In the water, and in life…
By Taylor Paul at SURFINGMAGAZINE.COM
Photo: Domenic Mosqueira
Nathan Fletcher taught me to trust my gut.
Or at least, trust his gut. It was Valentines Day 2010, the day after the historic Maverick’s contest. I’d tripped and fell onto Rob Brown’s boat with heavy hitters like Healey, the Longs, Dorian, Nathan Fletcher, Kohl Christensen, etc. I was anxious to get out before them because they’re the best and would take the lion’s share of the waves. So before we’d even stopped in the channel I was off the boat and stroking toward the peak, and my arrival in the lineup coincided with a set. I spun on the first wave — a big no-no — and went. I hit a chop. Went flying. Dislocated my shoulder on impact and took the rest of the set on the head. Frank Quirarte picked me up on the other side of the rocks and took me back out to the boat with my tail between my legs. Most of the crew was already in the water by the time the harbor patrol boat came and fetched my girlfriend and me, but Nathan Fletcher was still on board, suit halfway on. He sidled up to me and asked through clinched teeth, “You guys mind if I get a ride in with you?” I was baffled. Baffled because Nathan Fletcher was talking to me, and baffled because Maverick’s was 20 to 25 feet, and he was already out there, and wouldn’t he have FOMO? But on the ride in he said he just wasn’t feeling it. That it looked ugly out there. Basically, he trusted his gut and ignored his ego. To this day, Nathan’s audible is the most impressive thing I’ve seen in big-wave surfing. (Note: That afternoon, Shane Dorian almost drowned. It was a wipeout that led to the inflatable vests nearly everyone wears today.)
Photo: DJ Struntz
2. Jon Rose taught me about balance.
It was 2011 and we were in Liberia on a trip for SURFING/Waves For Water. The goal was to distribute 50 water filters to the town of Robertsport, and because the humanitarianism is so often associated with feelings of guilt and suffering, I went into the trip with a heaviness reserved for funerals. And while we certainly handled some sobering business over there, Jon made sure we also had a good time. We surfed our brains out, drank whiskey, played cards till 3 a.m. It was an important lesson that doing good and having fun aren’t (and shouldn’t be) mutually exclusive.
3. Dane Reynolds taught me to paddle hard….
4. The Gudauskas’ taught me about the power of positivity….
5. Maya Gabeira taught me about resilience….
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