Stab Magazine | Surfing's Good Guys and their Greatest Fears

Surfing’s Good Guys and their Greatest Fears

Lets talk fear. Surf fear comes from all angles: the waves, the reef, the weather, the distance from land, the water temp, the big fish, and sometimes even just from the somewhere feeling indescribably ‘spooky.’ In order to conduct a social experiment chronicling the most common location of surfing fear we emptied our contact list […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by Does one
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Lets talk fear. Surf fear comes from all angles: the waves, the reef, the weather, the distance from land, the water temp, the big fish, and sometimes even just from the somewhere feeling indescribably ‘spooky.’ In order to conduct a social experiment chronicling the most common location of surfing fear we emptied our contact list and asked everyone we could think of which wave gives them maximum heebie jeebies. From G-Mac to Layne Beachley and back again! This experiment’s double-pronged, we learn what terrifies some of the world’s best surfers, and, who loves Stab enough to oblige with a reply!

Pete Mel (On the morning of the final!): “Teahupoo, because the reef’s always there to teach you a lesson!!!!!!”

Shane Dorian: “There’s nothing friendly about Mavericks. Freezing dark water, the way the wave breaks. It also holds you down forever and washes you into big dangerous rocks on the inside.”

Mark Healey. “Cortes bank’s the spookiest place I’ve ever surfed. It feels like anything can happen out there.” And the fear doesn’t come purely from the wave. When you get beat on a wave, you’re  not getting pushed to any shore, because it’s 100 miles out to sea. It’s the opposite of any other spot in that your odds of getting lost at sea increase when you’re getting pushed ‘in.’ “


Dave Wassel: “Peahi. The first time I surfed it was Dec 15 2004, the day that Bruce won the Eddie. Wiped out on my first wave at the peak. Didn’t pop up till the very end bowl at which point the next 50 footer landed square on my head. I gave up on life three times on the first hold down. When the ski came to grab me I had no dexterity in my limbs and blurry vision from O2 deprivation. My lungs were so bruised that every single breath hurt for a week. A constant reminder that she commands respect. I’ve only rode one wave there since and I call her by her traditional name: Peahi.”

Jay Davies: “I’m shit scared of Pipe and Backdoor, because it’s freaken crazy! The wave is just so intense. It breaks from 1-10 foot on the same reef. Then when it’s 10-15 foot it hits the back reef. Shallow volcanic bottom, full of holes and ledges. Then it gets crazy backwash sometimes because it breaks so close to the shore. I’m truly scared of that joint.”

Dion Agius: Anywhere that feels sharky. I am dead terrified of sharks so I guess anywhere around Ballina is probably about as scary as it gets right now.”

Matt Meola: “Jaws is for sure the wave that I’m most afraid of. I think it has the potential to be bigger and scarier than any other wave on earth. There are plenty of big scary waves but if you fall in the wrong spot at Jaws you can potentially wear the whole set on your head and then get pushed onto the rocks. Most other big wave spots will pound you for one or two waves and then push you into deep water channel or a lagoon. I’ve had my closest call at Jaws and that’s a memory that I will will never forget. Every time I think of the place that experience pops into my mind.”

Jamie O’Brien: “Teahupoo! A lot of power and I almost drowned there five years ago! It’s crazy perfect or maybe every time I go it’s a huge tow swell, lol, I still love it though.”

Ian Walsh: “Mavericks. Cold, dark, brown water. A long history of scary two wave hold downs from the unique bottom. And the eerie foghorn blasting out over the morning fog is a big change to the elements I grew up surfing on Maui.”

Alex Gray: “I think Teahupoo is the scariest. Especially when it’s tow only size. Sitting and watching those waves go mutant knowing that you’re going to ride one is wild. The build up of being in the channel, getting spit on in the boat, almost going over in boats, before you even ride a wave is an anxiety attack in it’s own. It’s the whole experience there that has you on the edge from sunrise. Not just your ride or wipeout. There’s a unique energy surrounding Teahupoo, and it’s strangely addictive!”

Dane Gudauskas: “When you’re committing to paddling into a really big wave at Teahupoo, because by the first time you see the wave you already have to turn around and go. There is so little time to think if you want to go or not, you pretty much have to pump yourself to go no matter what. And that kind of commitment can put you in some psycho critical situations. It definitely gets the energy going inside.”

Creed McTaggart: “Nazare. It was about 39 foot maybe 41… 50 knot winds, real overcast but there where a few diamonds in the rough…. Nah I don’t know man, I’m a bit of a pussy.”


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