“Oh man, the guy wanted to kill me,” said Soli. His eyes wide. “I didn’t want any trouble, so I listened to him when he said I needed to leave, but I had no idea what the hell he was talkin’ about.”
Long story short, a few days before Soli and I found ourselves chatting on a back patio on the North Shore, he had gone to a party at another house. Basically, a big dude playing bouncer at the door confused Soli for someone else and nearly throttled him. That is until an occupant of said house ran up shouting, “Hold on! That’s the wrong guy!”
He came out unscathed if a little shaken. But he was laughing about it now.
On land, Soli Baily is an unassuming type. He rides a scooter along the Kam Highway. He texts with the super tan thumbs up emoji.
In the water, though, it’s a different story. Charger. Fierce competitor. These are descriptors that have no business being taken lightly and tossed around willy nilly. And while they often are, to be clear Soli’s the real deal.
When we spoke in early December, it was before he became the first Australian to ever win the Volcom Pipe Pro – a contest that continues to be a harbinger of competitive surfing’s next crop of talent. The event attracts many of the world’s best surfers that just want to surf Pipeline with a few other guys out. Think Kelly, JOB, John John.
He might be soft-spoken, but when Soli said this year is his year he meant it. And starting the year off with a win at Pipe is huge. Beyond that, Soli’s also tackled Shipstern Bluff – a veritable monster of a wave.
For Soli, though, the spotlight and fanfare is still unfamiliar territory. During our chat, I asked him if he’d introduce himself to the camera. Nerves caused him to give the wrong age. “Hey I’m Soli Bailey,” he said. “And I’m 19 years old. Wait. Ugh…What am I saying that I’m 19? I’m 21.” His face turned red.
Hey, to be fair, I was nervous too. By then I hadn’t been doing this for that long. And as an awkward sonofabitch, I’m sure I made things worse. More than anything, though, the moment was endearing.
It won’t be long before nerves go out the window and Soli settles comfortably into being one of the top surfers in the world and all that entails. Not to mention as a Skullcandy athlete, he’s in good company with the likes of Mick Fanning as a mentor.
Soli Bailey is on the precipice of becoming a household name. And when that happens, don’t expect to hear any more stories about cases of mistaken identity.
Editor’s note: This feature was made possible by our friends at Skullcandy.