Out of Office Reply: G-Money

posted by / Blogs / November 26, 2011

Why don’t we just round up to 100 feet? Garrett McNamara streaking into the mainstream.


Out of Office Reply
If Greg Long or Mark Healey or Twiggy had ridden the wave that Garrett McNamara rode in Portugal a couple of weeks ago, we’d all be dancing. Throwing buckets of icy Gatorade over his head. Congratulating him — no, thanking him — for “showing us once again that there are still waves to be discovered out there, and people with the balls to go find them.”

But instead we brushed him. Why? Because we, the surf world, were not involved. Because instead of seeing it on SURFING or Surfline we saw it on youtube (with over a million views) and on ESPN (“Down in Portugal Garrett was towed into a rogue wave…”) and in the Posts (Washington and Huffington). We saw it where we get our news news, not our surf news. So we wrote it off. And who measured it, anyway?

We dismissed it because it’s Garrett McNamara, as much a cowboy as a legitimate big-wave surfer. Shouldn’t he be surfing a glacier wave or paddling into Maverick’s on a GoPro-laden SUP?



And we ignored it because Garrett, or somebody in his camp, claimed it. Ninety feet. World record. And that doesn’t sit well with us because it breaks the surfer’s code, which clearly states that we must let our surfing do the talking and appreciate whatever recognition may come of it. Be quiet, be humble. Claim a wave to be half the size it actually was.

Garrett joins other code breakers with his Portuguese feat. Like Mark Visser, who surfs Jaws at night and jumps out of airplanes on Jet Skis. Never mind that he’s leaping into a flat ocean, his efforts earn him the cover of Spirit, Southwest’s in-flight magazine. And the original dissenter, Laird Hamilton, has successfully skirted the surf world and now Laird is American Express. Laird is The Wave. Laird is Vogue. Laird is Men’s Journal. Laird is kind of arrogant.

My first instinct is to hate. In fact, an earlier version of this post took the tone of most of this site’s commenters. I resented that the people who I consider to be the best in the sport — guys like Healey, Greg and Dorian, who paddle into big waves and are humble in their accomplishments — get overshadowed by people who are whipping into waves and puffing their chests. Because besides Kelly Slater, these guys are surfing’s ambassadors to the real world, and I don’t think they represent us accurately.


If you talk to most professional big-wave surfers, the ones working sponsorship deals with alcohol companies and pitching movies and TV shows to surf-hungry suits, the real world is where they want to be. It’s where the money is. The surf world is too preoccupied with contests and airs to put stickers on guns, so they seek a mainstream audience that understands the most basic allure of what they do: tall wave, small person. Which is where Garrett, Laird and Mark are winning. Sure, they’re doing it with Jet Skis, but Jane in Kansas isn’t going, “Pfff, pussies shoulda paddled it.” She doesn’t care. Hell, we didn’t care for a solid decade there. So maybe it takes some cowboys towing in and making claims to shock-and-awe Middle America and draw its attention (and precious dollars) into the sport. And then, when they become tired of the tow, those who are paddling in, our heroes, can enter the picture for fame, fortune and darlings. And isn’t that what surfing’s all about? So with that in mind I hate no more. I now say Yeehaw! Get ‘em boys! And Garrett — congrats on your 95-foot wave.



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  • Charjer

    Great article. Taylor, you nailed it. This type of stuff does advertise to ESPN, to Jane in Kansas, to my parents. I got calls saying “Oh my god did you see that wave that the guy from Massachusetts surfed?” Meanwhile all the guys were getting way gnarlier at Chopes on the “Code Red Swell”. Garrets wave is impressive, but does not deserve the recognition it is receiving. Now, the outside world now knows 4 surfers — Jeff Spicoli, Laird Hamilton, Garrett McNamara, and that bald guy from Florida. The people might as well think that Shaun White could do it also.

    – Drunk on Wine.

  • Billy Dora

    Garrett’s a kook… good call on that!

  • Hugh Jannus

    I took my ruler and was very generous and still only got 72 feet. In Hawaii that makes it a 30 foot wave. If you going to claim it, at least be close to right. I call it a 30 foot mush burger with a dude in a full on safety stance going strait.

  • johnny

    THat was insane. wow

  • Adam

    89 feet max, let’s be real.

  • kelly Slater

    Healy is not humble. Shane is Shane, and Long fights his insecurities of wanting to be the “guy” but guys like Sion, Nathan and Kohl have and will live on forever as those who did right and real. Didnt Greg long rat out Dustin Barca along time ago in NSSA days about Barca being to old or something ?

    This article is written by a Californian and its written by a non journalistic approach.

    Let Garret be Garret and get back to posting what music we should listen too…

    Pray for Sunny days and long walks on the beach.

  • foster’s urethra

    why isn’t the soundtrack by foster the people?
    all the little kids with the fumbah … laha haalhahha

  • Ran Paul



    This does nothing for the 99%.

    Stop the madness.

  • JohnnySubtronicGinandTonic

    Since when did Kelly become so real?? Hahaha, I guess aging does have it’s positive side…

  • Nathan Myers

    Well said, Taylor. I agree that it took me a moment to shake off the knee-jerk reaction to the dorky Sports Center coverage and outrageous self-claiming size calculation – but why be upset or annoyed by this? That’s pointless. G-Mac charged a massive wave at a new big wave spot…that’s rad. These guys jobs are to push the limits and inspire us… the rest of us are supposed to be having fun in the water and enjoying the spectacle. I’ll second that Yeehaw. (Hold the exclamation point.) Curious to see what XXL Awards have to say about this… isn’t the criteria now “ride of the year” or something?

  • Adam

    Good for Gmac!!! that wave was very large, and for the average surf media… pretty much unknown! Im sure he had a blast travelling and surfing that wave! that is why he did it… Now let him make his living doin what he does, and being Gmac. Regardless of size and claims… it was one of the top 10 largest waves ever surfed in the history of our sport! it’s worth a claim… good point Surfing!

  • Surfparty69

    In the behind bars words of Perry Dane!! DO Something! Not Gmac he did. He got his balls out and rode a giant of a wave safety stance and all. You Mr Paul WTF else should he have done. Sure he went straight but he did something like not many other have! Now next time Wiamea or Mavs or any other big wave spot breaks lets see your act in anything real over 15ft. As a so called “journalist” you should know everyone hates an arm chair quarterback. Kook!

  • think

    yall should read that bull shit again. start from the beginning, and get to the end. not a single valid point about anything was made. should’ve just said;

    gmac rode a 90 footer. most of us were skeptical. but lets be honest, it could be good for the sport. Heck, look at the 70’s and 80’s. the end.

    why are surf journalists such goddamn pussies?

  • Gerlach

    Well written, refreshing and honest.. Thanks for calling a spade a spade.
    90 ft huh? Right. And whoever wrote Kelly’s should put their real name.

  • Omar Lopez

    Man i thought you surfers were like this cool tribe of watermen/women, with a spiritual connection to the ocean? At least, that’s what i hear literally every surfer i’ve ever spoken to or seen an interview with say. Turns out it’s full of bitchy nonsense like every other thing where human gather and can’t control their egos.
    And how are you gonna paddle into waves that big? They’re moving too fast right? If you paddle in then it grabs you as the lip is curling over and you freefall to the bottom of the wave and proceed to get bollocked… correct me if I’m wrong. But yeah, i thought the tow in was necesary to get onto anything over like 20 feet…

  • Entfield

    “So maybe it takes some cowboys towing in and making claims to shock-and-awe Middle America and draw its attention (and precious dollars) into the sport” -Taylor Paul, Mongoloid Esq.

    Don’t hold your breath, sporty, last I looked they have no money left to spend after the economic wrecking ball BHO ascended to the throne; besides, you’re not winning any converts with your sanctimonious, purist, psuedo-spiritual BS. It’s always the other guy who sold out. I assume you write this drivel purely for the love of the written word because I can’t imagine anyone paying you to spew your barely literate effluvia.

  • Luc Laval

    GMac – King of dropping in during waves of consequence

  • Jessica

    Now look what that kook just did, once before dropped in on a paralyzed surfer and Joel Tudor took care of him then… didn’t learn about dropping in, on a wavejoke no less!