Global Surf Sounds journalist Kate Webster caught up for a chat with big wave surfer Mark Visser, and this is what he had to say.
Mark Visser is one ballsy man. The Australian big wave surfer and ocean adventurer has achieved it all, from being the 2014/15 Big Wave Paddle-in Champion and 3x runner up for the ASL Big Wave Awards.
His dedication to the sport is unprecedented with intense training regimes and freakish skills, he is known as one of the fittest waterman in the world.
Mark, a Maui Jim ambassador, spends his time tracking down some of the biggest waves on the planet utilising innovative technology and pioneers unique ways to surf them. Marks feats are not only about surfing, but adventure, exploration and staying alive in situations that some consider impossible.
On the 20th of January, 2011, Mark made history by achieving a night ride on 30-40ft waves at the infamous Jaws break in Maui. This was a true world first, known globally as ‘Night Rider’. This night ride was the start of an upcoming adventure documentary called ‘Nine Lives’.
If riding huge waves at night wasn’t enough, Marks second project, ‘Operation Deep Blue’, follows Visser and his team as they parachute out of a specialized aircraft with their jet skis and surfboards into storm swells miles out to sea in search of ‘freak’ waves. No athlete has ever gone to these lengths to find them, let alone surf them.
The nature of the remaining projects for the ‘Nine Lives’ documentary involve never before seen technology and breath taking feats of human strength and endurance, more.
Global Surf Sounds caught up with Mark for a one on one.
- Where did your passion for the bigger waves come from? What made you transition to Big Waves?
My passion for the bigger waves came from the first time I went to West Australia and I saw the big waves and felt really scared but excited! It wasn’t huge but bigger than the normal surf I was used and I was excited by the challenge!
I then competed in the World Qualifying Series for three years which is small waves and following this I started performing in larger waves and felt like I was doing a lot better.
- What goes through your mind when you paddle into these monster waves?
Really just being focused, noting where you are in the positing of the wave and where you need to be to take off. I’ve got to be in the right spot and paddle really hard to get into it. I never think about anything else aside from the next step because you think too far ahead you won’t make it through.
- Do you have a favourite wave?
Teahupoo, Tahiti. Awesome barrel!
- Where has been somewhere you have travelled where there was no surf, but you enjoyed it? And Why?
Fiji, five times a year! While I’m there I still like to be in the water diving. Also love the time to spend with friends and family.
- What type of training do you do to prepare for big wave surfing?
A lot of paddling and under water training. Circuit training out the park running up hills and a lot of boxing. I also need to make sure I’m in the right mindset. I do this by covering off all scenarios and taking the time to look back on past achievements for motivation.
- Is there anywhere you have not conquered yet that is on the list?
Yes, out in the middle of nowhere called operation deep blue. A wave in the middle of the open ocean that we have to parachute in to.
- When you are not surfing, how do you chill?
Free diving, spending time with family and friends.
- The night ride you did in Maui was epic, do you have plans to go better again and if so what are they?
I don’t know if I would do it again as the logistics were quite intense but I did really enjoy it and it was super fun!
- You seem fearless. Is there anything that scares you?
Still scared when I surf big waves, but I make sure I’m in the right mind frame to get me through and deal with the wave to come.
- Who has most inspired / influenced you?
As a kid, I would say Michael Jordan. He did things that people didn’t think you could do and I always thought that this was inspiring.