Mark features on the cover of Define Magazine this month with an article inside titled "The Pursuit of Perfection"
Traveling the world, seeking adventure ,throwing yourself into the most vicious of our planet’s elements for that one shot of ultimate adrenaline - this is what a big wave explorer yearns for. But it’s not all fun and games. In this issue we get inside the mind of our very own big wave prodigy Mark Visser to discover the darker side of big wave riding is filled with intricate research, intense training and brushes with death.
At just 28 years old, Mark Visser has pushed his body and mind beyond ordinary conventions to achieve the impossible. While being faced with a 40 foot wall of water might strike the fear into any mans heart, Mark Visser turns the power of the ocean on itself and conquers big wave after big wave. To onlookers, big wave surfers might look mad for diving nose first onto such monstrous waves, but year round training and preparation goes into this extreme adventure sport. Just finding the swells is a full time job. “We have a full time weather man surveying 48 locations around the globe 24/7,” Mark said.
“We are generally given a 10 day window for awareness that a swell might be loading up in a certain part of the world and then if reports stay consistent it is a four day window until go time.” But it takes a lot more then nerves of steel to ride on the big waves. The level or not only physical, but mental training required to overcome defeating such a powerful force of nature is intense. “Physically we simply do a lot of core strength training, paddle drills, underwater training, body tests and breathing techniques,” Mark said. “And it is all supported by good nutrition and organic foods from The Natural Foodstore.” Mark can hold his breath underwater for an impressive six minutes, but on the calibre of wave he surfs, sometimes that wouldn’t even be long enough if he got dumped. In the event of that happening, Mark has trained himself to remain calm and as in control as he possibly can be. “Mentally I rely on the training and research that I have put in place prior to any journey,” he said, referring to his months of consistent preparation leading up to a swell. “I always try to relax and get into the environment at the time so I never miss a small detail even to the point of visiting locations in the off-seasons to dive and explore what might be under the ocean.” Mark explains there is always an element of fear present in mind but he can use calming procedures he has learned from some of the world’s best free divers and SAS militants. “They offer techniques for breathing, blood contractions and mental ability during times of uncontrollable chaos like bombs going off,” Mark said. “Surfing these situations can be similar at times as the surrounding environment is simply not in your control.” By understanding these techniques he can rely on a mentally prepared state in most situations including those that might be life threatening.
And his training isn’t in vein. Any wave Mark gets might just be the one that gets him, but his preparation might just save his life. When Mark was asked about his closest near death experience he took a deep breath as if his mind was flooded with close calls, near misses and thoughts of what if. But it was a memory from the early days when he wasn’t so prepared that takes the cake as he started to recall the day he got his nickname Lungfish. When Mark was 20, he and his good friend and professional surfer Anthony Walsh endeavoured to try out big wave spot, Log Cabins in Hawaii while no one else was out there. Crowds of spectators lined the beach to watch the boys tackle the monstrous waves when Mark wiped out and disappeared under the wave. Mark was held under by the wave for close to 45 seconds before finding air, only to be pushed down again by another giant. Onlookers watched on in horror at Marks ordeal and were convinced Hawaii’s monsters had claimed another young life. Mark was dunked by yet another wave before finally finding a reprieve and paddling to safety.
While a battering like that might turn most surfing enthusiasts away from big wave riding, it only spurred Mark on further. “I was only young and had had very little training at this stage,” Mark said. “The lack of adequate mental and physical training caused me to panic because I didn’t know what I was doing.”
The experience sparked a determination in Mark to grow stronger, become fitter and develop the skills necessary to become the best big wave surfer that he can be. Always chasing the thrill, Mark is currently involved in a project that takes big wave surfing to the next level. Earlier in the year, Mark achieved a world first when he caught 30-40 feet faced waves at Jaws in Hawaii in total darkness. Mark’s wet suit and board were decorated with specially engineered LED lights that ensured the wave and board were lit in the right places, at the right time and illuminated the wave without hindering not only his vision, but the jet ski drivers or the helicopter pilots. Mark was towed into the infamous break right through the peak of the swell at 5am by a jet ski while his team watched on from a helicopter above him. Mark and the team stayed out until 5.50am. The project that has come to be known as The Night Rider was filmed as part of a documentary called 9 Lives.
“We have been working on the Lives project for four years now a team of business partners, coaches, scientists and trainers from all different fields,” Mark said. The Night Rider will be launched coming weeks.