Hanging out with the champ
BIG wave bodyboarding pioneer Mike Stewart had some amazing stories to tell and tips to pass onto local riders during his visit to town.
The nine-time world bodyboarding champion reflected on an illustrious career of taming the world's monster waves.
"I have been fortunate enough to get some really good waves in my life. I've lived an amazing life and it's been an amazing journey," Stewart said.
Of the huge wave riding sessions he has endured, Stewart has only copped two injuries in the surf - a row of stitches in the hand from a reef cut at Shark Island and a busted shoulder at Kirra Beach during his first time on the super bank.
"When I surf I try to be pretty calculated, I take risks, but they are calculated risks," he explained.
"Even on big days I'll go out, and for a whole session I won't eat it because I'm real careful. I'll approch it real slow, I want to make sure I get back in."
A pioneer of big wave body surfing, Stewart said the most important thing is to remain calm and relaxed when trapped under the whitewash.
"Anyone who surfs in good sized waves I would strongly encourage you to learn about static apnea and all the different breathing techniques you use for holding your breath underwater."
And that's coming from a guy who can hold his breath for three-and-a-half minutes.