Atlas Shrugged

Who is Ian Walsh? Who is John Galt? Photo: Kanoa Zimmerman

I am in love with beautiful things. With warm, jasmine scented air. With Paul Smith button-ups mostly unbuttoned. With the soft soft skin of my honey babe. With the architectural design of Richard Neutra. With Ian Walsh's Cloudbreak barrel as big as the Kaufmann House. Proportionally it is almost perfect, yet it is so much bigger than even big. It is a towering example of excess. It is the American economy. Ian, sitting in Cardiff by the Sea's precious sun, recalls the wave:

"I knew it was going to be huge when the horizon went totally blue. The whole horizon. And as I was getting whipped in I could see it stacking up down the reef. I had been getting waves all day that weren't barreling right at the end so I had decided, before I took off, that I was going to fade a bit and then pump through the section on my next wave, no matter what. So that's what I did.

I faded and the lip pitched over and I knew how huge it was because it was so empty. It was so empty in there. And I was pumping and I could feel the foam ball behind me and I had no idea if my fins were going to hold or not. There was just so much pressure sucking up the face but I could see the end and I thought I was going to make it.

I could feel the wave getting ready to spit and then the foam ball hit the back of my board and that was all it took. My board squirreled out and I was flying, got cart-wheeled across the face and then went over the falls. The wave pushed me all the way to the ground…I was on my knees. And I tried to get to my feet so I could force myself to the surface but it felt like two waterfalls were pouring on my shoulders. Finally I was able to get to my feet and I pushed up just in time to get one breath and see another wave as big as a two-story sushi restaurant about to dump on my head. But, yeah, it was a good wave." —Ian Walsh

It was a beautiful wave even. Maybe the barrel of the year, though it is not in the XXL Monster Tube competition. I spoke with Bill Sharp, the commissioner of big-wave surfing, about this, and there was an unfortunate mix-up involving magazine covers and untimely events. Nothing personal. Bill loves Ian Walsh's surfing. He loves Cloudbreak barrels as big as Hollywood's Marathon Apartments.

And who will win the XXL's Monster Tube? Shane Dorian? Tom Dosland? James Hollmer-Cross? Mark Mathews? Eric Rebiere? I say Mark Mathews. I once did the Bra Boy handshake with Koby Abberton after too many drinks on Australia's Gold Coast. I was wearing something amazing. —Chas Smith

Chas Smith writes frequently for SURFING Magazine and is at the moment en route to Los Angeles for a night on the town, and perhaps a Lil Wayne concert.