the players paul' antman' paterson
Word from instrumental men in the New Zealand and international big wave scene.
The West Australian madman has been a gigantic figure in world big wave surfing for over 20 years, at the turn of the millennium in his role as a Quiksilver ambassador Antman was instrumental in the big wave movement in NZ when he would attend the Big Wave Challenge each year, inspiring the local lads and pushing the limits at new waves. His list of big wave surfing accolades include; the 1999 Reef Big-Wave World Championship. He also finished third in both the 2001 and 2002 editions of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave events at Waimea Bay, and won the 2001 Billabong XXL Largest Paddle-In award, for a 48-footer, also caught at Waimea.
What draws you to surfing massive waves and how/when did you first get involved with the sport of big wave surfing tow and paddle?
Once you get a taste for a big wave you just want more & more, bigger and bigger. I'm lucky enough to have a few big waves spots at home in West Oz where I had my first taste of the bigger stuff. I then put around 20 seasons in Hawaii.
How does NZ rate as a BIG WAVE destination on the world scene?
Although NZ is not renowned for being a big wave destination, I think the local crew are happy to fly under the radar because NZ would have to sit right up there on the World scene. Similar to Cape Town in so many ways, latitude, cold water, variety of waves and coolest locals.
What's your favourite BIG WAVE spot in NZ?
My favourite spot in NZ would have to be down in the Catlins. Such good variety from outside reef breaks to slabs and amazing beaches.
During your time involved with the sport what is the heaviest thing you've had to deal with/seen from either personal experience or someone else's?
Heaviest thing I had to deal with was only a couple of years ago, towing a slab with Twiggy Baker down in the deep south of WA. It was big and what should have been the barrel of a life time, turned ugly as a corner bend appeared in front of me and I had nowhere to go. (see pic) It pushes you really deep and the only reason I survived was from learning how to relax in those life threatening situations. After a solid two wave hold down I was lucky the third wave of the set held up and didn't quite break. I know I made it to the surface and then passed out. Twiggy raced in and picked me up on the ski just before the fourth wave of the set nearly pounded us. It was a very close call.
Where do you think the sport can go from here?
What are the limits and who is pushing them the hardest? Now the ASP runs the World Big Wave tour and we have more and more of the best surfers in the world wanting to do the Big Wave Tour, I feel it is gaining some massive momentum and not long until the sport attracts the backing and recognition it deserves. Grant "Twiggy" Baker has it so dialled in right now. Along with Greg Long, Shane Dorian, Mark Healy and Jamie Mitchell these guys are taking it to the next level.
What sort of equipment do you need / recommend when surfing gigantic waves and who should you surround your-self with?
Equipment can make or break you in huge waves and massive seas. A thick enough board and legrope, some form of buoyancy vest etc… Safety is first, along with your fitness and it always helps and feels comforting if a jet ski is around for safety reasons.
What are your boards looking like when you head out there? Boards are anywhere
between 9-ft and 10-ft with heaps of foam in them.
If someone thinks they are ready or wants to step-up and catch some huge waves in NZ what one piece of advice can you give them to stop and think about first?
Try and go through all different scenarios in case of an emergency. The big wave locations in NZ are quite remote areas and first aid could be so far away. If you can keep it safe then everyone gets to enjoy the session.
Last Words: I would like to thank Kyle Davidson and all the legends that were involved in the Rex Von Huben memorial big wave event. Great times down in the deep south of NZ. Cheers, Antman