When most people think about bodysurfing, they think of two things: a fun little womp in the shorebreak or someone like Mike Stewart or Mark Cunningham rolling into Pipeline bombs. But Kalani Lattanzi is not most people. When he thinks about bodysurfing, he thinks about sliding down the face of the biggest wave possible with only a hand plane to assist him. As you may have heard, Jaws fired the starter’s gun in early November, and Lattanzi was there — without a surfboard.
You might’ve heard about Lattanzi’s exploits at Nazaré. An entire film has been made about them, which you can learn more about here and here. In a place where most people would feel extremely uncomfortable, Lattanzi acts as though he’s simply swimming around in a backyard pool. “Just watching him paddle out directly into oncoming sets is a sight to see,” said Steve Cummings about what Lattanzi does at Nazaré. “I asked Kalani before he paddled out where he was planning on entering the surf (some people use rip currents, or low sections to make paddling out easier), he simply said, ‘I was just going to go straight down the middle.'”
Lattanzi explained to us what was going through his head at Jaws, and his thought process is similar to Nazare. According to MROD Maui, the YouTube channel that carried the clip you see above, he swam out from the shoreline through the currents and huge surf. That in itself is a feat worth talking about. At about 2 p.m., Lattanzi got out to the Jaws lineup. He only had one thing in mind: getting barreled. He paddled for a few, just testing the waters. “My first and second wave I almost made it, and I see that it’s possible to make it,” he told us. “So I waited for a good one and did it.”
According to Lattanzi, the Jaws lineup is easier and safer than Nazare. “Nazaré has cold water, no channel, and crazy waves all over,” he said, “so Pe’ahi was way more safe for swimming.”
Although “safe” is a relative term here, what Lattanzi is doing in bodysurfing is unlike anyone else — and we’re cheering for him… from a safe distance.