By now, you’ve probably seen the new video of Mick Fanning, “Ain’t No Wave Pool” that dropped a bombshell onto the surf world yesterday.
If you haven’t, well, go ahead and give it a watch. If you have, go ahead and give it another watch — trust me, I’ve already watched it several times.
Surfing needed this to happen: a three-time world champ who gave up the jersey for nearly a whole year to discover empty perfection.
With things like the Olympics and wave pools making surfing feel like it’s truly been sold to the masses for consumption, a feat like this harkens back to why surfing has always been so freaking cool in the first place.
In this digital age, there are fewer secrets to unearth than ever. Even that mutant wave on Maui recently surfed under terrifying circumstances has been surfed many times before and has been well documented.
It seems that the last genuine secret wave that was discovered (and brought to the attention of the greater surf world) was Namibia (aka Skeleton Bay), but that was nearly a decade ago, in 2007. Many are calling this wave “The Snake,” the mirror image of that discovery.
“The Snake” is a sand-bottom righthand wave that breaks in warm, emerald green waters just 20 yards off the beach, peeling for an estimated 3.1 miles — And Fanning got to surf it all by himself. Supposedly, only four humans have surfed this wave (Fanning included).
But where exactly is it? We’re not sure yet, but I can imagine the secret will eventually be revealed somewhere down the road — as happens with all secrets these days.
Here’s “The Snake” in Fanning’s words:
“The first couple of waves, I was thinking, ‘This is way too fast.’ And then I finally got one, and it was like, ‘Alright, here we go.’ It was crazy. I wanted to catch every single wave, but I didn’t want to miss the biggest ones. It was hard paddling over these perfect, chest-high runners. On any other day, you would go on that wave, but because there's no one around, you have to make sure you wait for the bombs. You don't want to be running up the beach and see the wave of the day just go through. It’s just speed management, man, that’s all it is. I feel like an F1 driver. The waves that I’ve seen here, I'm coming back, for sure. I just got an appetizer. We’ll be back.”
With Fanning’s recommitment last year to the heart and soul of surfing (i.e. shedding the jersey and exploring places like Alaska, Iceland and wherever “The Snake” may be), it shows that the spirit of surfing is still alive — and can even be ignited in the fiercest of surf contest stalwarts.
The discovery of “The Snake” also goes to show that there are still little slices of unexplored surf paradise on this planet … a very encouraging idea, indeed.
“But maybe there’s still hope? There must be quality, unknown waves still breaking all over this world. Sure, the low-hanging fruit was picked in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and most of what remained at the top of the tree was spotted with help from Google Earth. But there’s no way we found everything.”
Fanning and “The Snake” will be featured in SURFER magazine’s upcoming issue, hitting newsstands on Feb. 24.