Video: Surfer attempts one of world’s heaviest waves while on fire
by Zoe Dickens
As one of the world’s greatest surfers Jamie O’Brien has pretty much done it all. He’s tamed waves in Mexico, Indonesia, Fiji and Hawaii, lived his entire life at Pipeline and regularly competes in the biggest and most prestigious surfing competitions on offer.
So what do you done when you’ve done it all? Set yourself on fire apparently.
As part of his new television series Who is JOB 5.0, O’Brien headed to Tahiti to attempt one of his greatest surfing moments: mastering a Teahupo’o barrel wave while set alight.
The resulting footage is predictably breathtaking. O’Brien’s wetsuit is doused in gasoline and lit from a canister. The surfer then heads into the wave which quickly begins to curl over him. Of course, O’Brien’s perfect timing means he escapes the barrel just seconds before it comes crashing down.
Although the filmed attempt went perfectly, this type of stunt involves some obvious dangers and O’Brien admits he burnt his eyelashes and eyebrows in a previous test run. Of course, you don’t just set yourself alight without a little protection so O’Brien was forced to wear five layers (weighing around 15 pounds), which included two of the best wetsuits and a thermal undersuit, to avert any serious burns.
“The first wave I went for, I lit up and someone said, 'You're on fire!' I looked to the right and this flame just wraps around my head and it sunk in,” O’Brien told Red Bull of the experience. “I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm on fire for real!' After that I just had to forget about it and surf, y'know? I took off and pulled in and got this nice barrel and as I kicked out I was wondering if I was still on fire. I jumped off the wave and the water was the perfect extinguisher; the ocean put me out straight away.”
Having already tried his hand at tandem surfing the world's biggest waves, it’s hard not to wonder what O'Brien's going to do next. While others may be put off by surfer Mick Fanning’s recent shark attack, we have a feeling that such an encounter might be right up O’Brien’s street.