UK-born, West Aus moulded super grom Ned Hart is a young man with a growing reputation.
After scoring that recent Teahupoo swell at the end of May -- a trip that was two years in the making by the way -- and proving himself in front of the world’s best barrel riders, Ned's well on the path to carving his own way through our crazy surfing world.
Ned and his mother Adele are both currently staying with lensperson Domenic Mosqueira in Tahiti and took some time out of their day to sit down with MSW and talk through Ned’s story and the journey that took them from humble beginnings in the UK, to bus-sized barrels at the End of the Road.
Spot guide: Teahupoo.
“I’ve always liked the adrenaline of catching a bigger, gnarlier wave. I’ve wanted to send myself over the lip on anything, I guess.”
Ned moved to Australia with his English parents at three months old. “My Dad’s always surfed in England, In Aus he used to tow me around on a bodyboard at the water's edge, just skimming me around and it evolved from there. He was the one who also taught me how to surf.
“Dad would basically just push me into anything from a young age so I’ve never really been too scared of many waves, apart from Chopes because that’s terrifying."
Ned’s got one of those, ‘go big or go home’ attitudes, but there also sits a mature head on this young man’s shoulders. “I want to make a career out of surfing but don’t feel like I fit in the usual mould of the pathway it takes to be a pro surfer so I push myself in other ways, finding the biggest barrels and biggest swells and waves of consequence.”
Dude, the wipeouts feel like you’re being ripped apart
When Ned was just 13-years-old, ambitions surfaced of conquering one of, if not, the heaviest waves in the world at Teahupoo.
Training began in Hawaii, but then something called COVID-19 shut the world down. “It definitely boosted my ego to come over here and not be as intimidated. I say not as intimated because you still look at it and think ‘that is an evil looking wave.’”
Fast forward to 2022 and the plan remained. Train by surfing Pipeline as much as possible in preparation for the Tahitian monster. Ned’s mother Adele admits that the two year wait could have been beneficial to surviving the inevitable beatdown and pressure that comes with being in the lineup at Chopes.
“You can do all the training possible but you’ve got to be in the right headspace to go out and do it which is another challenge for Ned at his age. It’s hard to absorb that, especially with so much going on with all the boats and jet skis and camera crew. The locals have been great with him, he’s given respect and in-turn received it back.”
And how is it out there? “It’s the most perfect but terrifying wave in the world," said Ned. "It’s super dangerous because the waves pop out of nowhere and there is so much energy. It feels like the whole ocean is folding over onto this one slab of reef. The day I got that wave it was the gnarliest that I saw it because it was a super west swell, some of the waves there were no exit and you could fit a bus in them. I wanted to go out but wasn’t sure if I was capable."
And the beating he received? “Dude, the wipeouts feel like you’re being ripped apart. I stood up on this thing and it was already barreling 10 metres in front of me so I just had to stand in this thing with an amazing vision and I got lit up.
“I was just getting rag-dolled, have you seen that part in Avengers when The Hulk is just pummelling Loki into the ground? That’s what it felt like.”
How'd that feel for Adele to see? “I’m kind of used to watching it. He snapped his board on that one as well, but all the skis were there and I saw him pop up so it was all good."
Speaking of avenging, Ned didn’t let a slight beating put him off slaying this beautiful beast. “A few of the other guys were paddling so I knew this must have been an alright wave. They started screaming ‘GO!’
“It was an alright drop, like it let me in super nice and I was holding on and the whole bowl threw over and I could hardly see the lip it was so hollow. It’s the most psyched I’ve ever been for sure. I was paddling back and some of the guys were like ‘that was a sick one!’
“The people in the lineup at Chopes are some of the best barrel riders in the world; Nathan Florence, Lucas Chumbo, Russell Bierke, so that was very cool.
“West Australia can be quite heavy as well, but I’ve always been surfing with older guys and they would push me to go bigger and it would give me motivation, not necessarily to impress them but more to do it for myself and push my limits.”
And what's next? “I really want to surf Skeleton Bay, Shipsterns definitely. Probably head over to Europe, Ireland, maybe Portugal.”
And the immediate plan now? “Ned and I are out and about travelling. We’ve been in Tahiti for six weeks and will stay for another two or three swells probably. Maybe head back home afterwards or go to Indo.”
“It’s beautiful here”, Ned adds.