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Friday, June 24, 2011
Updated: June 26, 10:55 AM ET
Healey on Healey

Mark Healey had a six-hour layover at LAX. He was on his way back from Tahiti after catching one of the best swells of the early season, where he'd caught one of the better waves of the swell. Who knows where he was off to after this, probably a demolition derby or sky diving or swimming with Great Whites. Fact is, he didn't even really know ... and he never does. I reckon he's like the Chuck Norris of surfing.

I'd gotten a call that he was just kicking it in the Bradley International terminal and didn't have anything to do. I guess he figured he couldn't get into too much trouble in the airport, so I picked him up on the curb and we went down to Hermosa Beach to have lunch and shoot this interview. When I asked him about being dubbed an "adrenaline junkie," he refuted the title. "I'm a challenge junkie," he responded, inferring that it's not necessarily the thrill he's after, rather the challenge of getting through a near-impossible situation. There are a lot of big-wave guys that take themselves very seriously, as they probably should considering what they go up against, but Healey's a classic, self-depricating character. He kept referring to himself as merely a "sea donkey," and for every heavy situation he's gotten himself into he's got a dozen jokes to weave into the narrative.