“That’s what this is all about. Getting paid through professional surfing is just my scam to keep the whole ocean lifestyle alive. Some people write fraudulent checks, I’m a professional surfer.” -Mark Healey
The NPAC has been fairly quiet as of late, yet hope still exists that the 2008-2009 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau will get the call to run. However, while we wait, we thought we would pass along some thoughts and insight from one of the truest watermen in the sport today.
There are few surfers out there who take advantage of the opportunities that exist for the world’s best today while staying true to the person they are right down to the very core. Between the amount of money and business that’s involved in surfing today, the publicity and responsibilities that go with being sponsored, and the infinite distractions that exist and constantly pull a person away from the ocean and lifestyle that go with it, you don’t see as many professional surfers who have been able to maintain an intertwining of their lives with the ocean. This is what made me jump at the opportunity to chat with O’ahu’s Mark Healey.
While our eventual discussion touched on subjects ranging from the Eddie to the freesurfing vs. competitive surfing debate, nothing seemed to get Mark more stoked than talking about the three large papio he and Sasha landed in just a short amount of time earlier that evening. This, in a nutshell, is Mark Healey. An impressive surfer, an impressive human being, and an impressive representative of Quiksilver.
These are some of thoughts bestowed upon us by Mark Healey in what ended up being an extremely enjoyable and insightful round-table conversation-
So right now, what’s the current status of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau?
We’ve been getting big storms developing but we just need one of those storms to swing down to us. We’ve been either getting weather with it or it’s just been disorganized storms….and of course with swells peaking during the night, which happens so much, running the event in just half a day of big surf is just not worth it. So we’re just waiting for it. It’s amazing how hard it is to get all of the things to come together.
Mark’s thoughts on the need to run the event only in prime conditions-
I totally agree with waiting to run it. I think having it on a 12-15 ft. day with a bunch of guys on 9′8″s or 10′0″s just looks lame, you know it’s not doing big-wave surfing any favors by running it when it’s small. It really has to be huge to get the full effect of it, and especially these days with tow-surfing and everything, people who are in the know, like big-wave surfers, know what the respect level is for paddling into really big waves. They’ve either experienced or can put their minds in that position and know how heavy it actually is. But for the average person, they might not get that. So for the average spectator that doesn’t know what it feels like to actually be in the ocean, it’s hard for them to grasp the intensity of it unless it’s in their face and humongous 25 ft. That’s why it’s really important for them to wait.
Mark’s view on the effect of the internet has on surfers getting exposure-
It is true what you said about big-wave surfing and freesurfing, the web has really helped a lot. Because before, even when I was younger in my professional surfing career, since I was 17 yrs. old, guys out in Hawaii are so out of site out of mind, you have all this talent out here, but a guy that’s in Orange County…you know a team manager goes out on his lunch break, goes and surfs Lowers and there’s a grom out there who blows tail 4 times, and he’s like “oh my god he’s the next big thing.” Then you have a kid in Hawai’i who’s dominating those guys but it’s out of site out of mind. But it’s different now because you can put up a video piece, keep current blogs and all of that and it’s in your face. People know what’s really going on now which is great for people on the other side of the world that are big-wave surfing. A lot of the places I go to surf big waves are freezing cold, grey, foggy, gnarly places with cliffs in the background, you know, there’s not a bunch of spectators. It used to be that the only people who knew what you just did out there were the people out there. So nowadays to have somebody video and get that on the web makes a huge difference for me and it’s helped my career a lot lately cause people actually know what you’re doing.
Tell us Mark, what is it that makes you go when everyone else is pulling back?
I’m not that smart. It’s just fun you know, like who wants to do the same thing everyday. I have a short attention span, you know I don’t want to say I get bored easily. I just really enjoy life, I enjoy my surroundings. Who doesn’t like new things?
And Sasha(Mark’s girlfriend of 2 years)– what is it that drives Mark to be the first one to drop in on heavy, gnarled out waves?
Sasha: I would say it’s his stubbornness(laughs). If he has his mind set on something he goes for it.
How did growing up on the North Shore impact your life?
Basically, growing up on the North Shore you have access to see the best surfing in the world, the best surfers in the world, you have access to some of the best waves in the world and the biggest waves. So you have zero excuses, none whatsoever. You have all the ingredients so if you’re half-steppin’ and you come here you got some problems. You’re gonna hear about it. I got lucky and got to grow up here and I need to keep taking it in a direction forward and not be stagnant.
On the esteemed privilege and honor or receiving an invite to the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau-
It’s like winning a contest just by being invited. That’s how it feels. And it’s, there’s a lot of major surfers that are out here that aren’t invited to the contest. And something that’s really cool about that event that’s completely different than any other event is the amount of respect that people have for it still. You know it doesn’t matter if you’re Slater or if you’re a bodyboarder from Sandy’s. That contest has so much respect given to it. That’s what sets it apart. It’s almost like a world championship in and of itself. You’re pretty much a legend if you win that event. If you win that event, you’ve accomplished something giant in your life. There are so few winners of the Eddie.
There is more out there than ever that takes guys away from the ocean life, what are your thoughts when you see that take place?
I got a lot of friends who are great guys, but they don’t do a damn thing aside from surf. They sit in front of an X-box and a bong all day after they surf. I’ve been to some of the most amazing places in the world with groups of guys and when the waves aren’t good they’re just bitching the whole time. We’re in a crazy beautiful place with all of these things to do and see, things you might not ever see again in your whole lifetime. You might die next week or you might not get a chance or a reason to go back to the place and they’ll just sit in their hotel room with their laptop and just watch the same DVD over and over. It blows my mind, like what happens when you’re an old man and you’re thinking back on that? You gotta take advantage of life while it’s there. You have all the houses along Pipeline, the Billabong house, the Volcom house, all of these houses with groms having all of these X-box tournaments. They stop surfing cause the sun’s not out and the photographers aren’t there. They surf and then it’s back to their world of Guitar Hero. If groms are sitting on their ass at the Quik house, they can’t come next year. Back in the day, which is not that long ago, nobody had that. Kids can show up these days, be sponsored, and be beachfront at Pipeline with food paid for them and they’ll be sitting on their ass. If a kids not going out there and trying to make a name for himself, making bombs, we’ll get a kid from an outer island that’s hungry and that might not even have a sponsor and we’ll say “you’re outta here kid, you just lost your spot on the couch.” You’re here to do something or you’re just wasting space. That’s the way it is, man up and do something.
Tags: Mark Healey
Posted by Shaun on Friday, February 6th, 2009 in Surfing.