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Imagine being 19 and after surfing for only five years (mostly in Sidmouth – it’s so bad you’ve never heard of it!) and deciding to fly to Maui to paddle out at Peahi and ride it!

An hour before the world’s best big wave surfers contested this year’s Peahi Challenge a young Devon lad called Adam did exactly that.

Rewind a week and you’d have found Adam riding his bike out to the headland that overlooks Jaws to work out where the beach is so he could paddle out.

The following day he paddled into the world’s most forbidding take-off zone

The following day he paddled into the world’s most forbidding take-off zone – two hours of trying to paddle into these giant waves he got caught on the inside and after taking a couple of sets on the head he managed to crawl up the beach to safety. For most of us that would have been enough – not Adam.

On the morning of the Peahi Challenge Adam heads down to Maliko Gulch (you’ll have seen the pros launching here in countless videos) and asks the guys getting ready if he can get a lift – sorry Adam but there’s no room on any of the boats heading out to Peahi you’ll have to watch the action form the cliff.

19-year-old Adam Amin. More accustomed to surfing south-coast slop than the monster Maui

19-year-old Adam Amin. More accustomed to surfing south coast slop than the monster Maui

Undaunted he decides to head out through the closeout sets and paddle the 3.8 miles to Jaws. About an hour into the paddle a friendly waterman (Greg Long no less) takes pity on Adam and gives him a lift. After about 10 minutes there are six guys out; five big wave chargers and Adam. I’ll let Adam describe what happened next…

“We all spotted a huge wave in the distance and we all paddled for the horizon and I saw my opportunity to prove that I can surf Jaws so I turned around while all the others were paddling out over the wave and caught this monster.

“I caught it and rode down what seemed like a liquid mountain. I got to the bottom and looked up…. there towering above me was a face this sized of a two-storey house.

“When I looked back it felt like I was going to make it but there was a stretch of white water blocking my way and I got taken out – it felt like the ocean collapsed on me.

“I held my breath and took the worst beating I’ve ever had and finally made it to the surface. I then noticed a huge set coming towards me and I got pounded again and again by these massively powerful waves.

Adam on the back with Greg Long before the competition kicked off fully...

Adam on the back with Greg Long before the competition kicked off fully. Credit: World Surf League

“I was knackered and drifting very close to rocks until suddenly a jet ski rider picked me up and took me to safety. What a legend, he took me to the channel and the contest started.

“I watched the entire event from the channel for five hours while talking to all of my heroes of the sport in one place! I was in heaven!”

Think about this for a minute – I’ve surfed with Adam and he’s good but being good and thinking you can just fly over to Maui and paddle into Peahi are two very different things.

take Göran Kropp a Swedish climber who cycled to Everest and climbed it without oxygen

In extreme sports there are people who change the playing field, take for instance Göran Kropp a Swedish climber who cycled to Everest and climbed it without oxygen or support and then cycled home again or Jeff Clark surfing Mavericks alone for 15 years. These guys redefined what could be done and I truly believe this is what Adam has done.

Is this a step-change in big wave surfing? The established route to surfing these waves used to be decades of preparation, carrying boulders in crystal clear water on the seabed, holding your breath for five minutes and looking deep into your soul for the truth of the universe.

Here’s a young kid who hasn’t grown up on Maui but has dragged himself up on a diet of south coast mush and just casually paddled out into THE arena of big wave surfing and simply caught a wave!

Big Wave action from the Peahi Challenge comp. Credit: Glenn Tremble

Adam bearing down at the Peahi Challenge comp. Credit: Glenn Tremble

Could he have done it better or safer – of course but Adam isn’t rich, doesn’t have a support network of sponsors or the benefit of a childhood of Hawaiian surfing behind him – all he has is determination, focus and a pair of balls the size of Devon!

Last month you could have rented a board from him on Saunton beach – now he’s establishing himself as a big wave contender – inspirational?

Adam’s friends have since put together a crowdfunding page to help fund some safety gear if he does go on another ‘adventure’. Sounds sensible to us…

Words Toby Foster

Credit: Glenn Tremble

Credit: Glenn Tremble


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  • Jamie

    I met Adam this summer for the first time after I dinged my board in Devon, He fixed it perfectly! We chatted a bit and I just thought what a total dude he was. I now see this article and just think that this is what differentiates “normal people” from the pioneers. Adam is a humble guy with a goal in mind, and nothing is going to get his way. Clearly the big wave community agree, as does the Universe. Fortune favours the brave, Adam, you rock!

  • mark sankey

    Is this real or a scam?

    Why put the handwork in and gain the right experience, when you can Just go out there and get rescued twice and then ask other people to support your hobby.

    It definitely take real guts to out at Jaws, especially when your not ready, but it is unfair to expect people to risk themselves rescuing you because your not ready or to fund your own personal project.

    This isn’t a step-change in big wave surfing – it’s stupidity…

  • robin

    I agree w/ Mark. And to compare him to Goran Kropp, etc, is ridiculous.

  • Nathan

    OK. So, Adam did what most of us will have only ever dreamed of doing. Fair play, he really does have ‘balls the size of Devon’. However; unfortunately, the number of brain cells available appear to be in inverse proportion to testicular prowess.

    Whilst I don’t want to do the guy down at all, I was always told not to go in if you can’t get yourself out safely and, by his own admission, the guy would have likely drowned but for the pity and kindnesses shown by strangers; mercies such that the sea will never display.

    Great headline, but a cautionary tale if ever there was one.

  • My reaction was somewhere between Jamie’s and Mark’s. Considering Adam is only 19 with only local experience surfing and the whole world out there on the internet to entice him, I lean toward Jamie’s point of view. If he were older and well traveled I would say Mark and Robin are spot on – knowingly putting your life in other peoples’ hands is not the best call.

  • steve bailey

    Maybe not goran kropp, but I think you could make a case for jay moriarty.