Ask the big-wave surfers

How do you prepare to meet the challenge of surfing the world’s largest waves?

One wave at a time. Every surfer who ever surfed a 20-foot wave first had to master surfing a two-foot wave. One must have supreme dedication, courage and faith beyond belief to succeed at big-wave surfing.

First a surfer masters the two-foot waves, then four-foot and on to 10-foot and so forth. Preparation must be physical and mental. Confidence develops over time.

The best preparation for big-wave surfers is time and persistence. Good physical preparation is swimming and deepwater free diving. Good mental preparation is practicing a positive mental attitude in surfing and daily life.

Focus on your dream. Really work at it. Keep working at it and you will succeed.

Do you get scared?

There can be no time for fear when facing challenges such as surfing in big waves. If a big-wave surfer allows one thought - even a little thought - to be about fear, it’s all over.

Successful big-wave surfers mentally and physically recognize challenges, but do not doubt or despair. One of the big-wave surfer’s mottos is simply, “When in doubt, do not paddle out.”

There is never a time to be frightened. In big-wave surfing there is only time for courage, confidence and belief: Courage to accept challenges of all sizes and kinds, confidence based on knowing that you can succeed and a deep-rooted true belief you will succeed.

How do you stay relaxed?

Relax the body and the mind will follow.

Big-wave surfers have to consciously slow down their minds to keep their hearts from racing. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges in big-wave surfing is controlling the mind and keeping it calm, even during the most harrowing experiences.

Big-wave surfers stay loose and relaxed by staying in the now and going with the flow. Concentrate on the moment at hand rather than worry about what catastrophes or dangers lay ahead.

Big-wave surfers are the masters of calm. To become a calm person, practice the ABC’s of surfing: Always be cool.

Why surf big waves?

Why does a doctor strive to find a cure, why does a painter have to paint, why does a lover love? When something makes you feel good, you know deep inside it’s right. Every person has a unique and special calling. For some surfers, that calling is big waves. Aloha.

E-mail surfing experts Michael and Milton Willis at