Perils, Passion of Big Wave Surfing

Santa Cruz native Nic Lamb just scored his first Big Wave Tour win, at December's Punta Galea Challenge. While his success there catapulted him to new heights on the rankings, Lamb is a veteran: He has been surfing Northern California's premier big waves since he was 14.

Nic Lamb (USA) the Punta Galea Challenge Champion. Lamb celebrates his BWT win in Spain. - WSL / Damien Poullenot/ Aquashot

Now 27, Lamb chatted about his road to the BWT.

World Surf League: Where did your interest in big waves come from?
Nic Lamb: There's a wide range of waves in Santa Cruz, small and big. If you start to head north the surf tends to offer larger and larger breaks. But I distinctly remember when I was very young stepping foot into O'Neill surf shop and seeing a larger-than-life poster of Richard Schmidt dropping into a massive Maverick's wave. I was absolutely [mesmerized].

I became obsessed with Maverick's at a young age simultaneously my father was taking me out into larger surf and I was getting my butt kicked. As my hunger for larger surf grew the further north I went until I hit Maverick's.

Lamb's 2015 Billabong Ride of the Year Submission
Nic Lamb (Santa Cruz, California, USA) outwits a huge crowd and enjoys a big, smooth drop all by himself at Mavericks.

WSL: How did you prepare for Punta Galea on such short notice?
NL: We're trained to go. I surfed Punta Galea once before, during last year's event. I placed second. It's a large playing field that's challenging, but that's what makes it fun.

WSL: When going into a big wave spot for the first time, what do you look for?
NL: I'll observe and look for lineups. Study what the locals do and how they move throughout the lineup. Watch the break on different tides and see how it dictates the wave.

WSL: Big Wave Tour events often run for one day. How do you take on mental challenges of a heavy wipeout in early rounds?
NL: I try and always prepare for the worst case. However my primary focus isn't prepping for wipeouts, it's preparing for wins.

Lamb's 10 from Punta Galea Final
Nic Lamb's 10-point ride at the Punta Galea Challenge BWWT event.

WSL: What do your parents or family think of your big wave riding?
NL: That can be challenging at times. They worry but trust and support me to follow my passion.

WSL: Can you tell us a few parts of your training regimen that keeps you ready to take on big waves?
NL: I do a mixture of strength training and Hiit (high-intensity interval training) cardio.

WSL: There's big swell heading to Hawaii, tell us what you're looking forward to most about the next event?
NL: I'm excited and very much looking forward to surfing more large surf! As excited as I am to surf these events, I'm equally always captivated by just watching the ocean with the best guys in the world. Anytime I'm out in the ocean I'm happiest, and when it's big and there's a ton of water moving I absolutely couldn't feel any better.

Nic Lamb on Big Wave Surfing
Santa Cruz surfer Nic Lamb shares thoughts on being a part of the Big Wave Tour.