Balance is important to Mike Pietsch. It’s something the 33-year-old goofy foot admired in Sion Milosky. Pietsch strives for personal harmony with family, career and big wave surfing. His cover shot on SURFING Magazine’s 2010 Hawaii issue illustrates his desire to balance all facets of life. In that photo, taken by Daniel Russo at one of Oahu’s Outer Reefs, Mike is dropping into a bomb on Christmas Day. His wife, Malia, was driving a ski in the channel for safety. And before the session, they’d opened presents with their two sons and family in Town.
Unlike many of the other Milosky Mettle contenders, Pietsch doesn’t live on the North Shore. He lives in Town, which he says allows him to balance his surfing and career as vice president of operations at Title Guaranty Hawaii. It’s not a big deal to make the commute to the Country when it’s bombing, explains Pietsch.
Family. Surfing. Work. They’re all equally important. While it would be a dream for Pietsch to be invited to The Eddie, he claims that his greatest achievement in life would be to share a big wave session with his two sons at his favorite Outer Reef. —Daniel Ikaika Ito
I love the fact that big-wave surfing is you sitting out there and using your instincts to navigate the ocean and be in the right spot. If you can put yourself in the right spot, you can paddle in to giant waves. It’s almost like a chess match and you’re dealing with your own nerves. You gotta do your homework; come up with a game plan; have good lineups; understand what the swell, tide and wind are doing and bringing all that information together. So when you’re out there you’re putting yourself into the right position to get that perfect big wave.
Sharing all of that with people is the most fun. I want to surf with the guys who are having fun out there, not taking it too seriously and looking out for each other.
I admired Sion because he was able to really prioritize the balance between family, surfing and work. Making that balance work so it’s not overweight in one area is really important; when you sacrifice one for the other then you end up coming up short. You gotta focus on big-wave surfing, but you have very important aspects of life like family and work that also need to be a top priority and I think Sion did that well.
I think in the long run—my oldest is five right now—15 years from now he’ll be 20 years old and I’ll be in my late 40’s and nothing would be better than paddling out to the Outer Reefs with my two boys and getting into some bombs on big boards. I think that would be the biggest accomplishment of my life.