Niccolo Porcella isn't your average surfer. He was born on Maui, raised in Sardinia, Italy only to return to his island of origin to challenge himself in some of the world's biggest waves. His accent is as unique as his ability to charge. And he wanted to be sure that everybody knew, after he suffered the wrath of the now infamous wave that won him the 2016 TAG Heuer Wipeout Award, he went out and caught another one.
"The day at Teahupo'o was pretty amazing," said Porcella. "Every big wave surfer knows that overcoming a very heavy wipeout is a good feeling. I went back out and caught another wave (after that wipeout) that was really good. It kind of went under the radar, but it was pretty nuts and was actually even bigger. That day was a dream come true, it was really special. Pe'ahi was awesome, paddling and towing with all the boys and my brother, Francisco. But probably the day at Teahupo'o was the standout for me this year."
Porcella's season went beyond his cringe-worthy wipeout in Tahiti, he was also nominated for a TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award. Aaron Gold's wave was dubbed to be the biggest, but there were more than a few others who came close on one of the best El Nino seasons on record.
"We've had a lot of great winters, but this one just blew everyone other one away," said Porcella. "We had hands down the best winter of all time. It was swell after swell, solid swell after solid swell. We didn't have much of a break. Literally, we would get to rest for a day or two at most."
But the physical challenges of taking on big waves are only part of the equation. Managing adrenaline, violent wipeouts is an entirely separate beast and with little room for rest, Porcella had to dig deep throughout this past winter.
Porcella's Biggest Wave Nomination
"More than physically it was challenging mentally," said the Maui resident. "Every time you go out there on big days, it's real, it's not a joke. You're putting it on the line. So you have to work on yourself to calm down and realize you're pushing yourself for the right reasons."
Both the mental and physical training are what Porcella attributes his survival at Teahupo'o with, finding the strength within when it counted most.
"It's really hard to tell, everybody wants to find a reason why something didn't go really bad," said Niccolo. "But there's really nothing I can say. I was in the worst position and in those situations there's got to be good karma on your side. I've trained very hard for the last ten years and when I say that I mean that. It was something for all of us to enjoy and realize what your body can do if you're in the right state of mind. It was pretty intense though, that was pretty nuts for sure (laughs)."