024: Garrett McNamara/Redefining The Boundaries

Another quiet day at Nazare.

“My approach is very balls to the wall. Make it or break it. Put it all on the line to get the ultimate ride”.

Another week, another legend – this time big wave surfer and extreme waterman, the great Garrett McNamara. Garrett was in London for a few days during mid November 2017, so I seized the chance to sit down with him for an hour and look back over his storied, spectacular career.

“My whole life, I chose to go”.

And what stories these are. Whether it’s growing up surfing Halewia and then pioneering the outer reefs, or dedicating his life to Nazare, Gmac’s life story reads as a guide to big wave surfing’s recent history, and in this chat we cover the lot.

Listen out for Garrett on:

Tahiti. Photo by Servais

I was privileged to get the chance to speak to Garrett about his life and experiences in such intimate detail, so huge thanks to Jordan Williamson at CSM for making it possible.

Thanks for coming on the show Garrett! It was great talking to you.

If you only have five minutes…

Listen to this section - Garrett on the mental demons he suffered after Mavericks

Connect with Garrett

Show Notes

  • Garrett’s heavy week in Portugal.
  • Cotty’s slam – how it went down from Garrett’s point of view.
  • The impact.
  • “He basically flew up and out like a cannonball.”
  • The safety protocol in action.
  • Andrew’s injuries.
  • The prognosis – fixed fracture L2.
  • How a big wipeout cuts through to the public like nothing else.
  • Garrett’s slam at Mavericks – the horrific injuries sustained.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Being told he’d never surf again.
  • “Three months of the worst pain ever.”
  • The power of positive healing habits.
  • The goal – surfing Mavericks again.
  • Mental demons.
  • “The pain just consumed my brain”
  • The agony of rehab.
  • How Garrett found a different focus while rehabbing.
  • The trade show routine.
  • “The monkey is off my back. I’m different now. I don’t have to surf every wave.”
  • The focus on perfect waves.
  • Garrett’s latest project – the Fearless documentary.
  • Derek Rabelo surfing Nazare.
  • Working with Pablo Garcia
  • Mentoring Cotty – “I see so much of myself in him.”
  • The importance of who you surround yourself.
  • Garrett’s relationship with fear, and how it has changed.
  • Working on processing the positives.
  • The change from trying to control everything, to embracing each moment.
  • The importance of goal-setting and list-writing to Garrett.
  • How Garrett’s goals have changed.
  • How Nazare City Hall approached Garrett.
  • “I knew from day one that we’d found the Holy Grail. I was mesmerised”.
  • Harnessing the power of the media.
  • The unique geographical situation of Nazare.
  • Hound of the Sea – Garrett’s memoir
  • Garrett’s childhood – and how surfing changed his life.
  • Japanese interlude.
  • “I was so terrified of big waves – I had a bad experience at Sunset
  • Big wave initiation.
  • Pioneering the outer reefs and tow-in surfing.
  • Brazilians on the North Shore.
  • Early pro career.
  • Second half – the goals at 35.
  • The Alaskan trip – “the most intense situation I’ve ever put myself in”
  • “From that point forward I couldn’t get the rush in the ocean, because of the sensory overload”.
  • The current motivation – riding perfect waves.
  • The ambitions Garrett has left in surfing.
  • The work left to do.
  • What advice the 50 year-old Garrett would give the 30 year old Garrett.

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

  • Hawaii
  • Portugal
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Tahiti
  • Brazil
  • Sao Paolo
  • Tokyo

Wave Mentioned