Ibon Amatriain

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Ibon Amatriain:

That 38 year old basque surfer started to surf in Zarautz at the age of 6, scored his first witer sessions in the area after he finaly got his first wetsuit at hage 12 and still lives in Zarautz. Despite having quite a few memorable trips on the score boards to destinations like Sumatra and Tahiti he still calls Mundaka his favorite wave and never misses a big swell in the area. Definitly a homeboy but much more than “just” a local heroe. His reptation as a big wave charger, be it at paddle in or tow in, has spread around the world and he is a respected member of the world wide big wave surfing elite.

We managed to ask him a few questions:

datrip: When did you start surfing big waves?

Ibon: That was in 89 in Hawaii and from that day on I realized that our coast at home is a much better place to catch big waves than we imagined.

datrip: Has there been someone who brought you to start surfing big waves?

Ibon: In Guipuzkoa there was not many people surfing big waves when I started. For many years I was more or less alone surfing big waves, only once in a while Kanguro, another surfer from Zarautz who loved surfing the big days, joined me.

datrip: What fascinates You about big wave surfing?

Ibon: Surfing big waves is one of the things that I like most, even so itīs sometimes connected with fear. Itīs something that only happens at few days in a year and therefor I try not to miss any swell. If you miss a big wave session you wonīt be able to get it back. Dropping into a big wave is something that makes me very happy and is of great importance for me.

 datrip: What were your most memorable big wave sessions?

Ibon: I had many very good sessions, I canīt decide which was the most remarkable one. The session of February 17th 2006 at Playa Girs was the one with the biggest media echo but I had many less spectacular sessions that are burned into my memory.

datrip: What makes – for you – the difference between surfing big waves at tow in and at paddle in?

Ibon: To catch a big wave paddling is something of much more valour. You are much more exposed, the risk of getting caught by a clean up set is much higher and the drop in is much more difficult. That’s why when making it the satisfaction is very big.

Tow in is much easier, but you’re not allowed to make many mistakes, because for mistakes you have to pay. You can ride waves that are impossible to catch paddling and you have everything much more under control but there is still risk.

When you catch 3 or 4 waves at a paddle session it’s a great day, you can be satisfied. If you do tow in you can multiply this number by 2 or 3.

For some, tow in surfing weakens the surf. For me, it completes it. If there wouldn’t have been tow in many waves that we now surf, would have stayed unsurfed, and because of this aspect I think that tow in surfing has been something very positive for surfing. I also think that one can misuse tow in but that is a problem of the person, not of the way to surf.

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photo by David Rascon from natural surfing.com