In the last few years, big wave surfing has changed a lot. For a long time, safety wasn’t something that was exactly top-of-mind. Big wave lineups were testosterone pits. Inflation vests were non-existent. The idea of dedicated rescue skis was ridiculous. Now, however, big wave surfing has become more than just a fringe of surfing practiced only by a few wildmen with no real regard for life and a head full of amphetamines. Anyone taking it seriously knows the basics of CPR. Anyone taking it seriously has a ski and a partner. Anyone taking it seriously is aware of the risks and does everything they can to mitigate them.
Still, though, there’s a bit of that old animal left. “You see the people who go out there with fire in their eyes, and just turn into wild animals,” Greg Long explained in October of 2017. “There are some people out there yelling and pounding their chest and ready to take on the world, where for me it’s more of a calculated session. You know, I do have a bit of that. There’s an undercurrent of that wild, hard-charging mentality that exists somewhere that comes out in those moments.”
The footage you see above might have ended differently a few years ago. Darty Louw took off on a massive wave at Sunset, South Africa. He fell at the bottom. Behind his wave was an even bigger one. Luckily, Jem Johnson and Murray Willcocks were on water safety, and thanks to some incredible PWC driving, they managed to pluck him out of danger and onto the sled in the nick of time.