Editor’s Note: The Ocean Warrior course is available for download here. The course typically is priced at $499, but they’re offering it to The Inertia readers for just $99 for a limited time. Check it out.
Big wave surfer Mark Visser has worked very hard to manage his fear in heavy surf. He used to be terrified of water after nearly drowning as a child.
“One afternoon, when I was three years old, I was walking around the farm, watching the sheep and cows, and I dropped my peach in the sheep’s trough, which was a 55-gallon drum cut in half,” said Visser. “I dived in after my peach, but the water was over my head. So there I was, totally submerged, sitting on the bottom of the sheep’s trough. My older brother had pulled me out by my hair before I drowned.”
As Visser discovered, being fearful while holding your breath isn’t additive.
“When you’re fearful you hold tension. You hold tension in your body. But Ant Williams, a world-class freediver and my trainer, put me in situations teaching me how to let go of that.”
When Visser embarked on this journey his breath hold was about 45 seconds. Through disciplined training, he was able to increase his breath hold to six minutes. Despite the improvement, however, Visser believes that for surfers that’s just one piece of the puzzle.
“The problem is, no surfers have ever really taught this skill,” says Visser. “It’s always been people who don’t surf themselves teaching technical things about how to hold your breath. And guess what? Those skills are great, but they don’t often work when you’re in the surf. You’re dealing with things like currents, turbulence, high heart rates, your board, and so many other things. What’s applicable in one arena doesn’t always carry over to another.”
Visser teamed up with Shane Dorian, Brian Keaulana, Ant Williams, William Trubridge, and many of the world’s most accomplished watermen to develop a course that equips all surfers with the safety skills and confidence essential to begin and sustain a lifelong relationship with the ocean.
“In a nutshell, the course teaches people how to maximize their breath hold, become safe in the water, and how to tap into the secrets of the most elite waterman in the world so anyone at any level can become confident,” says Visser.
Visser has worked with some of the world’s best athletes, including Tyler Wright, Garrett McNamara, and Navy SEALs, and now he’s making the course available to surfers of all levels.