GETTING TO KNOW BRETT
This spring, we are getting to know Hawaiian South Shore manager Brett Martin a little better through monthly conversations about the priorities and life decisions that led to him joining the family here at HSS.
This month, Brett tells us about his early experiences surfing in Hawaii, and what surf spots on Oahu have become his favorite.
What was your first surfing experience in Hawaii and what were the conditions?
My first surfing experience in Hawaii was at Canoes, surfing a 9’0” longboard with a 2+1 setup that I borrowed from my brother. My older brother Brandon took me there the day after I arrived in Hawaii. He knew Canoes was a pretty mellow wave, so it was a good introductory wave for me here in Hawaii. Plus, it was a personal favorite of his. I’m super glad he took me there, because I had the fearful impression that every break in Hawaii was like Pipeline: super big, powerful and shallow. It was pretty nice to see Canoes first—a break that looked more like a playful water park than anything else. I was amazed at how clear and glassy the water was. It almost seemed like I was in a swimming pool.
The waves that day were waist- to chest-high—not too big, but still fun. It was nothing like what I was used to surfing in California. It was a little more crowded than what I was used to as well, and the paddle out was a little further than the waves I normally surfed in California. However, I was still able to catch waves and have fun. My brother loved Canoes, and I quickly came to understand why. I’m super stoked that Canoes was my first surf experience in Hawaii.
When was your first day surfing big waves?
My first day surfing big waves was when I surfed Haleiwa for the first time. I remember reading the surf report, and it said head-high to three feet overhead. Although that may not be big for some people, it was definitely big for me, especially at that time. Most of the breaks that I had surfed before that in California were barely ever head-high. I remember sitting on the beach for a while before paddling out, watching others surf. I just kept on telling myself, “I have to paddle out and catch a least one wave. I did not drive all this way to not paddle out.”
The regret of not paddling out haunted me even more than my fear! So I watched where others were paddling out, and followed them. Once out there, I was so nervous, I remember paddling for a few pretty big ones and pulling back right at the last minute, right before going over the falls. I finally worked up enough courage to just go for it. The first one I actually went for, I somehow made, and I was so stoked. Going that vertical, that fast all at once and making it down the line was an adrenaline rush like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I was hooked from that point on. To this day I still don’t surf anything crazy big, but I do like waves that are well overhead. No matter how badly I get pounded, I still continue to paddle out beyond my comfort zone in hopes of getting more of that adrenaline rush.
Why did you start surfing Lighthouse and how did you decide on that being your main go-to spot?
I think Lighthouse has become my favorite because I have had so many great sessions there. The first time I ever surfed there, I scored. It was only me and one other guy out. The waves were head-high and consistent. It was a little windy, but the wind was helping it more than hurting it because it added wind swell, which made it bigger than any other spot in town that day.
Ever since that time, it seems like Lighthouse is the place where I always have the most fun. I think that became my main go-to spot because it was the most convenient and consistent. It’s a short drive from my house, and not a super far paddle out. When I surf there are usually only three to five guys out at the most. Plus, I’m a regular-footed surfer and Lighthouse is mostly a right, and I have way more fun surfing frontside. And it just always seems to have waves, even when Town is flat everywhere else.