Behind The Ad # 185

I’d have to say the wave from this ad [Riptide 185, shot by Nick Bannehr] was the single most meaningful and memorable wave I’ve had to date.

My last trip to Tahiti was in 2009, and I’d been keen to get back there ever since. Alex [Leon] asked me a couple of days before the massive swell in August if I’d be keen to head over and try our luck at another spot. I figured it’d be crowded and to be honest, didn’t know whether it would be good. I didn’t do the research on it, passed it up and ended up regretting it pretty hard for a couple of weeks. I was really kicking myself. I wanted to get some massive pits, for myself, and also to nail it for Eddie [Solomon]. I knew he was really ill and I wanted to get him stoked.

I was certain that with all of his treatments it was gonna make dealing with him and his family about sponsorship not only difficult, but disrespectful during a time that all of their focus was on Ed’s health. I’m not sure why, I just felt like time was running out to experience waves like that for a while and I felt like I’d blown something special.

A few weeks passed and then to the shock of a lot of people, Eddie passed away. From the reports it sounded like it was a definite possibility that the cancer would beat him, but somehow he had a way of radiating such positivity that convinced even close friends that he was gonna be okay. The next few days felt like shit; I felt really bad for his family and his close friends. I was trying to talk to the other guys who ride for 662 about it as I knew they were close with Ed too and were shaken, but I had no idea who to talk to about sponsorship stuff. It made me feel selfish for feeling like I really wanted to talk to someone about it, but I’ve dedicated a massive amount of time and effort into the lifestyle and sponsorships. On top of all that, I was doing my own grieving which came with the death of a friend and someone who I really looked up to.

After that August swell, in terms of travel, I only had Tahiti on my radar. I felt like I needed some sort of closure to losing a friend and hoped to make a little video tribute to Ed somehow. I was also really keen to spend some time with my Tahitian friends who are some of the nicest people you could ever meet.

This swell popped up on the forecast about a week after Ed’s passing and I knew I had to get there. Teahupoo was Eddie’s favourite spot and I knew that to make a tribute clip from there would be a good way to send him off. This day was the second or third day of the trip, but it was the first day at Teahupoo. We got there on dawn and I could see it was particularly thick and heavy with the long period swell. The direction wasn’t super West but ‘cause the swell lines were so thick, it was wrapping really hard, making it hard to make the barrel and just as hard to pull off before the closeout if you did make it. Admittedly, I was really nervous at the thought of getting caught by the closeout. It was the most powerful waves I’d been in for at least a few months and I had pressure on myself to get something memorable.

My first wave was early and it was a pretty decent set. I wanted to wash off the nerves, but after getting a pretty intense barrel, I came flying out straight into the end closeout. I tried to pull out but had too much speed and found myself going over in the lip with my head poking out the top thinking “uh-oh”. I got pretty ragdolled, got washed into the lagoon and had the 45 minute paddle back around. On one hand it made me more nervous knowing it was that hard to get off the back of the waves as that was exactly what I was nervous about in the first place, but on the other it made me feel good that I came out of that situation relatively unscathed.

By the time I got back out the crowd had thickened and I knew it’d be a game of patience. I got a few decent waves but hadn’t caught another solid set since my first one. I decided that I’d have to sit and wait for at least one otherwise I’d regret getting medium sized ones all day. I knew I’d get one if I were patient. After a while this one [from the ad] came pushing through from a good direction. One other guy paddled but I knew he was too far up the face. At places like Teahupoo and Pipe I like to sit a little bit further in than the main pack, partly ‘cause it’s easier to get the sneaky double up ones that everyone else misses, and partly ‘cause it’s better to take off underneath the section of the wave that ledges out.

I was in a really good position to get into it but thought I’d taken off a bit too deep. It felt like even though I was going fast the wave was going way faster. The view from a big glassy barrel at Teahupoo is one of the most amazing things you can imagine. It feels like you’re down in a big glass hole looking up at the people and the boats and mountains behind them. The shoulder wraps in so hard it feels like there’s no way out and you’re just gonna plow straight into it when the shockwave pushes you sideways. Anyway, it spat and I couldn’t see, then all of a sudden I was flying out onto the shoulder into the channel. Given everything that lead up to that point and the reasons I went there, as well as the pure fact of how riding and making the wave felt, I could easily go as far as saying that feeling I had for a few seconds after pulling off was up there with the best I’ve ever felt.

I’m not a superstitious person, but if I were, I’d be convinced that Eddie sent that swell and one of the waves of the day straight to me. It felt so good and so right. I made the tribute clip and still hope that if there’s some sort of form we take on after the death of our physical body, Ed was able to see the video. Whether true or not, it feels nice to tell myself that he had something to do with that trip, which to me was the absolute perfect closure to the whole ordeal of his passing.

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