When Maui big-wave rider Ian Walsh says the waves he towed last week (see above, Ian in the full length wetsuit) were the biggest he had ever seen at Jaws, you know are dealing with some serious, serious shit. At the time he was doing stunt work for the movie Point Break 2 and we caught up with him on skype to talk Hollywood, tow vs paddle, Laird and life in general.
Woah, what’s with the blonde hair? You had some highlights done?
Haha I’ve been in the sun for days. We’ve been putting in some serious time in the water with loads a nine hour days and back-to-back-to-back-to-back swells. surfing all day is a good substitute for the salon. It just seems January is a very good time for Maui.
Right now Jaws is very much at the centre of the big-wave movement, how’d that happen?
The wave itself helps with that. And I suppose some of the swells lately have been user friendly. We’ve had two or three days with light winds and very solid crowd, which isn’t that fun no matter where you are surfing. I mean no one wants to surf with 65 other people. And I understand everyone wants to give it a go, and when there isn’t a 40 knot tradewind blowing 4 foot ribs up the face it makes it a bit more approachable.
How tight is the take-off spot out there?
The line-up is actually pretty spread out and different sets break in different spots. I always like surfing big waves with only a few people out, because where you take off then is dictated by how far you want to push yourself. You are not letting a crowd of people move you around and dictate your positioning. And look there were a few amazing rides on these last few swells. The waves my brother Shaun and Billy Kemper rode were incredible. When you see a big wave that perfect, it’s just amazing and stops you in your tracks, but there wasn’t that many like those
The day you were doing stunt work for Point Break 2, would you have been out there otherwise?
I would have went out for a sniff, regardless of the movie. Just the way the buoys were reading, we hadn’t seen a swell like that in so long, so I wanted to go out and have a look at what the ocean was doing. Then we would have made a call out there depending on what the wind was doing.
And what was happening out there?
That day was heavy. I saw some of the biggest waves I have seen at Jaws. It was so raw and powerful with how fast the swell built. It was compressing and condensing into one big heavy section. You could feel the power – it was like riding a super sucky barrel where you could sense the momentum and speed that was coming from behind you, it was just shoveling down the line super fast.
There must have been a lot going on, between massive slabs foot and a Hollywood movie.
It just happened that it all came together with this swell and storm, because they needed surfing and some stormy shots which followed the surf window once the wind went straight onshore. But there was a lot going on with the production. There were guys repelling out of helicopters and then once the storm actually hit, with the crazy wind that came, they starting doing a heli chase scenes with boats and all sorts. It was all run by the second unit director Phil Boston and he pulled off a quite a show over those two days. They wanted big waves and storm stuff and he nailed it.
Were any of the actors over there taking it in?
Nah, they sent the lead for Bodhi a few photos from the day saying, “Here you go, this is you surfing today.” But it worked for us, we were just surfing while the waves were good and then as soon as the storm hit they were jumping out of helis and chasing boats and just doing general Hollywood deal.