark Healey gave John John his first gun

Words by Morgan Williamson Mr Healey is one of big wave surfing’s finest. A true waterman. The cat tags sharks, free dives, spear fishes professionally and does stunts for Hollywood films in his spare time (Point Break 2). Ten years ago he gifted John John Florence with his first gun. It was the initial spark that led […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Morgan Williamson

Mr Healey is one of big wave surfing’s finest. A true waterman. The cat tags sharks, free dives, spear fishes professionally and does stunts for Hollywood films in his spare time (Point Break 2). Ten years ago he gifted John John Florence with his first gun. It was the initial spark that led to his recent victory at the Eddie Aikau Invitational. Yeah, Mr Florence would have made his way into the bigger juice at some point, but without Mark’s influence he may not have started so soon. I caught up with Mark a few hours after the event. “Man that was awesome,” he said. “I’m so glad it happened. Feeling a little bit stiff, like I got a peg leg right now,” he laughs. “I’ve never been caught inside by closeout sets like that.” And when a man with the big wave track record of this gent says that, you know it was heavy. If you watched the webcast, you saw Mr Healey taking off as deep as anyone, packing heavy wipeouts and getting right back out for more. Remember that bomb he got out at Puerto Escondido last year? It was coined the biggest wave ever

Stab: When was that board shaped? It looks proper 90’s.
Mark: Oh god, I don’t know man. It was a long time ago. It was a Rusty board so it must have been at least 18 years ago. I just had it for a while.

Why did you decide to give it to Mr Florence?
It was too narrow for me when I got it. That’s why I held onto it for so long. I was thinking this would be perfect for a kid. I remember when I was a grom, it was so hard for me to find a second hand gun. Mikala Jones gave me one that some guy left at his place when I was younger, that was my first board over 6’3.

I had this absolutely beautiful board that would be perfect for a tiny guy and I was waiting for someone to give it to. John John was obviously showing incredible potential. So, one day after surfing Pipe, I called him up and was like hey man, I got the board for you go charge, make me proud.

John and Mase share a leviathan at yesterday’s Eddie. Photo: WSL

What’s the difference between guns then and now?
They were a lot more foiled out back then, almost like stretched out Pipeline 7’0’s. I don’t know why we were so scared of having thickness and girth all the way through the nose. Now big wave boards have more volume, thickness and a lot are quad set-ups.

I think since we are surfing big waves far more often, you learn how to surf a thicker, bigger board better. Back then (the 90’s), there were only a few guys that were actually chasing and staying current with big waves. Now there’s so many more people exposing themselves and putting in a lot of big wave hours a year. Big wave surfing is growing and people are learning what boards work.

The iconic photograph of the late, great Brock Little. Setting the page for big wave surfing. Photo: Scott Winer

How do they ride in comparison to their 90’s counterparts?
Boards now compared to the one’s in the 90’s and early 2000’s are so much better, like night and day better. There were so many bad boards around in the 90’s and early 2000’s. In the 80’s there were great big wave boards. Guys like Brock Little, Richard Schmidt, Keoni Downing and Ken Bradshaw in the older Eddie’s were on thicker boards. When I pick those boards up they still feel good to me but somewhere along the lines with momentum generation boards changed shape. They tried to transfer that all the way through big wave guns. Except for a few Hawaiian shapers, everyone was going pretty damn thin.

What’s in store for Mr Florence as the WCT kicks off?
I hope he wins a fucking world title. He’s got the skills. It’s just a grind, you have to be a Jedi Master for a whole year straight. But he’s got the drive, he’s got the fire, he’s got the skills, it’s just a matter of applying it.

We always thought he’d win a Pipe Masters before an Eddie.
Right?! It’s pretty crazy, but I’d take the Eddie over the Pipe Masters any day. He’ll probably win the Pipe Masters soon anyways. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

 

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