Any failure in the equipment can lead to a potential life threatening situation. At best that can be severe beating and at worse, a loss of life.
So just what does the modern big wave rider have in his kit bag? A lot as it turns out. You might first want to make sure you have a shed big enough to house it all.
So you want to ride the biggest waves on the planet? Well you are going to need a big board.
The paddle-in guns of today, ridden by the elite surfers in waves like Maverick’s, Waimea Bay and Todos Santos, are usually in the normally in the 9 to11-foot range.
“My board is 11’ 3”, four inches thick and has been glassed twice to make it extra heavy,” said Shane Dorian on the board he rode at Portugal’s infamous Nazaré in 2013. Shane rides quad fins, although some surfers, like the Long brothers, Greg and Rusty, prefer three fins.
If you want one, asking your normal shaper probably isn’t the best bet. These are specialist craft made by specialist shapers.
In the States, John Carper, Chris Christenson and William “Stretch” Riedel are the current paddle in gun gurus. While in Europe, Rob Vaughan makes French big wave surfer Ben Sanchis paddle boards and Gulf Stream make Andrew Cotton’s gun.