…don’t be fooled by his mellow behavior. He stands strong and fearless amongst his ‘Hellman’ peers. Two wave hold downs are the norm these days…
Raised on the North shore of Oahu, Aaron Gold grew up surfing large waves. He’s well known for his surfboard shaping abilities in Hawaii, but he’s now becoming a contender in the sport of big wave surfing. Charging huge waves like Jaws in Maui, Waimea Bay in Hawaii, Cortes Bank, and Mavericks, California, just to name a few. Aaron is happily married with a new addition to the family Avaleah.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Aaron on a trip out to Cortes Bank. He’s a super humble and friendly guy, but don’t be fooled by his mellow behavior. He stands strong and fearless amongst his “Hellman” peers. Two wave hold downs are the norm these days, but Aaron is confident in his strength, endurance and training. Unfortunately, as a new comer to Maverick’s surf scene, there was no room for him to compete in this year’s Invitational. Watching him surf Cortes bank first hand, I am confident that he would have been amongst the finalists!
RIS: How old were you when you began surfing and when did you get the desire to surf really monstrous waves?
AG: I first started surfing at around the age of 3 or 4. Growing up in Hawaii, surrounded by water, we tend to get started early. My passion for surfing large waves started around the age of 12 or 13. It was my first time surfing Waimea with my Dad Glenn and Uncle Bruce, the waves were 10 to 12 foot and just starting to brake on the boil. I basically sat there for 2 hours trying to shoulder hop one. When I got the word it was time to go, I knew I couldn’t just paddle in. I had to get at least one. I ended up taking off on a 10ft, foamy double up that went completely square, got pitched with the lip, and got totally hammered. At some point in between praying for my life and coming to terms that this was how I was going out, the wave let me up. I’ll never forget that feeling, something snapped in me, I had walked the line, and I have been hooked ever since.
RIS: How long have you been shaping surfboards and who’s your inspiration?
AG: I started shaping boards around the same time I started surfing larger waves. My Dad shaped boards and was one of John Carpers first team riders. They would work on boards together and then my dad would make my boards like his but smaller. Some of my favorite memories of my dad were watching him shape and the smell of the glassing shack. I eventually decided to give it a try, and have done so off and on since that time.
RIS: Do you shape your own boards?
AG- Yes, for about the last 5 years I have been building most all my boards, shaping, glassing, and sanding, the whole deal. I really enjoy it.
RIS: Do you still like to surf smaller waves or is that boring for you now?
AG- Surfing is special to me weather it’s big or small. The beauty of surfing is that there are so many feelings, each one unique in its own way, that’s what keeps you coming back. I love the feeling of throwing down a big turn or doing a big air just as much as I love catching a bomb, or getting a huge barrel. To me it’s about the challenge, and if you are pushing yourself personally and having fun doing it, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small.
RIS: What was your most memorable surf session out at Jaws?
AG- My most memorable session at Jaws so far was my first one. It was the one Dave Wassel got the Billabong XXL award on. It was 25-30 foot.. Big, mean and windy. I didn’t get the best waves out there that day. In fact, I got the two worst beatings I’ve had so far, but it was all new, and a new beginning of things to come. I’ll always remember it.
RIS: Considering the downgrade in size at The Mavericks Invitational do you think they should have cancelled or continued the event and why?
AG- As a big wave specialist we always lean for it to be huge, so we can challenge and push ourselves. None the less the conditions were highly contestable, and each surfer has the same opportunity to win. I think all in all, the event was a success. It may not have been as big as we had hoped, but ultimately the contest directors weighed it out and made the call. Everybody had a good time, some great rides went down, and the sport of big wave surfing got some well deserved exposure.
RIS: What is the biggest wave you have ever ridden?
AG- I get that a lot. The truth is… I’m not actually sure. If I had to guess I would say somewhere between 25 to 35 feet 50-70 foot face. Sometimes it’s not always the biggest wave that’s the gnarliest, and so far the gnarliest wave I have surfed is Jaws.
RIS: What sort of cross training are you involved in or do you just stay in shape by chasing large surf around the world?
AG- Training is definitely super important when surfing big waves. We are only as good as our preparation, and being prepared for the unexpected is where training comes in. I do a combination of running in soft sand to build stamina/cardio. I swim varying strokes to change my breathing pattern/ cardio, and I skin dive to work on holding my breath. All above, combined with surfing regularly, help me to stay prepared.
RIS:What tips would you give to someone inspired by you to surf large waves?
AG- My best advice would be to take it slow, work your way into it. Know your abilities, and be familiar with the spot you want to surf. Spend the time watching, preparing, and checking it out when it’s flat, (bottom, currents, winds, etc.) And lastly, if possible, ask the locals. You’d be surprised. More often than not, they’re willing to share knowledge with you… if you are respectful.
RIS: Besides your wife and toddler, who supports your addiction for chasing down large surf?
AG- At the moment my only sponsor is RLM wetsuits Japan. I am currently seeking new sponsorships. Aside from this I am surrounded by a great group of friends at the Mission North Shore, and my big wave rambling partners Ben Wilkinson, and Kohl Christensen. And last but not least the Lord Jesus Christ, who is always watching out for me.