datrip: You surely have recognized that the big wave world has put a lot of focus on Europe. Especially the north shore of Spain and Ireland already have delivered some epic sessions this winter (2007/2008). Have you already been to these places? Do you plan to go there soon?
Michi: Iīve already been in Ireland and the Basque country, but for “normal” surfing. Especially Ireland has incredible potential, as they get enormous swells over there and have so many points and reefs that it will take years to discover all of the big wave spots.
Too bad that I was pretty busy this winter (2007/2008) and couldnīt go when the big swells hit. The pictures from Playa Gris and Mullaghmore Head looked heavy. At the moment my jet ski is parked in France, I intended to ship it to Madeira or at least bring it to Portugal. Over there conditions with big swells are usually cleaner.
datrip: The European big wave surfers, especially the tow in guys nowadays stay in close contact. Are you linked into that community?
Michi: Not yet. Up to now I tow surfed mainly in Australia. Tow in surfing in Europe is still at the beginning; still every winter there is more and more pictures from Europe that alert the tow in scene. I plan to do a few tow in trips with Sebastian Steudtner, a German that tow surfs Jaws and Teahupoo. We met last year and I pretty enjoyed to meet a German with the same obsessions….
datrip: Generally speaking tow surfing has pushed paddle in surfing in big waves a bit aside. How do you see that, is this appropriate concerning the level of difficulty and performance?
Michi: Most of the time, tow surfing looks more spectacular, you can go to the lip of 50ft waves, only with tow assistance one can surf Shipsterns, Cyclopes etc. This makes it more interesting for the media, īcause everything always is supposed to become weirder and weirder. On the other side itīs a pity, because many people already donīt know how to value how difficult it really is to make the drop on a 40ft Waimea wave or why a surfer on a 12ft guns doesnīt go to the lip. Tow surfing definitely makes big wave surfing easier or, in some waves, is necessary to make them surfable but nevertheless you have to know how to deal with wipeouts and hairy situations.
Paddle in surfing will always have its place, but in mainstream medias we will see more and more freakish tow surf pictures.
datrip: Does tow surfing still has something in common with paddle surfing? Or will there evolve two separate sub-sports like longboarding and shortboarding?
Michi: Itīs already two different sports, still having the same goal which is riding a wave, but the approach is totally different. At most big wave spots groups and opinions already split and once in a while there is trouble when itīs still possible to paddle into waves that also are suitable for tow surfing. But most tow surfers are also respected big wave paddle in surfers.
datrip: What pleases you more, surfing with or without technical support?