News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by
Arts & Entertainment

Australian pro surfers hunt for bigger and better waves in 'Storm Surfers 3D'

Still from the film
Still from the film "Storm Surfers 3D."
Storm Surfers 3D

Listen to story

Download this story 4MB

Old surfers never die, they just keep putting themselves in potentially lethal situations. That's the moral of a new documentary called "Storm Surfers." The film follows Ross Clarke Jones and Tom Carroll, two Australian pro surfers who continue a pilgrimage for the perfect wave even as they approach middle age.

The pair joined Take Two to talk about what motivates them to put their lives on the line, why they chase bigger surf and how growing older has changed how they view the sport. 

Interview Highlights: 

Tom on the title, "Storm Surfers 3D":
"First of all, we've got to find the storm, get ourselves right in the middle of it. We're looking for storms out to sea. In "Storm Surfers 3D," we're using our weatherman, Ben Matson, he taps into where the storms are, we figure out how the swells are going to effect a certain reef, and we're trying to hit those specific points of interest where the waves are going to break the biggest. Sometimes, a storm hits us, that's the exciting part of it."

Ross on the constant search for bigger waves:
"Maybe my body will cave in before that desire to do so. I'm not sure. It's an insatiable need for more and for speed, faster, bigger. Tom and I have been doing this for 25 years. It might come naturally and just wind down."

On how aging has affected each one's approach to surfing:
Tom: "It's actually helped me realize that I do need to pull back. There's been some injuries just recently. In 2009, I got an injury that sat me on my butt for about 6 months. Things like that get you to check in on what's really important. I think it's necessary as I get older to understand what the risks I'm taking really are. I want to be around with my kids and my grandkids…These projects I do with Ross, as I'm getting older, that voice is just getting louder. At certain points, it's getting louder."

Ross: "I am three or five years younger than Tom, but even myself, I'm actually beginning to be more calculated, believe it or not. It might not appear that way, but I used to throw myself off buildings, literally, into waves that were impossible to make. And I knew I wasn't going to make them, but I'd go because I wanted to go."

Ross on the possibility of dying while surfing:
"I want to live as long I possibly can, and enjoy living as much as I possibly can. There's one wave in the film where it gets me in the back of the neck at a place called Pedra Branca. I literally thought this could've been the last go. I went into neck surgery the following day and, in my mind, I thought, 'You know what? I'll be fine. I'm going into neck surgery tomorrow, they'll fix it. The car will be in the mechanic's shop tomorrow.'"

Tom on advice for younger surfers:
"Get to know the ocean as best as you possibly can. She's always moving, she'll always surprise you. Never take your eyes off her. And get used to understanding her. The only way you can do that is by spending a lot of time with her. I talk about the ocean as a her because she's got her own way. She'll have her way with us at any moment. Really keep an eye out, and spend a lot of time surfing, doing it, practicing and live it."