On Mark Visser's website, the professional big-wave surfer lists his goals as doing "things that no one thought were possible."
His accomplishment on early Thursday morning would seem to fit the bill - the 28-year-old Australian rode waves of 30-40 feet at "Jaws" in Peahi in darkness, at about 2 a.m.
"I was silenced. I was humbled," he said. "I thought I'd be pumped up and excited, but it wasn't that. I felt like I could sit in a field and not say a word. And just relief. I woke up each morning and my heart was pounding. Each morning I felt sick in my stomach."
Mark Visser surfs down a wave at “Jaws” in Peahi early Thursday.
ERIC AEDER photo
– MARK VISSER, on his reaction after surfing ‘Jaws’ in the dark early Thursday
‘I was silenced. I was humbled. I thought I’d be pumped up and excited, but it wasn’t that. I felt like I could sit in a field and not say a word. And just relief. I woke up each morning and my heart was pounding. Each morning I felt sick in my stomach.’
The ride will be part of a documentary called "9 Lives" that is to be released late this year or in early 2012, and is being billed as the first surfing of big waves at Jaws in the dark.
"It's been over two years of planning," Visser said. "There was a lot of training that went into it. I've done training where they've made me go into underwater caves and be blindfolded. They've taken me miles out to sea at night in a helicopter and dropped me off and had me swim back. I did freedive training to 100 feet. It was all to try to get comfortable with those conditions."
Visser is a two-time runner-up in the Oakley ASL Big Wave Awards, but said Thursday's achievement was something new.
"Realistically, I was scared beforehand, but I knew I had done the most training I could do and it was all up to me to be the best that I could be," he said. "It just came down to me letting go of the fear.
"The first two waves were really scary, and it takes about 45 minutes or so for your eyes to adjust. I remember the first two waves, it was really just surviving to make it, and after that I felt more comfortable and was able to stay deep."
Visser was towed into the wave by a personal watercraft, and had lights built into his buoyancy vest and board. A light on a helicopter illuminated the area he surfed.
"I really hope it inspires people, that - no matter what other people say - if they have a dream, and they work at it, they can do it," Visser said.
* Brad Sherman is at firstname.lastname@example.org.