Based on what I’d seen of Danilo’s surfing, I was expecting to meet a psychopath. He’s got photos and videos drifting around the web that would make even Healey’s heart race. Jaws, Outer Reefs, Maverick’s, Waimea. But when I talked to the Brazilian-born Hawaii resident, I learned that in addition to being a Jaws paddle-in pioneer and XXL Ride of the Year winner, he is logical, calculated, humble and a devoted family man.
Before I spoke with him, I saw Danilo at the CPR training course on Kohl Christensen’s farm. He paid attention. Asked lots of questions. Took it all very seriously. Which makes sense since he organized it. Back in October, Danilo wrote an email to much of the big-wave community touching on subjects like CPR and Jet Ski safety. In it he wrote, “I know we are all busy with our personal lives, and this sounds boring and complicated, but at the end of the day, SAFETY is what is going to bring us home to our families and friends, and keep us living this endless dream.”
And when your endless dream includes paddling-in at Jaws and the Outer Reefs, then safety is exactly where your head should be. —Beau Flemister
Before winning the XXL award, any contracts I had with sponsors were small. So I had to work other jobs to make money and provide for my family. I’ve done solar installations for Kohl, washed dishes, roofed and taken care of the elderly, whatever. But when I won the award, I could pay off my credit card and it brought more security, along with a sponsorship from O’Neill.
I met Sion a couple years ago. We had a lot of similarities in our lives. We were the same age, both had families, he has a daughter the same age as my daughter and we both loved the same big waves and outer reefs. What I remembered most about him was how nice he was in the water. He was very polite, but also had this deep concentration out there. He wasn’t some talker, blabbering or anything, more serious — in a cool way.
We were kinda on the same trip. We both wanted the biggest paddle-in waves possible and both wanted to get the biggest barrel. We also shared a really memorable session out at Jaws last season.
This whole big-wave trip is funny; guys are really pushing it. There are awards now and more coverage and spotlight, but I really don’t want that to shift the vibe. Yeah, it’s competitive, but we really need to be happy for one another when we see someone get a big one. Not say to ourselves, “Fuck that, I’m getting a bigger one.” Sure that’s fine, but we all need to be safe and supportive of each other. When you’re in conditions like that, I think it’s a lot better if the attitude in the water is about camaraderie rather than egotism.