Professional Surfer

Learn to push yourself, keep calm, and manage fear in heavy surf with Mark Healey’s Guide to Heavy Water. Enter code INERTIA10 at check out to save 10 percent.

So you know this clip shot by Kyle Buthman that ended up going viral of me getting absolutely catapulted off a boat at Maverick’s? Well, this is the story:

I was supposed to be on another boat that was organized that morning, and a friend who shall remain nameless actually informed me that day that it was full. I’m like, “Well, great. How am I going to get out to the lineup with three surfboards?”

A bunch of other people organized a commercial fishing boat in Half Moon Bay Harbor, and I jumped on with Billy Kemper, Koa Rothman, Koa Smith, and some other guys.

I had just come in from surfing and was taking a little break. I still had my wetsuit on and was ready to go, and this captain kept going into the lineup. I kept saying, “Hey, you’re getting close. A wide set might come through…” It must have happened a bunch of times.

There was also this girl that was a deckhand that was super seasick. She ended up going and locking herself in the bathroom because she probably didn’t want to throw up in front of a million people.

Sure enough, the third or fourth time that a wave was getting real close, I thought “This wave is going to hit us.”

We’re in this big boat, and I’ve seen waves hit boats out there. People get really hurt. You don’t want to be on a metal boat just slamming around. At least I don’t. Usually, you always want to stick with the ship, but I knew what was going to happen.

So we’re banging on the cabin, like, “HEY! HEY!…wave’s coming.”

Nobody’s there. The captain wasn’t even at the helm at the time. He’s just running up to get back.

The first thing I think is that if this thing capsizes, that girl that’s below deck is dead. She’s 100 percent dead, and there’s going to be a lot of other bad stuff happening.

Because if you get pushed into that inside reef, that boat is going to be smashing across rocks for a long time. It’s not just a clear channel.

This is all happening very quickly. I remember putting my foot on the railing and turning to Koa Rothman and saying, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m jumping.”

I felt like I couldn’t just bail. I had to let them know it was an option.

I’m anticipating that the boat’s going to kick up on the side when it’s hit, and I’m going to try to use that kick up to push me as far away from the boat as I could.

I also remember thinking if I slip on this railing when I’m supposed to be pushing off and it kicks up, I’m going to hit chest first on the railing and plop off right under the prop, probably. I had to time it.

Sure enough, I jumped up and pushed off right when the wave hit and just went “BOOM!” and flew in the air and hit the water. I hit the water so hard that it took one of the tags on my inflatable vest and actually popped my inflatable vest and inflated it.

I looked up and saw that the boat was still there.

It just got hit and pushed to the side. And I started dying laughing.

It was comedy in the end. It could have been really bad, but it ended up being funny.

To watch Healey’s animated retelling along with more details, war stories, and insights on how to keep calm and push yourself in serious surf check out Mark Healey’s Guide to Heavy Water. Enter code INERTIA10 at check out to save 10 percent.

Video by Kyle Buthman


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