Imagine being 19 and after surfing for only five years (mostly in Sidmouth – it’s so bad you’ve never heard of it!) deciding to fly to Maui to paddle out at Pe’ahi and ride it! An hour before the world’s best big wave surfers contested this year’s Pe’ahi Challenge last Sunday a young Devon lad called Adam Amin did exactly that.
Words by Toby Foster. Photos Glenn Tremble.
Rewind a week and you’d have found Adam riding his bike out to the headland that overlooks Jaws to work out where the ‘beach’ is so he could paddle out. The following day he did exactly that and paddled into the world’s most forbidding take-off zone – two hours of trying to paddle into these giant waves he got caught on the inside and after taking a couple of sets on the head managed to crawl up the beach to safety. For most of us that would have been enough – not Adam.
On the morning of the Pe’ahi Challenge Adam heads down to Maliko Gulch (you’ll have seen the pros launching here in countless videos) and asks the guys getting ready if he can get a lift – the answers “Sorry Adam but there’s no room on any of the boats heading out to Peahi you’ll have to watch the action form the cliff.” do not deter him and undaunted he decides to head out through the closeout sets and paddle the 3.8 miles to Jaws. About an hour into the paddle and a friendly waterman (Greg Long no less) takes pity on Adam and gives him a lift. After about 10 minutes there are 6 guys out; 5 big wave chargers and Adam. I’ll let Adam describe what happened next…
“We all spotted a huge wave in the distance and we all paddled for the horizon and I saw my opportunity to prove that I can surf Jaws so I turned around while all the others were paddling over the wave and caught this monster. I caught it and rode down what seemed like a liquid mountain. I got to the bottom and looked up…. there towering above me was a face this sized of a two-storey house. When I looked back it felt like I was going to make it but there was a stretch of white water blocking my way and I got taken out – it felt like the ocean collapsed on me. I held my breath and took the worst beating I’ve ever had and finally made it to the surface. I then noticed a huge set coming towards me and I got pounded again and again by these massively powerful waves. I was knackered and drifting very close to rocks until suddenly a jet ski rider picked me up and took me to safety. What a legend, he took me to the channel and the contest started. I watched the entire event from the channel for five hours while talking to all of my heroes of the sport in one place! I was in heaven!”
Think about this for a minute – I’ve surfed with Adam and he’s good but being good and thinking you can just fly over to Maui and paddle into Pe’ahi are two very different things. In extreme sports there are people who change the playing field, take for instance Göran Kropp a Swedish climber who cycled to Everest and climbed it without oxygen or support and then cycled home again or Jeff Clark surfing Mavericks alone for 15 years. These guys redefined what could be done and I truly believe this is what Adam has done.
This could be a step-change in big wave surfing – the established route to surfing these waves used to be decades of waterman preparation, carrying boulders in crystal clear water on the seabed, holding your breath for five minutes and looking deep into your soul for the truth of the universe. Here’s a young kid who hasn’t grown up on Maui but has dragged himself up on a diet of south coast mush and just casually paddled out into THE arena of big wave surfing and simply caught a wave! Could he have done it better or safer … of course, but Adam isn’t rich, doesn’t have a support network of sponsors or the benefit of a childhood of Hawaiian surfing behind him – all he has is determination, focus and a pair of balls the size of Devon! Last month you could have rented a board from him on Saunton beach – now he’s establishing himself as a big wave contender – inspirational?