Upward: Big Wave Charger Nic Lamb Is Just Getting Started

Craig Jarvis

After surprising everyone with his win at the Punta Galea Challenge in 2014 California's Nic Lamb earned an even bigger victory last winter at Maverick's, the same break where he cut his big-wave teeth. But the charismatic Californian says he's just getting started.

Nic Lamb, who competes on the Big Wave Tour, was also a nominee for the 2016 Surfline Best Overall Performance (not to mention one of the night's best-dressed). Nic Lamb, at the 2016 Big Wave Awards. - WSL / JP Van Swae

Born: 1988 in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz.
Home breaks: Steamer Lane / Maverick's
Sponsors: Surf Air, Buell Wetsuits, SFH Supplements, Stretch Surfboards

Nic Lamb is very serious. He trains, travels and charges. It would not surprise me at all if he reaches the goals he has set for himself. -Gary Linden

WSL: You finished the Big Wave World Tour at No. 4 last year, just behind Billy Kemper and Makuakai Rothman. How are you feeling about your surfing and the big wave tour right now?
Nic Lamb: I feel good. I feel loose and relaxed. I'm young and learning. Harnessing the white belt mentality. But I am hungrier than ever. I have the best team of people around me demanding the best of me. In the Puerto event I clearly surfed to a different criteria than what was being implemented. That was clear feedback for me to learn and alter my approach moving forward.

Nic Lamb at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 27, 2016 (1/2). Photo by Dooma Photos. Lamb's excursions to Jaws last winter earned him a handful of Big Wave Award nominations. - WSL / XXL Dooma Photos

The Jeep leaderboard can and does change very quickly after a single good event. Do you feel any extra pressure finding yourself low on the ratings right now?
You're right, because they will change, I'm just focused on preparing for the northern hemisphere. I'm doing everything I need to do to show up at the events as the absolute best version of myself to compete.

List your top three favorite big wave venues.
Maverick's, Jaws, Nazaré. These venues should be Pay-Per-View events.

Mavericks, California, USA For Nic Lamb it all started at Maverick's, where he's been earning Big Wave Award nominations since he was a teenager. - WSL / Orlov

Tell us about your go to equipment when it starts getting to a really serious size.
I'm working on a few different designs with Stretch that could be rolled out in the near future. Right now I'm running my 10' and 10'4 quads.

What has been your best big wave experience over the last few months?
There was a wave I caught at Mavericks during my last session before the event that was arguably the most technical and intimidating of my life. I managed to complete it successfully. That felt good.

Nic Lamb at Nazaré, Portugal on December 21, 2015. Photo by Vitor Estrelinha. An entry into the 2016 Paddle Award category. Lamb's commitment level hit a new high in 2015, as he earned Paddle Award nominations at several breaks, including Nazaré. - WSL / Vitor Estrelinha

You have a long career ahead of you. There is much to be said about the marathon approach to the World Surf League Big Wave Tour, opposed to the sprint approach. How do you see the longevity of your career and the growth of the sport?
Absolutely, and it's inspiring when you look at guys like Carlos Burlé who is a past world champion and all around great human. He's approaching 50 and still making Finals! I feel that with the right approach, longevity is only natural. Surfing is confirmed in the Olympics. The analytics for Big Wave Surfing is skyrocketing. The industry is ready for new growth. I'm excited and optimistic about the next few years for the sport!

Nic Lamb at Nazaré, Portugal on December 23, 2015. Photo by Andre Botelho. An entry into the 2016 Paddle Award category. Lamb's first trip to Nazaré was a smashing success. He earned a Paddle-In nomination with this bomb. - WSL / Andre Botehlho XXL

Who do you think has the potential to be the next big wave world champion this year?
It's simple: whoever's the hungriest.

Your performances at Maverick's speak clearly about your commitment to the wave. How do you feel out at big Jaws?
I like Jaws. It's a much more evolved, consistent and makeable barrel than Maverick's. I look forward to testing myself in Maui this winter. No time better than right now.

Nic Lamb (USA) making it look easy. After years of honing his big-wave skills at Maverick's, Lamb found success on the international stage at the Punta Galea Challenge. He won the event in 2014, and made it look pretty easy, too. - WSL / Damien Poullenot/ Aquashot

Who is your hero? Who is the big wave surfer that you have the most respect for?
I draw inspiration from a wide array of athletes. In short, by those who take big risks for what they believe in, and never stop working to improve or achieve their goals.

If you could change one thing about the way that big wave events are run, what would it be?
I feel that big-wave surfing is the future of live-streamed sports. It's evolving beautifully. Right now is the best time in history for the sport. However, I feel we simply need more venues and locations internationally to showcase the sport. I'd like to see GPS wearable tech embedded in the athlete jerseys that can also track speed in real time. We need a priority system. We need a visual clock/timer. I'd like to see in the future, select events being Pay-Per-View. I'd also like to hear more about The WSL Big Wave Tour video game hitting the market soon.