Milosky Mettle

The Milosky Mettle was created to recognize the North Shore surfer who best embodied the legacy of Sion Milosky — not just rushing big waves, but also being a strong and humble human. This season, SURFING narrowed down the finalists to four surfers. We watched them in the water and got to know their character. Vans put up $5000 for the winner and offered a matching donation to the Sion Milosky Memorial fund.

And so, after seeing his performances at Jaws and the Outer Reefs this season, his initiative in organizing a CPR class for big-wave surfers and just being an all-around good guy, Danilo Couto was chosen as the inaugural winner of the Milosky Mettle award.

The Milosky ohana had this to say: "Danilo is a good family man who embodies respect for those around him and the sport. His actions are strong and for the right reasons."

Mark Healey agrees. "Danilo has always been humble and let his surfing do the talking, and I'm glad to see he's getting the recognition he deserves."

So what will Danilo do with the recognition and prize money? He's going to…well — let's just ask him.

Danilo Couto. Photo: TarasDanilo Couto. Photo: Peter Taras

SURFING: You've won the Milosky Mettle award.

Danilo: Wow. Thanks so much! I got chicken skin now. It's such an honor.

S: It's well deserved.

D: Wow, I'm really stoked bro. It has a very special meaning for me, just from meeting Sion and seeing what he represents to all the surfers and the community here. He always had such a respect for treating people well and taking care of the family and all his friends. Seeing how his legacy is carrying on you can feel everyone actually trying to be like Si.

S: Yeah, it's inspiring to see that really be perpetuated. So…what do you think you will do with the money?

D: I want to put the prize money toward the safety of the big wave community. Maybe toward a Jet Ski for big wave rescue, to help provide specific apnea training or start a fund to hire a rescue crew for extreme sessions…hopefully it will be the first step of many toward a safer environment for big wave surfers.

Danilo Couto. Photo: Ian Strickland
Danilo Couto, deepest on the peak at Peahi. Photo: Ian Strickland

S: Can you talk a little more about that?

D: Well, I have a bunch of ideas that go from the beginning to the end. The physical and mental preparation, the equipment and all the stuff you do before the big day comes. Having a water safety crew that will be watching you and just trying to avoid things going wrong, but that if something does go wrong, you're prepared. Making sure they're all CPR trained and have the equipment and can communicate with land.

S: Right, just making sure everyone's on point every step of the way.

D: Yeah. The idea that I have is to make a program that provides training and makes sure you're prepared, that you know how to drive your ski and can do rescues. Hopefully we could have some workshops with other experienced big waves surfers, 'cause there's a new crew coming up and all of them now have the floatation devices and the spare air, which is great, but you might be building a weak generation as far as survival. Because if all of a sudden none of their equipment works and they're on their own, they're gonna panic. And with everybody pulling in right now, the chances of these big boards hitting you on the head are higher than ever. Those new kids, imagine how gnarly they're gonna be. They're gonna be stalling with their butts and pulling in more and more. We need better safety.

S: That's a good point.

D: Yeah, and maybe to have some sort of certification, like you can come over here to get tested: can hold your breath for that long? Can swim this amount of yards? Is your cardio is really good? Can you drive a Ski? Like what they do for the lifeguards.

S: Right.

D: Anyway, that's the raw idea. It might change, but I want to get more people involved and see what's real and what isn't. What can we do out of all of these ideas?

S: Well it seems that you're on the right track, and we're excited that you've won this award and will be working on all of this. Congrats man this is all really rad.

D: Thanks man. I'm very, very honored.