Night surfing at Jaws

Jordy Smith did it 2 weeks ago, now it’s Mark Visser’s turn

But this time it’s night surfing big waves – the magnificent Jaws to be exact – now that’s something!

Big Wave surfers from around the world descended on Hawaii last week as predictions that the perfect storm 2,500 kms away would create the right conditions for the mega-waves that Hawaii is so famous for. Sadly, the storm happened but did not create the monstor wave that was anticipated. however it did create swells far bigger than most people are used to surfing.

There is no question that the north Pacific system generating the anticipated swell has the potential to deliver waves of “Eddie” size, but it now comes down to the directional focus of the swell. If everything goes as planned then Quiksilver will hold their ‘In Memory of Eddie Aikau’ event, Fueled by Monster Energy – if not, then it’s delayed… again.

This is a one-day big wave invitational staged at Waimea Bay when there is a minimum wave height of 20 feet. It was last held on December 8, 2009, in 20- to 25-foot surf and was won by California’s Greg Long. The event is held in memory of one of the greatest Hawaiian watermen of all time, Eddie Aikau, who was a pioneer big wave rider and highly respected lifeguard at Waimea Bay. In its 26 year history, the event has only been held a total of eight times.

Now perhaps you can appreciate the excitement.

Friday, 20th January, it was called off again – here’s a great video from Quiksilver showing why:

However, at 2 a.m. in the morning of the 21st Mark Visser made history by achieving a night ride on waves measuring 30-40 foot faces off the shores of Maui with specially engineered LED lights built into a buoyancy vest and modified into the surfboard. The lighting technologies were created especially for the project by Solus Corporation using ground breaking NASA submarine lighting to ensure the wave and board were lit in the right places, at the right time and illuminated the wave without hindering the vision of Visser, the jet ski drivers and the helicopter pilots.

With the help of his team overhead in a helicopter, Visser was towed in by jet-ski as he entered the infamous big wave break just prior to the peak of the swell, completely illuminated.

Have another look …

Mark Visser Rides JAWS at Night! from Fortrus Sports on Vimeo.

This was a world first. A few weeks previously Jordy Smith and 7 friends, in co-operation with Red Bull, had night surfed off the coast of Camps Bay Cape Town, but this is the first time a big wave had been challenged in the dark.

So who is this dude – Mark Visser?

Well, he’s a big wave surfer, that’s obvious. A professional – that’s obvious too! But even he was awed by the occasion. “It wasn’t until I saw the pictures I realized how big it was. This project has been two years in the planning and it was the scariest, but most exciting thing I have ever done,” says Visser. “Riding in complete darkness meant I had to go off feeling. I had to zone out from how you normally ride and just be part of the wave. I am so pumped to achieve something that no one thought possible and that I was told was couldn’t be done.”

The 28-year-old Australian from Queensland is an extreme adventurer athlete who is pushing the limits of what he can do. His past achievements include: Top 10 in the 2006/2007 APT tow-in tour event (Chile), top10 in the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Paddle In event (USA) and runner up in the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 Oakley ASL Big Wave Awards. He has also had several waves entered into the XXL awards for biggest wave ridden in only his first year of big wave competition. his favourite surfing spots are Teahupoo, Fiji and Hawaii.

Mark Visser Promotional Video 2010 from Fortrus Sports on Vimeo.

His goal is “to have done things that no one thought were possible” and it is with this in mind that he is now working on a documentary called “9 Lives”. One down, 8 to go…

Watch this space…

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  1. Surfing at night – can you think of anything better? | Xtremesport - 2012 | 5 March

    […] time I did an article on surfing at night was way back in January 2011 and it was the inimitable Jaws that was being […]

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