written by Remi Billeau
Sport | Big wave surfing
Hometown | Lincoln City
Age | 40
How and where did you get started surfing?
I started surfing at Ho’okipa on the island of Maui. I was maybe 3 or 4. My family’s lifestyle was the beach, so I naturally fell in love with the ocean and surfing.
What is different about surfing in Oregon?
Oregon is a lot like Hawaii … only colder and a lot less crowded. Most days in Oregon, you are going to surf with only your closest bros. This makes it well worth the freezing waters, great white sharks, fickle winds and the brutal weeks of winter storms.
What do you fear when you’re at the base of massively powerful hydraulics?
My fear is caught between an inescapable tension of death and courage. Obviously the first thought in the moment is the fear of death. If the wave is a shallow slab reef, the fear is that I am going to get my skull smashed on the reef. If it’s an outside deep-water reef, the fear is that I will drown while being held down deep in the blackness of the ocean floor.
My second fear, ironically, is courage. The part of me that comes out that wants to conquer and come out on top, the warrior that surfaces after a severe wipeout and wants to go another round, that wants to take more. The fear of death gives birth to a deep courage that can be attained no other way.
What is your most memorable outing?
A day last fall, we were out towing a nearby shallow slab reef. It was overcast and dark, but the sea was sheet oily glass. It was only me and my bro, no one else around. We took turns logging some barrel time and filling our surfing stoke-o-meters. It was as good as it gets.
How do you train for big wave competitions?
Training is a mix of basic cardio, short-twitch muscle development, stretching, breathing techniques and underwater swim sprints in a pool.
What competitions are you doing this fall?
This fall and winter the Association of Surfing Professionals Big Wave World Tour is rumored to be having a qualifying event at Nelscott Reef. I hope to be invited again to compete in this event.