It’s the middle November in New York and the weather begins to chill. No doubt the temperatures will be dropping rapidly over the next couple weeks. However, somewhere between the city’s high rise concrete structures and icy shores of Long Island, a fire is burning inside one man to become the world’s best big wave surfer. That man is Will Skudin of Long Beach, who currently sits fifth in the world after another remarkable performance during the Peah’I Challenge at Jaws. We had a chance to catch up with Will after the event and were able to pick his brain about consequence, world title, strategy and more.
Will, before going into Jaws you were sitting fifth in the world. What was your goal going into that event?
“To be honest my goal before the contest was just to get into the event. I was coming in from a session at Mavericks, literally only 36 hours before the event was on and got the call I received a wildcard. Once I knew I was in the goal was to improve my current ranking.”
We saw that you took mostly to the lefts the entire time. How and why did you decide to choose that strategy?
“I grew a relationship with that left over the past few years, so just being familiar with the wave helped me lean towards that strategy. Knowing not too many other competitors would be going left, it allowed me to focus on my game plan, which was to get at least two set waves every heat.”
What sort of mental and physical preparation and training go into surfing events and waves like the ones at Jaws?
“Physically you just want to make sure your body can handle the worst case scenario. For me, it’s always been about swimming and surfing. I put my boards on the boat the night before and swam out to the lineup in the morning before my first heat so I could warm-up. Some people thought I was crazy but I saw it as a way to get my blood flowing and head in the right space. Visualization is an important part of my life; something my mom taught me years ago before my swim races. Visualizing my heats before they went down is very important.”
You’ve spent some time surfing Jaws in the past. How was this swell in comparison to some of the other surfs you’ve had out there?
“The swell was solid when it came to size. When the wind comes up at Jaws it becomes ten times scarier. From the wind and size alone it was pretty intimidating but exciting also.”
You managed to hold onto your fifth place ranking after the Peah’i Challenge. What are your thoughts going into the next event?
“The next event is either at Nazare, Portugal or Todos Santos, Mexico, both places I have history at so I feel confident going into them. However, I am not yet guaranteed a spot. I am just praying that my last two events earned me a wildcard. The only thing I can do is stay positive and focused.”
New York surfing would like to congratulate you on your success thus far. Any other words?
“I would like to thank everyone who ever sent out a message or good energy my way during the last couple years. I am doing my best to carry myself on this stage and represent the East Coast and New York. One day I believe a young East Coast kid will take my spot and I hope I can inspire the next generation to chase their dreams both in and out of the water.”