Every once in a while someone comes along in a given sport and does stuff that literally seems impossible. Jeremy Jones comes to mind in snowboarding. Mark Visser is the man in surfing. We have the upmost respect for these guys, and they truly are a different breed. Extreme dedication and focus, putting their life on the line time and time again, because they can't accept the status quo and have an insatiable desire to so something bigger day after day. This is not about surfing. This is inspirational stuff on a personal level. Mark has pushed the sport to new heights, and you should thank him, because after you read this interview you'll wonder why you are sitting behind some desk reading this. Grab your board, and get out there and live people!
DAILYSOKE: It's a total honor to have the opportunity to sit down, as you're truly pushing boundaries of the sport and sometimes I see some of the videos in total amazement and say, ‘this dude has to be completely insane'….Jaws at night in total darkness, wow….how much of it is mental?
MARK: Thanks! Mentally I think its my physical preparation that makes me believe I can do it whatever it is I go into!
DAILYSTOKE: What made you want to go down the big wave path — is it the adrenaline rush?
MARK: I remember when I was at Huntington Beach for the US Open and I’d just come back from the QS in South Africa with a pretty saw toe from playing around on that ‘flow rider’ over there (stationary wave) . Turns out I had broken it! Which meant I was gonna have to pull out of the whole European leg of the WQS!
I remember being really devoed at the time but also thinking, I didn’t actually enjoy surfing in 1ft crap anyway! I always just looked forward to the Pipe event, sunset, Margs and the Teahupoo trials! I remember thinking I wish there was a WQS tour that was all just in big waves… And then that’s when I decided when I got home I didn’t care what my sponsors would say I was going to tell them I was over the WQS and I just want to ride big waves and that was it.
DAILYSTOKE: Everyone sees the final vids where everything goes right (usually), but we want to go behind the scenes a bit….what kind of training do you need to be ready for 30, 40ft or even 70ft slabs?
MARK: I train alot, in the water, under water and on the land!!! I think that growing up on the sunny coast gave me no choice. I had to train to feel confident before going into big waves because I couldn’t always surf big waves in the lead up.
DAILYSTOKE: How do you find swells – and will you chase them all over the world now?
MARK: I constantly monitor the swell maps. I have a lot of things happening at once, so I'm not just waiting around. I’m flat out when I back home and even when I’m on the road. I think that’s the best formula for me. Keeping busy with the things you’ve got going on and then when something pops up, you go and that’s kind of like the break for me.
DAILYSTOKE: What about safety preparations? Is it true you can hold your breath underwater for 6 minutes? How do you develop that?
MARK: I always like to know a break before I head out there. Apart from that it’s just making sure all my gear and boards are all sweet. The longest breath hold I have done so far is 6 mins and 4 seconds. To develop that I do underwater training twice a week.
DAILYSTOKE: Tell us what happened back at Log Cabins when you were with Anthony (Walsh) about 8 years ago? Pretty close one, yeah?
MARK: Yeh pretty close! Walshy and I paddled out to Log Cabins on a solid windy day when no one else was out. We were pretty young at this stage and a couple of rouge 10 – 12 ft close out sets came through. I had a 2 wave hold down, came up on the 3rd but it landed on my head as I took half a breath!! It launched me sky high like a rag doll being flung from a dog’s mouth. I remember Kieran Perrow saying that he and a few other guys watching from the beach thought that kid may not come up. I got washed into the shore clinging to my board like a crab on a piece of driftwood. I had no energy left and a massive head ache too. When I came in, I was named ‘the lung fish’ that was really the start of it all.
DAILYSTOKE: What's your favorite surf spot?
MARK: My favourite break is Teahupoo in Tahiti.
DAILYSTOKE: What boards do you ride?
MARK: My quiver ranges from 5’ 5 to 5’10 tow boards and then my normal short boards are 5’10 x18 ¼ x 2 5/16 right up to a 7’6 normal gun. I have my big wave guns that start from 8’11 to a 10 ‘6.
DAILYSTOKE: Finally, what do you have planned for the rest of the year – you have something coming as part of the 9 lives series?
MARK: I can’t really say too much, but I can say we have a lot of stuff that is pretty different and I think it’s going to be a cool series of shows.