"There's waves where you'll see a guy going and you'll be like he's gonna go and you'll pull back or other guys will surprise you and a bunch of people end up going on the same wave." - Albee Layer. Photo: Ed Sloane

It gets really crowded. Forecasts seem like they hype up certain swells to everyone and a million people show up. New Years last year there were 70 people out and it was average Jaws. It was just fucken mad, skis going everywhere. But then there are just as big swells that better and no one will talk about it and it will just happen and there’s no one around. If you’re here as much as we are it seems almost random to me when it will be crowded and when it won’t. It’s been like that since we started.

There’s two different peaks. I sit on the inside west peak, which barrels more and is a bit smaller. It’s probably the safest and most predictable part of the wave but it also breaks the hardest out of the whole thing. It’s the most top to bottom, so I like to ride a lot smaller boards than everyone else usually. Not everyone else does want to go those ones but after spending a bit of time out there you can figure out which ones are gonna do its thing. People baulk all the time. I like to pick them out and sit underneath them. When they paddle and don’t go you can get it. The bigger it gets the more that that happens.

I’ve got my line up set out there and know if I make it I’m gonna go to the channel. Whereas on the North Peak (out the back) you can get one where it will look like it has a long barrel but it’ll back off or crumble or closeout on the west bowl. It’s not as predictable. There’s a bit more jockeying on the north peak but Shane (Dorian) usually gets the best waves. There’s waves where you’ll see a guy going and you’ll be like he’s gonna go and you’ll pull back or other guys will surprise you and a bunch of people end up going on the same wave. I’ve been in some pretty gnarly situations for sure.

The west bowl it’s pretty obvious who’s going ‘cos it’s a smaller set up and it’s the guy who is deepest trying to get barrel and everyone will pull back for him.

There’d been three swells back to back and it got to the point where it would have 100 people on it. Then we had a day with no waves then a day after that it got big again and everyone had left. I paddled out and it was just four of my friends – one jet ski and two other guys. They left and it was just me and (former World Junior Champ) Kai Barger for two and a half hours. It wasn’t huge but it was really well shaped, perfect Jaws and me and Barger the only ones out. No jet skis or anything. Just insane to see it so peaceful after a million swells where it was a full circus.

- Albee Layer (as told to Jed Smith)