Big wave surfers and reigning Big Wave Tour champions Billy Kemper and Paige Alms both hail from Maui. The island is ground zero for some of the most innovative aerial surfing happening now (think Albee Layer’s 720) and, of course, boasts one of the most important proving grounds for any big wave surfer worth their salt – Pe’ahi.
On top of being dominant forces on the men’s and women’s Big Wave Tours respectively, Billy and Paige go way back to childhood days of competing alongside each other. Now, they’re familiar faces out at Jaws hooting one another into set waves and celebrating each other’s accomplishments.
“Straight up that girl charges harder than 90 percent of the guys out at Jaws,” said Billy.
Around the time Billy and Paige were given top honors at the WSL Awards in March, an idea was spawned: A marketer somewhere thought, “What if we took Billy and Paige and a few of our snow athletes to AK to ride and surf?” The idea was floated to the crew and everyone was in.
Fast forward a few weeks and Billy and Paige along with accomplished big mountain riders Robin Van Gyn, Leanne Pelosi and Olympic Gold Medalist Julia Mancuso were riding in a heli looking for rideable spines in AK.
Billy, a self-professed snowboard addict, was psyched if not a little nervous. Few know, for instance, that Billy is also afraid of heights.
“People ask me how I can be a professional big wave surfer and be afraid of heights,” he told me. “But when I’m surfing I’m mostly looking up at waves, then turn and go. The adrenaline takes over.”
That explains the bit at the beginning of the film where Robin Van Gyn is coaching Billy into a big, open panel of snow.
“It’s funny, Billy and Paige draw such long drawn-out lines on the mountain like they’re surfing that are so cool to see,” said Van Gyn, who was definitely inpsired by the Maui crew. “A few months later I was on a trip and I noticed I was inspired by their approach and doing the same thing. Like, without even thinking about it!”
“Unbounded” underscores the commonality between surf and snow and the inherent sense of adventure that drives enthusiasts in both disciplines: scare yourself a little every day, and your outlook on life will undoubtedly improve.