Jamie Mitchell, All Guns Blazing
COASTALWATCH | Interviews
Jamie Mitchell is one outstanding Australian athlete. His achievements are nearly immeasurable in greatness and extend so far that it's kind of hard to believe one regular human could train and execute such a level of extreme fitness and finesse. But let's get real here, he's not just a regular guy.
He's a waterman, one year shy of 40 and he has ticked boxes like winning the marathon world paddle championship, the Molokai to Oahu ten times consecutively. He has made headlines after dropping down some of the most difficult and selective big waves in the world including Mavericks, Nazare, Belharra, Jaws, Waimea Bay, and here at home he loves to have a casual paddle into Western Australia's Cow Bombie, when it's over 30 feet with his mates.
At the moment Jamie, along with the rest of what appears to be the entire big wave surf fraternity, is spending every daylight hour in the extratropical low producing XXL swell on the Hawaiian islands. It's the anticipation of a possible start for the 2015/16 Quiksilver In Memory Of Eddie Aikau event at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, with a month still left on the waiting period timer.
While we were waiting for the swell to work itself out this week, we had a chat to all-round legend Jamie Mitchell, who is in fact just the third Australian to be invited to compete in the prestigious Hawaiian event behind Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones.
"It's a huge honor to be invited to surf at The Eddie. One of the greatest in my life" he said. "Australia has such a rich surfing history and to be surfing alongside two of my all time heroes like Tom and Ross is so amazing. I feel really honored and privileged to be able to represent Australia amongst the field of incredible surfers past and present."
As an international invitee, it would be daunting not having the knowledge of the Bay like the locals who have grown up understanding the ebbs and flow of the dynamic and fierce Waimea wave. But Mitchell has developed a deeply respectful relationship with all the ocean and people of the Hawaiian surf community since his initiation into the big wave scene and decade-long dominance of the prestigious Molokai to Oahu paddle. He says the big wave community is close because of the travelling involved in chasing swells and the emotion and trust you have for each other when in the heavy situations.
In preparation for events like The Eddie, Mitchell spends time surfing and hanging out with Ben Wilko, Aaron Gold (winner of the Pe'ahi Challenge in December), Nathan Fletcher, Ross Clarke-Jones and Grant 'Twiggy' Baker, and said "I have picked the brains of a lot of guys who have been surfing the bay for years. But surfing the place yourself is the best way of finding out what works for you is the best thing you can do."
So how does one of the fittest men stay cool and prepare for a big wave event? There's no superstition or funny business for this professional athlete. "I like to stay calm and relaxed, not waste any energy I don't need to." In comparison to the 40km Molokai Channel paddle Mitchell says, "It's funny they're very similar and different. The Molokai date is set and you know exactly the distance and route. The Eddie can be called any day within a 3 month period so you can experience a lot of highs and lows with swells coming and going and waiting to see if the waves will be big enough to run." Both are mentally and physically tough in their own ways he explains "But they're also both pretty exciting."
Jamie's got his quiver ready for the call and has recruited Pearson Arrow's boards out of California, to shape up 6 high-performance guns that include lengths of 10'10, 10'6, 10'2, 9'10, 9'6 and a 9'2 ready for action should the swell and conditions meet the precise criteria for the one day competition to run.
As the wait for what could be the first event in 5 years continues through another swell, the athletes sit tight, as big wave surfers do which pretty much involves surfing maxed out waves between Maui and the Oahu.
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