Matt Meola previews the Peahi Challenge at Jaws.
Can you feel the excitement? Mick wins at Sunset, Eddie might go and now Jaws gets the green light.
According the World Surf League latest update, the Pe’ahi Challenge is officially on and the world’s best (of which it appears none are Australian) should now be on Maui, plugging fins into the tail of their noble steed while anxiously looking out to sea.
Slater's pencilled in, as are Dorian, Twiggy and Healey.
What about you? Do you get excited at the prospect of pulling the 10’6’’ from under the house and straddling said board in such company way out to sea?
Me? No, but Matt Meola sure does, at least he did until he came askew and kinked his back in West Oz’s north west during the filming of JJF’s View From a Blue Moon.
“I’ve got no plans to ride any big waves till I get my back sorted out,” he tells Tracks.
“Could be next winter, might be the end of this one, but I just don’t want to put myself in the position of doing any more damage till it’s right and big waves can do all sorts of damage, for sure.”
Meola lives just a hop, skip and jump away from Pe’ahi/Jaws and while he (sort of) has no qualms with the event going ahead, he wouldn’t have been competing anyway, injury or not.
“I’m really psyched for my friends who’ll be in it, but I could care less. I’ve got zero interest in competing, I’m just not a competition sort of guy,” he says.
“Personally, I think they should’ve waited for a better, bigger and cleaner swell but I’d say a lot of it (the event being on standby) has a lot to do with all the equipment already being on the island from the women’s event at Honolua. But you never know, it could pump.”
Meola of course has the whole surf game covered. Airs? Check. Ability to catch/kill/fillet and cook fish? Check. Handy in the editing suite? Check. Big waves? Check, check and double check.
But even the best gotta pay their dues, and Meola was once famously tethered to the bottom at Jaws for so long he burst into tears when he finally surfaced.
He’d stroked into a bombing left, came unstuck on the bottom turn and went down…way down.
“The thing is, the lefts out at Jaws are kinda spooky,”
“There’s not really a channel on that side so it’s not really safe for any of the boats to sit there so when you do take off, you’re pretty much on your own.
“On that one, I was driven down so far and when you’re in those situations, there’s no point swimming, you just gotta wait it out. The first one was bad, but the second one was the one that got me. I remember thinking, ‘Holy shit, here I go, I’m gonna black out any second now.”
He surfaced, wore another one before hopping on a ski and shedding a few tears.
“But, that’s the attraction of going left out there,” says Meola.
“It’ll tempt you in and honestly, when you paddle back out from that side of the peak, the view is like nothing on earth. You get the most insane vision of the wave and you really get a feel for how fast it moves. I’m getting amped just thinking about it.”
And with that he’s gone, back to join his buds watching YouTube clips while the beast of a wave that nearly snuffed him out begins to stir.
“When it’s really big you can hear it rumbling away,” he says.
“Right now I can’t, but we’ll see.”
The 2015/2016 Pe’ahi Challenge Competitor list is as follows:
Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
Gabriel Villaran (PER)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Anthony Tashnick (USA)
Greg Long (USA)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Natxo Gonzales (EUK)
Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)
Trevor Sven Carlson
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Albee Layer (HAW)
Billy Kemper (HAW)
Shaun Walsh (HAW)
Kai Lenny (HAW)
Tyler Larronde (HAW)
Shane Dorian (HAW)
Mark Healey (HAW)
David Wassel (HAW)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Koa Rothman (HAW)