Jamie Mitchell, All Guns Blazing

31 Jan 2016 0 Share

Jamie Mitchell free surfs Waimea Bay, Photo Supplied

Jamie Mitchell free surfs Waimea Bay, Photo Supplied

COASTALWATCH | Interviews

Jamie Mitchell is one outstanding Australian surfing athlete. His achievements are little short of extraordinary, so much that it's kind of hard to believe one regular person could train so hard and demonstrate such an extreme level of fitness - and such finesse. But let's get real here, he's not just a regular guy.

He's a true waterman, one year shy of 40 and he has ticked some big boxes - like winning the marathon World Paddle Championship, the Molokai to Oahu, an unbelievable ten times - and done consecutively.

Mitchell has made surfing headlines after dropping down some of the most difficult and selective big waves in the world including Mavericks, Nazare, Belharra, Jaws and Waimea Bay. Here at home he loves to have a comparatively "casual paddle" with his mates into Western Australia's Cow Bombie - yeah but when it's pumping at over 30 feet.

At the moment Mitchell, along with what appears to be the entire big wave surf fraternity, is spending every daylight hour in the extra-tropical, low-producing, XXL swell off the Hawaiian islands.

It's all happening in 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. Quiksilver yesterday made a social media comment to clarify why the event wasn't held in last weeks swell.

SEE ALSO: Ross Clarke-Jones & Mason Ho Are Ready For The Eddie

"Let’s set the story straight," The quote started. "The team here at Quiksilver want The Eddie to run more than anyone. However we also want it to be a fair event contested in conditions Eddie Aikau himself would have approved of. For this prestigious event to get the green light the event criteria must be met. The waves MUST be in 20 foot plus range for an entire contestable 8-hour period. That means from 8am to 4pm Waimea Bay must be bigger than 20 foot."

"The judging format for The Eddie is different to every other event in the world. The surfers waves in the first heat are judged against surfers waves in the last heat. Therefore, if we ran the event yesterday, where the waves didn’t peak until the afternoon, the first three heats would have been surfed in smaller, lesser, unfair conditions. The event window remains open until February 29th and another storm is forming for next week. Although it’s a long way out, we have everything crossed that it will produce the waves we need to run this amazing spectacle of a surfing event. #EddieWouldGo." 

So with fingers crossed for the remaining 30 days and a hopeful swell this week how's the former Gold Coast Lifeguard going about his waiting period in surfers heaven? Jamie is just one of three Australians to be invited to compete in this year's prestigious Hawaiian event, along with Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones but unlike his heroes, he is yet to surf since his first invitation onto the alternates list for the 2009/10 event.

"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."

SEE ALSO: Tom Carroll Calls It; Aaron Gold Paddles Into 80 Foot Jaws

Jamie Mitchell descends the Todos Santos peak earlier this month, Photo by WSL / Richard Hallman

Jamie Mitchell descends the Todos Santos peak earlier this month, Photo by WSL / Richard Hallman

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 the ensuing 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."

SEE ALSO: Josh Kerr Wins Todos Santos Big Wave Challenge

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.

SEE ALSO: Tom & Nick Carroll Cross The Channel Of Bones

Jamie Mitchell at the 2014/15 Eddie Aikau Opening Ceremony, Photo by WSL / Ed Sloan

Jamie Mitchell at the 2014/15 Eddie Aikau Opening Ceremony, Photo by WSL / Ed Sloan

Tags: interview , jamie , mitchell , the , eddie (create Alert from these tags)

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