Just when you think this wave should end, it doesn't. Film: Chris Rogers
Holy Fuck! The Best Wave Ever Recorded...Ever
From the wave's rider, Koa Smith: "It was two minutes long and had eight tubes!"
Yes, we're still talking about the most recent Namibia swell, and for good reason – the best wave in the world had one of its best swells in recent memory.
And for one reason or another, not many pros were there to surf it. As far as internationals go, it was just Brett Barley and Oliver Kurtz (whom we spoke with here) and Kauai's Koa Smith who made the long journey east.
And boy was it fucking worth it.
Oliver and Koa caught the "best waves of their lives", and Brett found multiple double-digit tube rides. Good thing, too, because the faithful Carolinian missed his wedding anniversary for the occasion, a la Yadin Nicol last year, so going home empty-handed would not have been a good look.
Stab wanted to catch up with Koa to see how his experience was at the world's best wave. We gave him a call after day 2 of the swell.
Stab: So did you come over here solo?
Koa Smith: Yeah I came over here solo. I already had to come over to South Africa for a few QS events so I was like, Yeah why not? Ballito starts on the 24th, but I was gonna do a 1-star as a little warm-up. So I was supposed to leave yesterday, to come to Africa, so I basically just pushed my flight up by two days to get here. It was a no-brainer.
Why was no one there?
There was a lot of doubt on this swell. People thought the angle might be weird, or it might be too small, and there was a lot of doubt with the winds, so a lot of people ended up not even pulling the trigger on it, which made it even better for us.
And we heard it ended up being one of the best swells people have ever seen there.
Yeah… yeah. I’d say that. I’d say it was comparable to the time I got my career GoPro wave. That swell was way bigger, but this swell was just perfection. Instead of it being super section-y, it was kind of one lock-in barrel. Which was also hard because the drops were super crazy. There were a lot of sets that rolled through that had no entry on them. I was reveiwing some GoPro clips where I’m just paddling as hard as I can for these waves and like… there’s just no chance you can get into them, you know? But if you did get into them somehow, I don’t even know what would happen down the line [laughs].
Would it be worth bringing a ski when it’s like that?
I mean, I think you couldn’t do that just because of the crowd purposes – people would be too eggy – but if it was gonna be really big it would definitely be worth bringing a ski. People would probably hate on you for doing that. I mean you can paddle them, but you need to be in a certain spot where the tube backs off for a second. Sometimes you can catch a smaller chip-in, and the wave will grow and turn into a six-footer down the line. So you want to be in the barrel already by the time it starts peaking. A ski would be crazy out there though – you’d get so many good waves, it’d be kind of ridiculous.
I assume you got some crazy ones this swell. Did you get any that stand out?
For sure. I got one that was probably the best wave of my life [see above]. It wasn’t one barrel that was as long as my really good one I got, but it was close, and then I think I got eight total barrels ont he wave. It was running at a speed where I had to get barreled, then come out and lose my speed, then get back into it. We got a drone clip of it and I had a GoPro in my mouth. It’s too long for Instagram though. It’s a two-minute long wave.
What does a trip like this do to your mindset before heading into a random QS event?
I think it really relaxes me. I don’t have to put any pressure on myself at all, because I just did what I love doing most in my life. That said, you’ve gotta surf each wave for what it’s offering. For instance, if you’re surfing shitty Huntington Beach, but you catch the best wave of the day there and surf it well, you’ve gotta enjoy that wave for what it is. You can’t compare it to Namibia, or else you’ll never enjoy surfing again. It’s all about perspective. So I can still get psyched to go surf mediocre waves because there’s always gonna be that one wave that’s better than all the others, and I want to find it.
Tell me, how long of a tube is possible in Namibia? Could you realistically be in one singular tube for a minute?
I think you could get a three-minute tube... yeah, I think so. But the thing with Skeleton Bay is people see all this GoPro footage and they’re like, “Oh my god, it’s the best wave ever – we need to go, I need to experience it!” But in all honesty, most people that come here sit on the beach and don’t even surf because it’s so gnarly. The wave is fucking gnarly. It’s like Teahupo’o on sand, and there’s not many ins on it. And the wave is so fast, that not many people make the barrels. So there’s a gnarly-factor to it that I think alot of people don’t realize. Even if you’re the best surfer in the world, you’re not promised a really good wave. You’ve gotta luck into it.