The consensus around the wave-riding world is that it was the greatest barrel ever ridden in a surf competition.
Recently, Maui’s Ian Walsh threaded his body between pulverization and certain thrashing with a massive (hell, let’s just call it 50-foot) barrel in the semifinals of the Pe’ahi Challenge, on his way to a heroic victory.
Waves of that size have been ridden before in competition, and surfers have gotten themselves that deep in mind-bending freesurfs. But when it comes to absolutely stellar massive barrel riding in competition, it’s mostly affirmative nods.
His Perfect 10 was the most impressive ever for anyone in a heat. It may also win him additional big wave accolades by the end of the season.
And with today’s webcast technology, folks were watching around the world - from the North Shore to little towns deep in the American heartland.
Of course, all of Ian’s friends were tuned in from all corners of the globe, including professional snowboarder Travis Rice. (Rice has something of an action sports following himself. Maybe you’ve heard of him?)
As Walsh paddled into the lineup for what will be remembered as absolutely historic heat, Rice was in the U.K. on tour with his new film “Depth Perception” (yeah, just a year after The Fourth Phase … perhaps the biggest snowboard film ever) watching it all go down.
“I was in a taxi, driving to our premiere in London while I watched Ian catch the wave-seen-round-the-world. I was over the moon seeing him come out of that barrel,” says Rice.
Rice and Walsh are buds. They surf together. They snowboard together. This summer, they sailed a good chunk of the Pacific Ocean together, looking for waves and fish on the high seas.
“I was feeling a lot of things, but one thing I wasn’t, was surprised. Seeing Ian’s work ethic and complete commitment to his craft over the years, from pushing the mental boundaries of paddle-in surfing to planning the original Jaws Contest for Red Bull five years ago, which didn’t run due to a slow swell season,” he explained.
Coupled with social media coverage, the last five years have seemed like a lifetime in big-wave and big-mountain riding. It’s easy to forget that the Pe'ahi Challenge didn’t become part of the WSL Big Wave Tour until 2014.
Walsh did his due diligence to plan a heavy water paddle-in event at the famed spot in 2012, that never got the prerequisite conditions to run. Back then, simply paddling Jaws was considered crazy. And look how far it’s come today.
“I found that that his cave navigation last week was more an inevitability than an inconceivability. And how f—–g cool that is happened during a live WSL event, which he went on to win?” Rice marveled.
It’s always cool to hear Rice’s perspective.
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