Clay Marzo is unlike any other surfer on earth. He does impossible things. He does things that no one else would even consider doing. And he does them all very, very quietly. Marzo doesn’t want you to know he’s doing them, possibly because Clay Marzo has Aspergers, a high-functioning form of autism with links to Savant Syndrome.
Let’s have a look back at a piece on The Inertia some years ago:
“Marzo’s surfing career began early. After a childhood filled with a struggle to understand regular social cues and facial expressions, Marzo found that he felt more at home in the water than in his own skin. At the time, his half-brother Cheyne Magnussen was surfing for Quiksilver, and at his urging, Marzo cut together a clip of himself surfing and sent it in. The Quik exec who picked it, Strider Wasilewski, was floored. “It was like someone had sent me the instructions to create the first nuclear bomb, he told ESPN. “I knew I’d received a package that would change the face of surfing.”
Soon after, he found himself on a boat in the Mentawais with Dane Reynolds, Fred Patacchia, Ry Craike, and Kelly Slater. Every single one of them was in awe. After a few years of battling with everything that comes with his Aspergers–including intense social anxiety and being overwhelmed in crowds–Marzo just wanted to surf. Trips and contests became nearly impossible, and he was eventually dropped by his sponsor. But Marzo is still one of the greatest surfers in the world.”
It’s a strange thing, Marzo’s surfing—he’s a professional, and by its very nature, professional surfing needs viewers. Clay, however, has found a strange balance where, in a world filled with surfers inundating the internet with Instagram edits, the dearth of clips is part of his attraction. Well, the dearth of clips and Clay’s ungodly talent.