The next ten men are surfing to its salty, intrepid core. Money or no money, these guys would be doing it regardless, travelling the world, camping in remote jungles, and getting maaaaaad pitted. They are the true legends of this sport.
1. Clay Marzo
Clay Marzo is quite simply one of the best surfers to have ever lived.
Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds have said as much. His trademark is explosiveness and elasticity, particularly in waves that break in the left-peeling direction. But its when it starts to pipe that Marzo enters a league all of his own.
“He was dropped by his sponsor after his illness made it difficult for him to meet obligations of a paid surfer”
You’ll see it in this clip above, filmed over a ten day period in Australia’s no bullshit North West. In it, Marzo joins an all-star cast of underground heroes in some of the best waves you’re ever likely to see up there.
Famously diagnosed with Apsergers syndrome (which makes it difficult for him to interact socially among other things), he was dropped by his major sponsor when, according to some, the illness made it difficult to meet the obligations of a paid surfer.
Not that it’s hurt his surfing. Clay’s flaring harder than ever, as you’re about to see.
“I bridged the way I was living in the ocean with how I was living on land,” is not a sentence you want to hear come out of Shawn Briley’s mouth. ‘Cos when it came to the water, no one was more mad.
The understudy of legendary Hawaiian big wave hellmen Marvin Foster and Clark Little, Briley was 12 years old when he first paddled out at the most feared wave on the planet, Pipeline.
“Why did he stop surfing? Because if he didn’t, he would have died”
By 17, he was one of the most respected big wave surfers in the world, famously going left at giant Waimea Bay and getting barrelled.
He spent a brief period on the surf industry pay roll in his early 20s, in which time he pulled off some of the most incredible rides in the history of Pipe.
But by 24, he was out of the game. Why? Because if he didn’t he would have died, he says rather candidly. They were prescient words, too.
Today, with a wife and two children, he is a contented family man. The same can’t be said for fellow big wave contemporaries like Todd Chesser, Sion Milosky and Mark Foo, all of whom have died in the line of charging.
Joe Crimo lived in the fast lane. By that I mean he did copious amounts of speed, until his eyes bled and his face ran blue with tattoo ink.
He was also ten years ahead of his time when it came to aerials, pioneering many of the board tricks that have become a staple of high profile stars like Chippa Wilson, Julian Wilson and Dane Reynolds today.
“He was ten years ahead of his time when it came to aerials”
The guy ripped, though he was unlucky to come of age at a time when the world was obsessed with the style and grace of Tom Curren.
In comparison Crimo seemed jagged and unorthodox; a fate suffered to similar though slightly lesser extents by aerial contemporaries Christian Fletcher and Matt Archbold.
Today, however, he is looked upon as an underground legend and aerial pioneer.