Welcome to the 14th episode of the third series of our podcast!
Today with us a very special guest, 10 times Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Chhampion, 2 times ISA SUP Distance World Champion, Professional Big Wave Surfer and Host of “The Late Drop” Surf Podcast : Jamie Mitchell.
We discussed with Jamie about his passion for big waves riding, the podcast and much more!
You can find the episode in all major podcast platforms or ride the transcribed version here (please forgive us of spelling mistakes)
TTOS: Aloha Jamie, welcome to the show, where are you today?
I’m at Sunset Beach, North Shore in Hawaii.
TTOS: First question I have for you today is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
I think, you know, is having fun, surfing is all about having fun.
I think in this day and age also how we’re treating the environment, you know, as surfers, we see the changes in the ocean textures, the fishing and all the trash …..
We, as surfers, we’re sort of guardians of the ocean in a way, you know? I’m a dad and I want to also have my kids be able to enjoy the ocean and have fun like I have. I think that, we all need to help this beautiful thing that we have stay beautiful as it is.
TTOS: Let’s talk about your first surfboard, which one was that?
I do remember, it was my first real fiberglass surf board was a 5/10 and it was called a sky. That company was just from Lennox Head which was close to where I grew up, it was a bright orange board with a black rail thruster, I must’ve been maybe around 10 years old and it wasn’t a new one, as I said, it was a second-hand one….
TTOS: What’s happened to that board?
I don’t know, I guarantee either broke or disintegrated from too much use, maybe that’s a good end for a board! My younger brother probably started to use it after me…
TTOS: You had, in your career so far, amazing achievements, is there one that was particulary meaningful for you?
Well, that’s a hard question, because every everything that I have done was special, for instance, in my paddle boarding career, obviously winning the Molokai first time in 2002 was a very special, but the same I can say after I won the 10th one in 2011, to, in a way, finish that chapter of my life and career of paddling….was special as well.
In big wave surfing, there are so many cool memories and moments, but you know, winning the contest at Nazare was something that was pretty special!
TTOS: in your opinion, what is the key characteristic of waterman?
I think a waterman can mean a lot of different things, I really think it’s just someone that really enjoys the ocean that much, that is able to use it in so many different ways. I think some of the best water men in the world are boat captains and fishermen, because, you know, they’re on the water all the time and, you know, they’re following the currents and the bird piles and there, they just understand the ocean so much and they’ve been there on the water so much…
I think sometimes the Waterman term gets thrown around very loosely and specifically for maybe surfers and paddlers and stuff like that.
And there are great water man and water women, amazing women out there and we’re seeing many, many more lately… it’s really cool.
TTOS: During your career, you met several surfers, was there a meeting with one of them that was particularly meaningful for you?
For me, growing up in Australia, Tom Carroll was a really big icon… In my teenage years, he rode for Quiksilver and, eventually, I was being able to be on their team and meet him! He was such a cool guy, such an open guy and had lots of knowledge and he’s from Australia! Tom was very supportive of me and, as well, interested in what I was doing.
Obviously I’ve got to meet Kelly Slater, he is the greatest of all time and also Peter Mel, he was one of my first guys that took me out the Mavericks for the first time and I have a deep respect for him and what he’s done
It so hard just to mention one person only…. Now, in my latter years, I’ve been hanging out with Barton Lynch a lot, you know, he is World Champion from Australia and we’ve been surfing a ton and he’s been giving me a ton of wisdom and advice and stuff.
It never ends, you know, the cool thing about surfing is it just never, never ends, I’m very lucky to have met so many amazing surfers and pick their brains, listen to them and just yeah, it’s been really awesome.
TTOS:Let’s talk about your podcast, how did you come up with the idea of making a podcast?
it’s something that I’ve had in my mind for a few years and I didn’t know if it was going to be about just big wave surfing or would be about everything or paddling or what it may be…
With everything happening in the world, the COVID-19 and everything else, I just thought that it would be a great time to do that, it would give me something to focus on and also I really want to showcase the best men and women, big wave surfers and the young kids up and coming. I really want to show the public and get this story out about these amazing athletes. So I thought “Hey, why not? Why not do this now?” I reached out to Surfline and I asked if they’d like to be a part of that and they agreed and then Future Fins has come on board as a sponsor…..
It has been really fun, you know, I’m a rookie at it, you know, but I’m having a lot of fun doing the episodes and learning along the way. It’s great for me to learn about all my friends that I get to interview and learn more about them and their past and their history and their future. It has been really cool.
TTOS: Exactly. I think one of the key interesting points is that you are interviewing your friends…., in my case, for instance, I interview you, but I don’t know you, maybe sometimes goes superficial, while you’re talking with your friends and you can really go in depth! I was listening yesterday to the Nathan Fletcher episode, wow! Amazing stories…..
Nathan’s podcast has been one of the most popular ones and for good reason, the story of what happened in Chile was crazy and the near-drowning-experience and the Teahupoo wave and the Fiji wave and his whole family history! I’m so happy we discussed about what happened in Chile, no one had really heard that story and I was able to have him tell that story to the world, that’s really special to me….they’re able to open up and tell stories that need to be told.
TTOS: How do you select the guests of the next episode?
I have a list of people that I’ve always wanted to interview, but I also look at the specific moment where we live, what’s happening in the wide world, for instance when the Mavericks happened I wanted to know more about that from the people that lived that experience. Other than that, I like to just get a wide array of, you know, men and women, from the water safety guys, all the old pioneers of Jaws or the young up and coming boys or girls…..
TTOS: What is the key learning that you had in big waves surfing?
I think, respect.
You’ve got to have a lot of respect for big waves and for the ocean and how dangerous it is. I think that everyone is a little bit crazy, but in a good way, you know, you need a “switch on” to do what they’re able to do…. everyone just has got that little bit of a different mentality than most humans, it’s probably the same with race car drivers or motor bike riders….they’re just a little different and in a good way.
I think that’s something that they all have in common and I think that the one thing I get from all the people that I’ve interviewed from young to old is that they all have this respect for the ocean and respect for the waves, because if you don’t, it can kill you.
TTOS: It’s not a suicide-kind-of-approach right there. People still want to have fun and wants to enjoy.
TTOS: I was very undecided to ask this question yesterday when I was preparing the interview, maybe I know already the answer…. after a wipe out, like the one you had in Jaws or the one Nathan had in Chile, what makes you say “okay, I go back there again, risk my life again” …
You’ve really got to love it, you might want to do it to, for a photo or to show your friends on Instagram or to try and be cool, but if you have a wipe out, like some of the ones that I’ve had and some other of the really best guys in the world had, if you don’t love big waves, if you not really, truly love it, you’ll never see that person again. He will not come back and surf a big wave ever again because, you know, it is so traumatic and it’s a out of body experience, when you have a bad wipe out like that.
Big waves surfers guys and girls that keep coming back after the wipeouts, they truly love it, it’s truly in their blood, in their veins, they want to challenge themselves.
I don’t think I can explain it any more than to risk your life, time and time again, if you’ve got family and all that stuff, you need to love it to do that.
You must love it to do it like that, you must really chase the swells and to make it a big part of your life, it must be something deep down that you want to do for yourself and no one else.
TTOS: Let’s go back to your podcast. Is there a particular surfer that you would like to have on the show?
It’s a big wide podcast, so I need and I would like to interview Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama, I know both of them pretty well. I know Dave very well, I have stayed at his house when we trained together and I’ve met Laird a bunch of times at Jaws back in the day. I think it would be a real honor to get those guys on the show and talk about the history of where they came from and get all that information from them. I think that’d be really cool for the public to hear about that.
TTOS: A part of the podcast, what are your next projects?
I created the BWSA, which is the big wave surfers association, were we are trying to create a better future for big wave surfers, a better future for the young kids coming up. I have been working a lot of projects, you’ve been watching me doing the live crossovers on Surfline at Mavericks and Jaws, and I’m really working hard to create a platform that these awesome men and women can use while going out and perform on and get paid and be able to have a career at big wave surfing.
It’s very exciting what’s going to be happening in the future.
I still like to surf the big waves, be able to get out there and catch a few here and there while I’m working on all that sort of stuff is so good.
I got my family, it’s important for me to give a lot of time to my daughters to shine, let them go surfing or skateboarding or whatever they want to do… it’s a juggling act, I’ve been busy and, I want just keeping healthy, staying fit …..
TTOS: Wow! Very busy indeed!
We’re going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind…..
the best surfboard that you have ever ridden…..
10.2 to Pearson Arrow gun. I rode it at Eddie , I rode it when I got my perfect 10 at Porto Escondido, it was just an amazing big white board.
TTOS: your favorite shaper….
Bob Pearson from Pearson Arrow in Santa Cruz.
TTOS: Personal question, your favorite song….
My favorite song is “Back in Black” by ACDC
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot…
I would say Sunset Beach, Hawaii.
I love Jaws and I love Mavericks as well, but I live here at Sunset and it’s where I surf nearly every day, that’s pretty special to me…
TTOS: Favorite big wave surfer of all time…
TTOS: the last question is a little bit unusual, we asked everybody… your best relationship advice…
Honesty, and communication.
It’s a basis of every everything that’s good, you know, if you can communicate well, and you’re honest, I think that’s that two really good traits to have and it’ll take you a long way in life.