Back in early June I had the chance to catch big wave adrenaline junky Kohl Christiansen as he was jetting off to Peru to some warning level swell. Unfortunately the spot in Pichilemu, Chile – after much anticipation, The Quiksilver Ceremonial Chile was unable to run as scheduled on Tuesday, June 4th on the beaches at Punta de Lobos, Chile. The forecast had originally projected a 15-foot swell, but the surf ultimately did not reach the necessary heights for the BIGWAVEWORLDTOUR.COM. Ah the life of men who ride mountains. But, remember the swells in May for Fiji and Tahiti and Hawaii? Well, guess who was on it?
Kohl is down to earth, friendly and simply loves to surf. He's got tons going on with Bonterra Solar and a Patagonia sponsorship not to mention his farm! Not to mention his Big wave accomplishments (including an Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invite...his greatest moment. Trust me when I say, Kohl can juggle more than most, including long hold downs.
Gary: So you caught 15’ Fiji then went to Tahiti for that Big swell?
Kohl: Yeah, I caught Fiji came back for a day then headed to Tahiti for that last big run…was back in Hawaii for a bit and now they called the Chile contest on for Tuesday so…
Gary: Crazy, so you pretty much gotta be ready to pack up and go on a moment’s notice…
Kohl: Pretty much…it’s coming down to it. You gotta just be able to pull the trigger. If you don’t you’ll miss it.
Gary: So do you have a family? Kids?
Kohl: No, my brother does, I don’t…not any legitimate children…LOL
Gary: LOL…so you’re the crazy uncle?
Kohl: Yeah, pretty much.
Gary: So did you score some good waves?
Kohl: Fiji we scored and then Tahiti was epic yeah.
Gary: How big…15’?
Kohl: Uh pretty big…I mainly paddled. It was only me and my friend Dan Ross…it was mean…radical.
Kohl: Yeah, then I can home …went to Tahiti and it was the like the polar opposite. Everyone in the whole world was there. Production teams…so it was cool to see that. Mayhem. It was just so crazy all the jet skies and everything but there were some good paddle moments and some good tow moments so….it was a really fun week.
Gary: So if you take out the crowds and compare just the wave of Fiji wave to Teahupoo…you’d like Cloud break…still the best big wave?
Kohl: Oh yeah, by far. You can’t paddle Tahiti…it’s too top heavy the waves. But with Fiji you can pretty much paddle as big as it gets. Just get a bigger board and get the longest tube you’ve ever had.
Gary: I was reviewing that one you had a couple years ago…
Kohl: The glassy blue bird one?
Gary: Yeah, if that would’ve just stayed open one extra foot…you could’ve made that one.
Kohl: !@@#$ yeah if I could’ve gotten over that one bump…I got knocked off. I saw the light again and I was like…AHHH. It’s still the best tube ride Ive ever had.
Gary: What goes on under the water when you take these wipe outs at those places at that size? Do you recall or just go into mindless, instinctual survival mode?
Kohl: Depends on the break. Like in Tahiti esp. you get blown up into the lagoon pretty fast. You don’t get held down very long. The biggest fear is the reef not the hold down. But a place like Mavericks can hold you down forever…it goes from shallow to deep again…so, it puts you in these deep dark holes. And that’s really scary. Cortez was similar. Jaws can really beat you and hold you down. But we have these new inflation vests that we’re doing so you surface a lot quicker.
Gary: So, what’s the heaviest wave in your opinion?
Kohl: That’s hard…like Chopu’s the shallowest biggest heaviest. But then you got in my mind like the spots that scare me the most are Mavericks and Jaws.
Gary: Because of the sheer hold down.
Kohl: Uh huh.
Gary: What’s your longest hold down?
Kohl: Um, seems like 10 minutes but probably only about 40-45 seconds.
Gary: Do you train to be able to hold your breath or just surf a bunch?
Kohl: Yeah some breathe stuff but mainly just surf and cardio so that helps.
Gary: When you do cardio do you hold your breath at the same time to mimic beatings underwater?
Kohl: I do that but its hard to get a schedule just because of the flight schedule…and when Im home I have my organic farm and I have my work with Bonterra Solar going…so I have to make sure all my guys are happy and Im on the road…its just hard to train. I do that P90X stuff…whoa it looks like my flights boarding…
Gary: Oh no, Chile here you come…
Kohl: Yeah, it’s going to be 2 days of traveling for 2 sessions.
Gary: Man that’s gnarly.
Kohl: Yeah…I’m looking down at my boards right now from the lounge.
Gary: How did you hook up with the Bonterra Solar crew? They sponsor SNN, too. A great group of guys.
Kohl: They’re old friends and I’m a general contractor and got my solar installation license. I’ve hired some really good people to help me so I can do my surfing thing. But in the beginning it was just me on the roof.
Gary: That’s cool cause Andrew (owner of Bonterra Solar) is a big wave rider too so that must be cool to have that connection you know? Plus the whole sustainability aspect…goes with your life style.
Kohl: Yeah right? It’s cool to come home and work on my farm.
Gary: You doing all that on your own?
Kohl: No…my brothers a big help.
Gary: Is he a surfer too?
Kohl: Yeah he charges.
Gary: Well I know the planes boarding…let’s finish this later. When do you get back?
Kohl: That’s a good question Gary.
Kohl: I’d say about a week…I usually do quick strikes you know?
Gary: Oh real fast few last questions...Favorite food?
Kohl: Oh, my favorite food (chuckles) Poke Bowls…sushi.
Kohl: I like Reggae and folk music.
Gary: Do you meditate? You seem mellow on land.
Kohl: Oh, most the time I’m pretty hectic. Like I’m really mellow but it can be pretty hectic. I just look for that adrenaline rush you know? That’s what kinda grounds me.
Gary: Do you surf small waves?
Kohl: Oh yeah absolutely, I try to surf every day.
Gary: Do you do the diving thing like Mark Healey?
Kohl: Oh yeah I dive with Mark, but he’s on another level. I dive recreationally but I love it. I grew up diving. And I’m a pretty avid kite boarder right now.
Gary: Hey Im going to let you go now. Good luck in Chile!
Kohl: Ok thanks a lot Gary you have a good one and Ill catch up with you later.
Gary: That sounds great. Aloha.
Check this video of Kohl on one of thee biggest waves and worst wipeouts in Puerto Esondido or most anywhere's history. (4 minutes in)
Deep Water: Kohl Christensen And Crew At Puerto Escondido
Heavy barrels—and a few heavy beatings—greet Kohl Christensen and friends at Puerto Escondido in the sixth episode of the Deep Water series. Other surfers include Greg Long, Gabriel Villaran, Joao De Macedo, Jensen Hasset, Alvaro Malpartida and Coco Nogales.
For more on Kohl go HERE