The first time we heard of Mark Visser, we were pretty sure he was nuts. The dude jumped out of an airplane to surf giant open ocean waves. He surfed Jaws at night. The editorial coverage that ensued was aptly entitled Mark Visser Is One Crazy Mofo. You’ve got to have a screw loose to surf Jaws when it’s macking in the broad daylight. Night time is next level looney.
Well, we caught up with him while on location at the Ultimate Waterman competition in New Zealand, and it turns out he’s not actually insane. Far from it. He’s actually soft-spoken. Understated. Very unlike the headlines and exploits that we’ve come to associate with his name. His wife nods nervously beside him as he describes the first time he surfed Jaws. She hadn’t heard that story in its entirety before. He paddled out from the shore after hopping a flight from the North Shore. He wound up very bloody and a bit rattled. After that first session, he became infatuated with Jaws. He vowed he would conquer his fear.
Visser has developed a knack for taking calculated risks. He trains with New Zealand freediver Ant Williams, who has helped him develop a static breath hold in the six-minute plus range. Visser gets excited by the idea of doing things that haven’t been done before. Most of us do. We just don’t wait until it’s dark at Jaws to do them.