Living vicariously is not an option for these fierce five.
LIFE’S AN ADVENTURE, BUT FOR THESE FIVE THRILL SEEKERS, LIFE IS FULL OF ADVENTURE. WHETHER IT’S CLIMBING ROCKS WITHOUT a rope or harness, pushing the pedal to the metal on the speedway, freediving in the ocean, bow hunting or chasing the biggest waves in the world, there’s one thing they all have in common-the rush when personal limits are pushed and surpassed. Let the adventure begin…
The Arch. The unicorn Brothel. The Future Cave. These are some of Justin Ridgely’s favorite places to boulder in Hawai’i. Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is done without ropes or harnesses on small rock formations, and practiced over “crash pads” or portable mats. “Movement [on the rocks] is normally more powerful and dynamic,” says Ridgely, an active and avid member of Hawaii’s bouldering community.
Originally from Maryland, Ridgely started bouldering 13 years ago in Chattanooga, Tenn. while attending school. A friend invited him to go rock climbing and introduced him to bouldering. Since that first experience, he was hooked. “I’ve been living it ever since that moment,” says Ridgely.
In any extreme type of sport, there is always a rush. With bouldering, Ridgely describes the spike of adrenaline coming from heights, bad landings, sticking a hold that seems non-existent or making a really difficult movement. “I’ve become really addicted to the feeling of accomplishment from bouldering,” says Ridgely.
It would seem that climbing a rock and hanging from one point to get to the next is purely physical, but bouldering takes a lot more than strength. “I definitely feel like the mental aspects are definitely greater than the physical,” he says. “Some problems definitely require a bit of fitness, but there’s a lot of thought process that goes into it.
A lot of climbers compare it to chess.”
Although a seemingly individual, personal goal-oriented sport, bouldering is very social. During indoor or outdoor practice, there is camaraderie and encouragement from all participants. Everyone shares the joy in getting a good hold or successfully going through a difficult sequence of moves.
Upon moving to Hawai’i in 2010, Ridgely realized there was no training facility for rock climbing or bouldering in Hawai’i. In order to train, as well as build a community around the sport in Hawai’i, Ridgely opened the first Volcanic Rock Gym in Kapolei in March 2010; the second location in Kaka’ako opened in April 2013. Through Volcanic Rock Gym, Ridgely’s passion for bouldering can now be the passion for others here, too. www.volcanicrockgym.com
Garrett McNamara admits he was resistant, at age 11, his mom told him the family was moving to O’ahu’s North Shore. But soon, those fabled waves won him over.
“Once we got here, there was no going back,” he says. “This will always be my home.”
However, “home,” or rather, “home base” for McNamara of late has been wherever the big waves are pounding.
This past January, McNamara made history-and broke his own world record-by surfing a 100-foot wave in Nazare, Portugal.
It was a fateful trip beyond the break that got McNamara hooked on the big waves. “I was about 17 years old and my friend gave me good equipment and took me out to Sunset on a 20-foot day,” he explains. “I had so much fun … I became addicted to big waves.”
There’s no doubt that rush surfing giants does nothing but fuel his desire for more. “It’s like skiing down a mountain with a bunch of super icy moguls and then, an avalanche starts chasing you; and instead of running from it, you want to stay right underneath it.”
These days, McNamara makes chasing those monster waves around the world his mission.
That race to find swells has taken him around the world, including Jaws, where he won first place in the Tow Surfing World Cup in 2002; and Alaska, where he and Keali’i Mamala hunted down tidal waves created by calving glaciers. Their adventures were documented in the film, The Glacier Project. While future films are possible, they won’t be a repeat of his Alaska trip. “That was the scariest thing I have ever done and I would never do it again,” he says.
His 2013 wave beat his previous 78-foot wave record-also set in Nazare, back in 2011-that landed him in the Guinness World Records. Of his record-setting ways, he says he doesn’t feel any different, “I’m just a lot more busy!” In between the busyness of hunting down those monster waves, McNamara enjoys a quiet life hanging out with his wife, Nicole.
Where will his search for the next big wave take him? “Most likely back to Europe!” he says.
FAST AND FURIOUS
The throngs of people watching; the sound engines revving; drivers overtaking at the chicane on the final stretch. Being part of the crowd is one thing, but actually driving the same circuit as Formula 1 greats- that’s an experience that’s hard to beat.
43-year-old Shim Ching may be a plastic surgeon by trade, but for the past five years, he’s made it a point to leave the scalpel behind in Honolulu every once in a while to do just that. As an amateur racecar driver, Ching gets to fuel his passion for the sport-one country at a time. “I’ve been very lucky where I’ve been able to go with this,” says Ching. “There are a lot of famous racetracks and locations in Asia that are used for Formula 1 that I’ve driven on. Just in terms of being able to participate in motorsport as an amateur has been great.”
Three or four times a year, Ching makes his way to Asia and brings his Porsche 997 GT3 Cup Car out of storage. From the roadways of Macau to the streets of Singapore, Ching relishes the whole travel/driving experience. He’s excited at the prospect of being somewhere without being a tourist and instead, having a definite purpose for being there at that particular point in time.
Back to the famed F1 circuit, Ching has participated in actual Grands Prix as a support racer-support races are those held prior to the main event. And though Ching has no real desire to be the next Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel, he’s having a whole lot of fun in the fast lanes that he does have opportunity to traverse.
DIAL “H” FOR HEALEY
So who do TV networks call when they need someone crazy enough to do their adrenaline-pumped bidding? Hale’iwa boy Mark Healey has a tendency to say “yes” first, then ask questions later. And why wouldn’t they give him a ring? Many are familiar with his surfing prowess, but the 35-year-old thrill seeker is also quite the diver-whether free, cave or sky.
His adventure-lust has taken him freediving with great whites sharks while spearing ‘ahi. And on more than one occasion, he’s assisted in the filming of a few television shows for National Geographic. Healey jokingly likens himself to a bull-distracting rodeo clown, in the sense that he was there to grab the attention of underwater predators so the cameramen could get the footage they needed.
Thankfully, Healey has not been victim to any massive attacks-just nibbles on his fins from reef sharks at most. He’s duly (if you can call it that) prepared for encounters with great whites though.
“I’ll have something in my hand, usually a spear gun (unloaded),” says Healey. “But it’s used sort of like how a lion tamer in a circus uses a chair. It’s not because it’s a spear gun-it could be a broomstick-but it’s something that’ll give you distance between you and the shark. If you have to, if [a shark] opens its mouth, you put [the spear gun] in its mouth, and it’ll instinctively bite on it before, hopefully, it ends up with your arm.”
Still, like more and more people these days, Healey believes great white sharks are not the vicious killers that they’re often portrayed as.
At press time, Healey had just agreed to go to South America to ride a “tidal bore” up the Amazon River for ABC’s Nightline. A tidal bore is a phenomenon that occurs “when the Earth, sun and moon are all in alignment-the gravitational pull causes these great, big waves called bores, which go upriver,” Healy explains. “It’s just a three-hour car ride and 16-hour boat ride up a river.”
PREYS OF GRAY
Ralph Gray couldn’t conjure a clearer image of what he goes through when he’s out bow hunting: “You need to be very quiet, move slowly and stalk your game. Once in range, as you pull back your bow string, your heart starts to pound-like the feeling you used to get taking off on a big wave or riding that crazy roller coaster. They call it deer fever… Bow hunting is very visceral-you feel in tune with your body and your hunter-gatherer forefathers.”
When the Manoa Valley resident isn’t brokering the sale of an ocean-side estate, you might catch him setting his compound bow in hopes of snagging a wild boar, sheep, elk or deer. And while Hunger Games may have given rise to the number of bow hunters out on the prowl, 50-year-old Gray has been doing it for two decades and does so without the fanfare that seems to have stemmed from the film.
“In reality, most hunters just enjoy the quiet outdoors, appreciate good quality organic wild meat and want to spend time with their kids in the outdoors like their father or mother did with them,” says Gray.
Rifle hunters know they can probably target their prey from 500 yards, as opposed to using a bow. “[It] is a much more intense form of hunting. You get face-to-face with the game. Most bow shots are within 25 yards. It’s also quiet and you’re more [aware of] nature and everything around you. One snap of a twig and the game is running.”
Gray goes hunting about two to three times a month, either alone or with a group. Additionally, he happens to be his own teacher; Gray records his hunting adventures so he can learn from them. With luck, you may be able to learn from him, too-if his future plans to create a bowhunting DVD come to fruition.