Big Wave Pro Surfer: Garrett McNamara

Garrett McNamara is a citizen of the world. He walks the land as an ordinary man, but what he does in the ocean is anything but ordinary.

At a time when big-wave riding has reached new heights of popularity, a number of surfers have stepped to the front. None of them can surpass McNamara’s combination of talent, courage and thirst for the unknown. Over the past ten years, McNamara has been on a mission to catch the biggest, best waves on the planet, and he has succeeded mightily.
Garrett is arguably the most committed ocean explorer in the world. You just put him in any situation in the water and GMAC is not only ready to go, but go hard! When history scans its memory banks prominent, important images take front and center: Surviving the monstrous barrel at Jaws during the winter of 2003, leaving everyone in awe, being one of only 2 human beings ever to ride tsunami waves generated by calving glaciers in Alaska in the summer of 2007(and quite possibly the last!), going deeper in the barrel than anyone has ever gone at Teahupoo, and surviving the horrible wipe outs that come along with his approach. The list goes on, from stand up paddle surfing at Mavericks to winning nearly every tow contest and big wave award out there.

He is still on a mission to explore the world’s ocean for the best and biggest waves Mother Nature has to offer. In 2010 Garrett discovered the geographic phenomenon, The North Canyon, off the coast of Portugal. These are the largest waves Garrett has found to date and for the next three years will be working with the government on an on going project.

For all his accolades, for all his accomplishments, for all his big-wave bravado Garrett remains humble and unassuming. With none of the posturing and attitude one usually expects of extreme sports athletes, Garrett almost seems at odds with his public persona. This makes him approachable and a stand out citizen, always looking to give back anyway he can.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Tenacious, Passionate, extreme.

What is your life motto? As long as you are doing what you are passionate about, you will always be happy! Be PCP!

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I guess you could say when I was 11 and my mom forced us to move to Hawaii. I didn’t know I would pursue surfing as a career until I was 17 and about to graduate. I actually wanted to stay in school longer because I had no idea what I wanted to do, and then I did really well in a contest where I earned money, which meant I was a pro surfer. When I was 35 is when I became successful having won the largest purse in surfing history at the time.

How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? Wow! I really don’t have an answer for that. Since I do what I love, every second that I have where I can be surfing, that is what I do! The rest of the time I am plotting, planning and training.

Describe how difficult the business really is? A lot of people really don’t understand how difficult it is to be successful enough to only surf. Sure you have sponsors, but a lot of work goes into keeping your sponsors happy and finding new opportunities for projects that make you more valuable. 

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I don’t really believe in mistakes. Everything happens for a reason and every experience is an opportunity for greatness. One thing I learned from trial and error is how important partnership is. It is so important to partner with the right people that you can trust.What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? I have received invaluable advice over the years. The President of Time Warner took me under his wing at one point and the thing I learned from him was to always make sure my face and name is always included in any marketing. Recently I learned to stay PCP, present- connected- protected. If you are fully in the moment you can achieve anything!

In your mind, is formal training essential? I don’t know about formal training, but once you find your passion you definitely have to put your time in and go through the steps to get to where you want to go.

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Mentor’s are very important and can help speed up the process of accomplishing your dreams. In this industry I would say to make a list of the top people you look up to and send an email to all of them. One of them will take you under their wing!

What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? Find your niche and what makes you different from everyone else. Using what you love to do to make a difference will always bring great opportunities to you.

What kept you going when you felt like giving up? My lovely Nicole… Mini Me!!

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about being in the right place at the right time? No I believe in being blessed. If you are a good person and do things right good things will come.

Must see video: Garrett McNamara Biggest Wave Ever Ridden 

Also check out Garrett’s website 

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