A New Jersey Minute With Mark Healey

Apparently for Mark Healey, being a professional hell-man encompasses more than just surfing some of the biggest waves the world can produce. To gain hell-man status like Mark you've gotta do things like winning a professional spear-fishing tournament, prepping up for some base jumping, or doing stunt work for movies. We decided to sit down with Mark for A New Jersey Minute, and thankfully for us there wasn't any bitterness from that whole 'Crank Call' thing a few months back…

Dirty Jerz: So you just got back from a spear fishing tournament, where was that?
Mark: Down in La Paz.

How did that go?
Good, I ended up winning. I won the Blue Water Spear Fishing World Cup, thirty-two hundred bucks, and a trophy.

That's not so bad.
Yeah, it was good. I can now say I'm a professional spear-fisherman.

(Laughs) So you have two professional titles under your belt now. Professional surfer and spear-fisherman.
And I made money in a bodysurfing event too.

Geez, anything else you're thinking of adding to that list?
I want to do a base jump.

That would be pretty sick. Do you have any spots lined up for that?
I have to learn how to sky dive first. My buddy does it back at home, and he's going to show me how. I'll get certified when I get home.

So you're getting ready to head off to Dungeon's, huh?
Yeah I'm going to head over there for the Red Bull event.

There is a long holding period for it right? July 31st to August 30th? So you guys are gonna head over there and hope for swell?
Yeah pretty much. We're gonna go marinate down there for a while. It actually looks like it might happen early though. There's some big swell coming down there.

Yeah, there has been a lot of activity. What else do you guys do down there if you're gonna be waiting for swell?
I don't know, harass wildlife or something. Try not to get eaten. I have no idea. I've never even been to South Africa so I'm kinda looking forward to it.

So how has the knee been holding up lately?
The knee is good. Surfing normal. It gets sore but that is expected. Before it was sore and it didn't work, so it's doing a lot better.

I'm sure you're glad to be back in the water.
Yeah, I'm stoked.

So, the crank call, let's talk about that. Did I have you going at all?
You definitely had me going, I was like, "This has got to be bullshit." But there's so much dumb crap, especially now with reality TV. I get a lot of stuff like that coming my way. You kind of had me going, like you were backing your stuff up, and you weren't taking no for an answer. That's when I kind of started messing with you back. At first I was kind of pissed off that somebody would even ask that question. I was like, "Who is this clown?" It's a good thing you did it over the phone and not to my face. It was so ridiculous.

Yeah, everybody was like, "We gotta get him good, because we got him as our first crank. We gotta get him good and drag him along with it. Come up with something out of the blue."
You definitely had me going.

Well, I'm glad you could play a part for us, adding a little humor to the magazine.
Yeah, there's not enough of that already in there. (laughs)

So what do you have planned after South Africa?
I'm going to keep traveling. I've got my eye on some spots that I might want to go check out that haven't really been done yet. My main goal is to just be wherever the waves are really big. Wherever in the world it is doing it after South Africa, that's where I want to be.

What else have you been up to this summer? Getting into anything crazy?
I went to Tavarua and did the boatman job for two weeks. It was going off. That was my introduction back into real waves. It was insane. So much fun. It felt so good to get back out in that kind of stuff. Before that I was at home for a while because I was doing stunt work on a movie out there. That's why I was at home for so long. I was doing all the stunt work stuff. Then went to Fiji, then Mexico for spear fishing. Now I'm here.

I know you're a paddle-in guy to the heart, but what was the whole transition like from paddling to that first tow-surf session?
The first time I tow surfed was more for fun. I've been pretty adamant as long as it is humanly possible to paddle into big waves. There are a lot of clowns out there with jet skis. So sometimes I don't even want to be associated with those guys. I just kind of looked at it as fun. Like sand sliding on boogie boards when you are a little kid. You just go out and have a blast.  But then really, the first time I went to Jaws I got to see what a tow surfing wave is completely all about. That kind of changed my outlook on things.  But it's fun. It's not like paddling though, as far as having to get your guts up. You can easily get into a false sense of security towing. You know, because you see the swell from so far out, you don't really realize what its going to do when it hits the reef behind you. So you're like, "Whoa, I'm on a jet ski, everything is cool." And then you gotta deal with it.

I guess it's not as gnarly as trying to stand up and make it down the face of a 40-50 foot wave.
But then again, when you are towing into sixty, seventy feet or bigger, there are some very real consequences to screwing up.

The hold down factor.
Yeah, that whole death thing.

Well, good luck in South Africa. We hope you do well and the swell comes right away so you're not sitting around too much.
Yeah, I'll go diving or try to get eaten by some sort of wild animal in the water or on the land.