Night surfing is eerie even in small waves, so imagine the sensation of careening down sheer and heaving faces measuring 30 feet, atop a black ocean, at a Hawaiian reef break so notoriously it’s called Jaws.
Australian big-wave surfer Mark Visser, using specially engineered LED lighting built into his buoyancy vest and board, became the first to night surf at Jaws off Maui, during an admittedly scary and ultra-surreal session at about 2 a.m. Thursday.
Visser, 28, was towed onto the waves via jet-powered watercraft, as all surfers are during big winter swells at Jaws, because the swells travel too swiftly to be caught by paddling.
The high-tech lighting technologies were created specifically for this project, two years in the planning, and designed to ensure that the wave and board were lit in specific places and that the vision of jetski drivers and helicopter crews was not hindered.
The result was an event that left Visser spellbound when he inspected the footage.
“It wasn’t until I saw the pictures [that] I realized how big it was,” Visser said. “This was the scariest, but most exciting thing I have ever done. Riding in complete darkness meant I had to go off feeling. I had to zone out from how you normally ride and be part of the wave.”
The “Night Rider” feat is the first of a series of extreme, first-time adventures that will be made into a documentary called “9 Lives,” to be distributed at the end of the year — that is, if he completes them all safely.
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