Tom Lowe has been spreading his wings down the West Coast of the US and Mexico, ultimately fulfilling a lifetime ambition and surfing Todos Santos for the first time in late January. For those of you unfamiliar with this wave, it is really called Killers and is Baja’s most famous big-wave spot, 20km (12mi) off the the mainland, located just off Islas Todos Santos. It is also the favourite wave, and second home of Gary Linden, the Big Wave World Tour director. And he knows a thing or two about waves of consequence.
How was it out at Todos for the first time Tom?
After getting one of my worst beatings of my life at Mavs a few days before the Todos swell, I felt confident. Other messed up beatings I've had would be Aliens when I did my shoulder the first time, then Mully on the one I tried to paddle few years back, becoming part of the lip in the process. With the recent one at Mavericks I didn't get a breath for two waves, even though I pulled my oxygen and had a vest on. So yeah, coming through that one has helped my mindset, not only for Todos but in going back to Mavs on the next swell is help by the fact that I got a few small waves on the bowl following the wipeout, I felt as good as i could driving down the coast to Todos.
On the boat ride out we were followed by a pod of dolphins, a good omen in my eyes and there were 20ft on sets that evening. And guess who I bump into but none other than my old slab buddy Sancho. What are the chances of that? I was thinking I was the only European to ever surf out there on a big swell (not my main reason for going mind) but those were the vibes from Rusty and Greg Long.
Sancho and I shared a solid 20ft set together, I was stoked to surf with him and Alan, they both charged hard, sitting deeper than anyone. We shared plenty of bombs, the vibes were cool and we were just feeling the wave out and pushing one another. That first surf out there was so special for me.
The next day was super dreamy, sunny, glassy, just the Todos day you would imagine. It pumped from dusk till dawn, but had less power and size in my eyes than the evening before. I stayed out most of the day dreaming into 15ft plus glassy bombs. It feels like a drop at Aileens x2. You're dropping down forever, that's how it felt anyways, and I snagged the tallest wave I've ever paddled for sure.
Who did you go with?
We were out there with the Vodafone and Vice crew which was cool. I've been filming with them for the past month, in Ireland, Canaries and finally Cali. The project's called Vodafone Firsts, its all about their technology helping people to achieve something special for the first time. For me it was to paddle the biggest wave of my life at Todos Santos, and my dreams came true. Technology wise they sorted me out with the latest tablet, which once I'd figured out how to use helped me track swells on the road, as well as pin point where the hell we were going. You don't really want to get lost driving across that border, it's doggy as. I'm not such a stone age dude anymore, who knows, I might even start an Instagram or Twitter account soon.
Janni my girlfriend and I flew out together from Canaries to meet the Vice crew in LAX, 8 or so people would join the crew for few days then leave again, really cool crew, full of charactors and it ended-up being a wicked road trip.
Was it as big as you expected?
Yeah it was big, Mavericks was bigger a few days before, there were 30ft sets at Mavs, I saw Shawn Dollar paddle into the heaviest wave I ever witnessed live. It was 25ft from the back, easily, he just turned and went as the thing was pitching, made it to the bottom too, then got smashed. Didn't see him again that day. Twiggy the same, got one bomb and got out, and Alex Martins got the worst wipeout of his life the set before Dollar's huge crazy set which he was way deep on.
But big respect to Alex for sticking that drop, and even going on a wave that crazy, you wait till you see pictures from that day. In my opinion they kept that session under the radar because of the Mavs comp two days later, they didn't expect the waves to be that big and thick i reckon, it was next level out there. Greg Long was going on every second set, the way they all committed under that ledge and stick the drop, I learned a lot from those guys in that short time, and can't wait to one day get my 20fter of the bowl.
How's this latest West Coast experience been for you?
Since Todos i been cruising in Encinitas with Janni, got some friends there so hangout for few days, we picked up a 5'0 fish and a single fin from Chris Christensen, then hit the points like Swamis and that, now we are in Sequoia National Park for a while, hiking and hugging trees, it's far out man. I could live here. I really could dedicate myself to Mavericks and Todos, and be happy. They have it all over here, snow and sun, Yin and Yang, like Ireland and Canaries all in one, well not the waves of Ireland of course, but the weather. I would miss the barrel time I get in Ireland if I did live here, so I couldn't do it forever. Yeah I love Cali, but Ireland will always be where my heart is.