Ian Walsh on Jaws, Point Break and iPhone apps

Tom Carey/Red Bull Photofiles

Don't let his sarcastic wit and willingness to have a good time fool you, Ian Walsh takes the big-wave pursuit as serious as anyone, and the results speak for themselves.

The argument could be made that Ian Walsh is having the best winter of his career. On Maui, which has become one of the epicenters of the big-wave paddle movement, he's led the charge, stroking into some beautiful monsters at Jaws. On January 22, the biggest day in over four years, with guys like Laird Hamilton picking up the tow rope, Walsh was whipped into a 40-foot beast that stole the show and is sure to appear in the forthcoming Hollywood production, "Point Break 2."

Walsh's younger brothers, twins Shaun and DK, run a flourishing water-safety program (appropriately called Skull Base) on the island that's quickly gaining a reputation around the surfing world as one of the best in the business. Ian couldn't be more proud. This March his kid's contest, Menehune Mayhem, will see its 11th incarnation. Over the years it has grown into an event that every parent on the north shore of Maui keeps on their calendar. Now that the winter season is starting to wind down we decided to catch with Walsh to get his take on it all.

XGames.com: This winter for Ian Walsh has been ...
Ian Walsh:
A busy one, for sure. I had an injury that took me out pretty much all of the summer, which gave me time to get my body ready for winter. It feels like I haven't even blinked and it's been three or four months now. It started with the HIC Pro at Sunset, then the Triple Crown came and went. That whole run was a really fun time, along with juggling a few swells at Jaws. Right after Christmas, I took off to Morocco to chase a huge swell in the Atlantic.

We had a good run over there, but I was pretty nervous flying that far away from Hawaii. I didn't want to miss anything, but it all worked out that it slowed for about ten days. Then in January it was insane. We had back-to-back-to-back swells, and for the first time in four years it was big enough to be out of the paddle range. I haven't seen buoy numbers like that in a long, long time. That swell came with a lot of punch when it hit.

The conditions were ...
The night before was really windy and really rainy. The storm came and just hit us full on. Even that morning it was down pouring, flash floods, super windy, but right as first light hit we could tell it was semi offshore. The swell wasn't really there until mid morning, but once it came it came with everything. Each set was getting bigger and bigger. We saw a window of about an hour to an hour and a half of really solid Jaws. Then the wind turned and came 40 knots onshore.

And the production of "Point Break 2" happened ...
They needed some stuff of stormy seas -- a boat going over swells, a helicopter chasing it, that kind of stuff. Then also for the stunt portion they needed somebody riding a big wave. It was pretty ideal for them. It's a pretty rare thing to get really, really big Jaws, so it worked out. I was planning on just going out there to surf then later that day was going to head to another wave on the island that I thought might be good, but the night before they called me and just kind of got everything ironed out. I decided to hop on board. My brothers helped with the ocean safety. It wasn't any different for me. The only major difference is there were a couple high level cameras around.

Your brothers' water safety endeavor, Skull Base, it's taken off ...
They're moving quickly. They've come into their own, to say the least. Safety wise, they run a pretty tight ship out at Jaws. They're a major asset to every session out there. They're helping make the wave a safer place. And then their performances paddling in, as an older brother, it's hard to even process it. Now I'm watching them pack 20-foot barrels. I'm proud of them, for sure.

And you've put you're name to a mobile surf report app ...
I wouldn't just put my name to something like this, but the goFlow app, which just launched, is interesting in a few ways. Basically it is a real-time surf report that's supported by your friends or people you follow. It has the functionality of a social media platform, like Instagram, where you can post photos and leave comments. But it's also powered by Stormsurf.com, so there's all of the forecasting data available to backup the reports people are posting. I'm always on my phone checking buoys and forecast charts, and I'm always on my phone seeing what my friends are doing, so basically this does all of that in one place. You can see if your friends are scoring, check photos from wherever they are in the world, and also look at forecasts and reports. There's a lot of information available and it will hopefully help me step up the game. There's nothing out there like it.

Next on Ian Walsh's always intriguing schedule is ...
The rest of the winter is shaping up. I just scored Haleiwa about as good as I've ever surfed it. I'm pretty content with life at the moment. I just surfed for about five and a half hours, so there's that. Otherwise I'm kind of regrouping and figuring out what's next. I've got a snow trip to Jackson Hole coming up, then for the eleventh year I'll be hosting my Menehune Mayhem kid's contest on Maui this March. I really can't complain.

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