During the biggest swell of the year on February 25th, 2016, most eyes were on Waimea Bay for the prestigious Eddie Aikau big wave contest. The rest of the big wave elite that wasn’t at Waimea went to Pe’ahi also known as Jaws and started towing the massive right with the exception of one epic paddlein barrel by Albee Layer. But in the shadows of the towshow and Albee’s nuts right barrel, NY’s Will Skudin was having a solo paddle dream session on the left. Positioning himself on some giant sets, Will successfully rode out 3 waves that could go down as the 3 biggest and longest lefthanded waves ever ridden at Jaws.
Video by Dylan Palmer and The Go Big Project.
NYSEA – What was going through your mind prior to this historic day at Pe’ahi?
Will – ” I remember looking at the buoys and thinking this is possibly the biggest day I will ever surf in Hawaii. I have been putting in a lot of time on the left at Jaws this year, and went into the session focused on paddling the wave of my dreams ”
NYSEA – Did you do anything to prepare for the swell?
Will – ” I teamed up with the local boys at Skullbase and lined up the proper safety precautions prior to the session. I was not going into this as a reckless cowboy. I had put in the hours of practice and training, and prepared/adjusted all my equipment for the opportunity. They say luck is where preparation meets opportunity, so in that case I did what I needed to do to get lucky. ”
NYSEA – What were you feeling that day?
Will – ” It was a very emotional day for me, that brought me back to the early days of falling in love with the sport. Knowing it was the Brock Swell and also the day of The Eddie, you could just feel the energy, not just that of the Ocean but also the vibe out in the lineup. I think the combination of the fear of how big the buoys were and the peace of sitting out there alone really helped me connect on a spiritual level. If you spend a lifetime chasing big waves, you can count on one hand how many sessions you get like that. That session is one that I will remember forever. ”
NYSEA – Surely all big wave surfers have some type of ritual before a big swell. What’s yours?
Will – ” I know I didn’t know him well, but I felt like it was Brock sending me those waves. I believe in God and I take time to pray before every session. Something about that morning’s prayer was just different. Before the prayer I was feeling the nerves, but after it I relaxed, almost like I was being protected by someone. I remember feeling such joy, almost like the feeling you get after a good session. This kind of stuff is hard to explain in words. Many of us humans have grown numb, we only believe what we see. I try my best to believe what I feel. ”
Photos by Chris Egan & Derek Dunfee