CHASING THE DREAM TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD
by Brian Terhorst
Take a look into the life of professional big wave surfer Jamie Sterling as he plunges into his latest surf adventure tracking the biggest swells in the world and capturing it all on a GoPro video camera. Specifically, to the Qiantang River in southeastern China to shred the world-renowned tidal bore as it rushes through the city of Hangzhou.
The bore, caused by a massive tidal shift, is one of the largest known in the world. The tide rushing into the river mouth from the bay causes a bore which can reach up to 30 ft in height, and travel at up to 25 miles an hour. Known locally as the Silver (or Black) Dragon, the wave sweeps past Hangzhou, menacing shipping in the harbor, and is so dangerous that, until recently, no one attempting to surf it. This freshwater wave was first surfed in September of 2008, when a group of surfers convinced the Chinese government to allow them to surf there… Jamie Sterling was among them. This year he has done it again, with another similar group of world class athletes, they all travelled to China to experience the bizarre phenomenon.
We caught up with him for a quick Q & A:
Revolt In Style: So, how was China?
Jamie Sterling: It was really cool. Really unique experience to travel to China and surf a river right thru a city, it was pretty badass. We were in Zhejiang province, on the Qiantang River passing through the capital Hangzhou, and then flows into the East China Sea. The wave on the river that we surfed is created by the high tide of the ocean rushing into the river. The tide has no where to go but up river and creates a fat wave. It only happens on a full moon when there’s a really high tide.
RIS: How big is that wave?
JS: About six foot. It’s like an endless wave.
RIS: And how long does it break?
JS: It breaks for about two hours (he laughs) It happens twice a day but you can only surf it once – the second high tide is at night.
RIS: Who else went with you on this trip?
JS: Reno Makani, Kohl Christensen, Robert “Wingnut” Weaver & Mary Osborne. There were some Aussies there & some of the Roxy Team like Jenn Smith from San Diego. Quite a few athletes. I’d say there were about 15 of us there.
RIS: Who organized the event?
JS: This event was put on by Red Bull China
RIS: So Red Bull keeps you busy year round?
JS: That’s pretty much my job, that’s what I do. I train, make sure I stay healthy & prepare for these events and competitions as they come up.
RIS: Do you ever get time to rest?
JS: October thru April I’m at home in Hawaii, with the exception of chasing a few big swells in California to surf at Mavericks. And then April thru October I’m really busy traveling internationally, either for events on the World Tour or GoPro filming opportunities & making commercials. It’s been good. Pretty busy.
RIS: Speaking of filming, we just caught the screening of Chasing Mavericks & interviewed Jonny Weston. Did you get a chance to see it?
JS: Yeah I did, it’s really nice, I really enjoyed watching it. I knew Jay (Moriarity) He was a really cool guy, very down to earth. I thought they did a really good job of portraying who Jay was.
RIS: You shoot a lot of GoPro footage.
JS: I shoot a lot of my own surfing with a Go Pro, I’m sponsored by them & I do a bunch of film work all over the world for them. Everywhere I travel, I have my Go Pro, I’m always filming.
RIS: Where can our readers catch all that footage?
JS: Go Pro puts it up on You tube. I have one vid right now that has over 650,000 views. That’s my best one so far. I just shot a commercial for T-mobile it just launched yesterday on YouTube. I think it’s gonna get a lot of views.
RIS: Go Pro is coming out with a new version Hero 3.
JS: Yeah, it’s a little smaller in size and it’s faster & more powerful with better quality. Blu tooth, wifi remote control. It’s got more bells & whistles than other cameras. Definitely groundbreaking in the world of filming and for action sports for POV footage (point of view)
RIS: I see they just announced the invitees for the Eddie
JS: Yeah. Super stoked to get another invite for this contest. It’s a huge honor. It’s one of my biggest goals to win the event sometime in my career. The waiting period is Dec 1 – Feb 28
RIS: And of course you are also invited to compete at Mavericks this year as well.
JS: Yep, that waiting period starts tomorrow (Nov 1) thru march 30
RIS: We spoke with you a couple years ago, at the time you were working with Save The Waves Coalition, What are you up to now?
JS: Right now I’m working on a project Global Surf Adventures. Basically we’re traveling the world, it ties into a lot of filming, meeting a lot of cool people, athletes & musicians. Tying in the cultural aspect of every destination we go to. We’re creating small web clips. Trying to give the viewer a better idea of what it’s like to be me and my fellow pro surfers. More of a grassroots and organic way to look at things behind the scenes. In the barrel, the food we eat, the people we meet, the music, the culture, all those things.
RIS: How cool would it be to know what it’s like to be a local at these destinations, know where to stay, what to eat, where to surf barrels and how to stay out of trouble? Taking a surf trip one step beyond.
JS: Yeah, and bringing it all to TV & editing it all so they can view it on iPad or mobile phones. At the same time tweeting about it and putting it up on vidy.com – which is a new video platform even better than Instagram. Just using all the social media channels to get people to tune into the link when it happens. my tag is @jamie_sterls
RIS: Any other causes you’re involved with?
JS: I haven’t been able to work with them yet, but I want to work with Mauli-Ola Foundation. My travel partner Reno Makani has been doing a lot of work with them. Seems like a really good program to help out kids with cystic fibrosis. Taking them out surfing really helps with their ailment. So I’d like to work with them when they come out to Hawaii this year. Reno has a site renomakani.com
RIS: Tell us where our readers can link to you.
JS: My Facebook athlete page encompasses all the latest news. My photos are on instagram. My thoughts are on twitter and then videos on vide.com. Then my guide site is www.professionalsurfguide.com
RIS: Would you like to give a shout out to your sponsors?
JS: Yeah, of course. Thank you to Red Bull, Kaenon Sunglasses, Go Pro, Destination Surf, Future Fins, Rusty Surfboards, Sol Raiz Organics Maca, Yoga Earth, Lulu Lemon, Chansom productions. Thank you for your support.
RIS: Hopefully we’ll see you at Mavericks this year. Good luck this season with both comps & stay healthy.
JS: Ok. Thank you & take it easy.