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Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Updated: April 8, 7:01 PM ET
Heavy conversation with Brett Barley


Brett Barley is sick.

Barley's logging and blogging his tube time.

Not like "Brett got a sick one at Pipe this year," or "Brett said the Lighthouse was sick today," but like he's actually sick. A wild brother virus to influenza has rendered all the standard flu meds useless, and at this moment the 22-year-old Buxton, NC, pro is probably dripping snot on his keyboard.

Brett's been spending a lot of time on the computer lately, painstakingly piecing together clips for an Innersection submission, most of which was shot by his wife Casey. This might be the breakthrough exposure he needs to prove to the online masses that he's legit on all levels -- hack attacks, air assaults -- rather than just a flare-up in Lighthouse lefts and Volcom Pipe Pro heats.

At the very least, it should draw attention to his blog. Plenty of the sport's antiquated pros feel that such outlets are a pretentious and narcissistic gimmick designed to steal the thunder from photo sluts or competition-oriented athletes. But this game's all about exposure. The truth is there aren't enough magazine spreads or heat slots to go around, so like it or not, blogs are here to stay.

And unlike photographs, video doesn't lie. Here's what the Outer Banks brightest prospect had to say about it all ...

ESPN: I thought pro surfers' wives were supposed to be vacant-eyed models or frantic mommies. How'd you talk Casey into becoming your video mule?
Barley: She likes it! She just likes filming barrels, though. We'll show up somewhere good for airs and she'll be like, 'It doesn't look very good.' We got the camera over a year ago with the sole purpose of getting clips to draw more people to my blog, which equals more publicity, so the camera will pay itself off. Casey works for Daniel and Kate Pullen managing their business, so she had to cut her hours down to do this Innersection.

It's not just Pipe bombs and wooly days at the Lighthouse for Barley.

What kind of footage can viewers expect that they haven't seen on your blog?
I didn't have the best season over in Hawaii, so I just put all that footage on the blog. But after spending so much time at Rockies, I really got hungry for air clips. No one films around here [Cape Hatteras] unless it's two-foot overhead and barreling, which would be pretty boring for an Innersection. Hopefully when I get back from Scotland I'll have a few air and turn clips to mix it up, make the section more diverse, and show I'm not just a barrel guy. (Check Barley's Youtube Channel here.)

You mentioned Scotland. So you do plan on competing this year?
I'm doing WQS contests just to keep my seed for Pipe. The Puerto contest, Portugal, events I think I can do okay in -- where the water's cold or there's a barreling wave. I'm going to spend a lot of time in Mexico this summer, because it's the easiest place in the world to get barreled. But what I'd really like is to get into the Teahupo'o [Billabong Pro] Trials in August. After Innersection, that's my big goal, but I don't know if that will happen because every barrel guy in the world wants in that thing. I've never even surfed there.

Barley likes Mainland Mex because it's the easiest place to get barreled. Go figure.

Describe your blog. Is it grindhouse rat-core like Wade Goodall's or dystopian art flake like Dane Reynolds'?
I wanted mine to be more like Sterling Spencer's a bunch of random, funny stuff. I totally dig the artsy stuff but I like to laugh a lot more. It's just hard to find inspiration around here. I have to create all my own content.

Therein lies the challenge. Assuming you gather enough action clips that you feel are up to par, how visually appealing do you feel your hometown waves will be to Innersection's globally broad voting panel?
Good, I think. The Lighthouse is the gnarliest wave on the East Coast. More often than not you get humbled instead of getting a good one. When we get a good north swell, it lines up like a point and gets so below-sea-level you can't paddle into the best ones. Or if you do, it usually passes you by and you get slammed. When the sandbar's good there are sections where the lip is thicker than the barrel. It's definitely the most challenging wave out of anywhere I've ever surfed.

You can't say the man doesn't travel, but it's hard when you get the most tubes right at home.

That's quite a claim, considering your big-wave experience. Tell us about the heaviest day you've ever seen at the Lighthouse.
We had a massive nor'easter in November 2009. Joey Crum and I were surfing the wrap over in Frisco when about an hour before dark the wind went WSW, so we bolted to the Lighthouse. We along with the rest of the Lighthouse crew -- Russell Blackwood, Kevin McCabe, Freddy James -- watched 20-foot faces break off the jetty. None of us had ever seen it that big that close to the beach. There have been bigger days, but this swell was sneaking past the outer bar and hitting right off the jetty. Thirty minutes before dark I decided to paddle out, just for the sake of getting to look into one of those monsters. Halfway out a piling floated by me. The only thing I can say to describe it is "brown Pipeline." I know that is a pretty big claim, but that's what it looked like. I couldn't even catch a wave. I got sucked 3/4 mile down the beach on a shortboard, luckily grabbed one that mushed outside, and made it in. It was too top-to-bottom for anything smaller than a 6'8". I will always remember what I saw that day. So sick.