Each year surfers push the bar a little higher, the limit a little further. Once they do, there’s no going back. Remember when Waimea was the mecca of big waves? Now it’s a warm-up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still gnarly, but not this gnarly. When jet skis entered the arena, it was a game changer that shifted the physical limits of what was possible… which leads us to the V1 wetsuit from Billabong.
Equipment has always been important in providing a competitive edge in surfing, and throughout the years many of these innovations have been adopted into the mainstream. But big wave surfing is far from mainstream. It requires a level of dedication and commitment that isn’t reflected in the 50-foot glory of the XXL Award videos. Elite big wave riders are literally straddling the edge of human capability, where simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can cost you your life.
Unless you’re capable of surviving a two-wave hold-down, you really have no business owning one of these things. Just like you don’t throw on a spacesuit and launch into the atmosphere. It’s troublesome to imagine someone simply waltzing into their local surf shop to buy one. So just who does Billabong think they’re going to sell these to?
More importantly, what happens when it doesn’t inflate? It’s certainly a possibility. The canister could fail and suddenly you’ll need to actually swim to the surface. Much like the jet ski made big waves accessible to anyone who could afford one, the V1 has the potential to lure unprepared surfers into conditions they would be uncomfortable in without it.
There’s no doubt the V1 will unlock a whole new level of big wave performance, just remember, there aren’t any shortcuts to preparation and experience.