We interview South Africa’s very own big wave surfer and local sports star, Frank Solomon. Currently ranked in the world’s top 10, Frank made it all the way through to the semi-finals in both Chile and Peru on this year’s Big Wave World Tour. Frank is best surmised by Royden Bryson, “Frank we all know charges, but put him on a 6 – 8ft slab and you’ll see he’s not all balls, the man’s got an incredible amount of skill and talent.” Here’s what Frank had to say to LW…
Full name: Frank Solomon
Hometown: Cape Town
Years surfing: 15
Sponsors: Reef wetsuits, Vida e Cafe, Puma, Versus Goliath
Injuries: Too many to list
Music of Choice: From gansta rap to Tool
Machine of Choice: Car
Biggest Wave Ever Surfed: Not big enough yet
Where in the world are the best big waves to surf?
I would have to say that Cape Town has some of the most amazing big waves in the world. It’s got more variety than any other place I have been to.
Where haven’t you been surfing that you would like to try out?
I would love to surf Tahiti but getting there is such a mission; it’s the furthest place you can fly from SA.
When is the best time for big wave surfing?
Winter is generally the best time.
What board do you use?
My standard big wave board is a 9’6 Bilt gun.
Explain your preparation before catching a big wave?
The main thing with big wave surfing is that you have to stay mentally and physically fit. You never know when that big day is going to come so it’s important to stay on top of your fitness. I generally try and surf every day and when I’m not surfing I like running and cycling.
Besides the obvious what would you say are the differences between big wave surfing and everyday surfing?
We have bigger boards, ha-ha! I think it takes a lot of commitment to be a big wave surfer; you have to realllllly wanna do it. There is no reward or millions of dollars to be made. You just do it because you love it!
What’s your ultimate career goal?
I would love to be big wave world champ one day, that would be insane and an absolute dream come true.
Which of your contemporaries do you admire?
Geez, I’m lucky to be able to call some of the best big wave surfers the world has ever seen my friends. One person I have always looked up to for his professionalism and dedication is Californian big wave surfer Greg Long. He is a true legend of the sport and is a super-nice guy.
What’s the best advice you ever received about surfing?
I dunno, that’s a tough one; surfing is such an individual sport. Every wave is different and every situation is different especially when the waves are massive. I can’t think of anything right now that someone has said to me!
Do you ever get scared?
Of course, I get scared, everyone gets scared. It’s just a matter of how you deal with that fear. Some people just freak and others love the feeling.
What’s been your worst wipe out?
I had a two wave hold down at Dungeons when we were towing, I guess that was my worst wipe out ever. There’s been a lot though; it comes with the territory.
When you wipe out badly how do you muster up the courage to go out and do it again? Is it difficult or easy because you love to do it?
After I have a bad wipe out I always try and get back out and get one more. It’s not always that you love doing it, sometimes after a huge wipe out you just want to quit. It’s more to get your mind straight so that the next time you surf you don’t stress too much about wiping out!
Who is your biggest supporter?
I’d have to say my Dad, he has always supported me. When I was a grom and was thinking about surfing Dungeons, I told him i was scared he was like, “Scared?! What the hell are you scared of?”. Ever since that first time I surfed out there he has been 100 percent behind me. Such a legend!
Have you ever done it on your board?
Hahahahaha!!! I must say I have never been asked that question before! And no, I haven’t. Boards break really easily. But hey, if the right girl comes along I’ll break a board for her!
Have you ever encountered localism and how do you handle it?
Yeah most beaches around the world have some sort of localism, I just try and be patient and just get on with surfing. Sometimes things turn ugly, and it’s a horrible side to our sport. I try my best to stay out of it.
Tell us about some of the places this amazing sport has taken you?
Wow, I have been so lucky in that aspect. I have surfed in Peru, Chile, Mexico, Hawaii and the Maldives to name a few. I was in Chile earlier this year for a competition and it is one of the most amazing places i have ever been to. Amazing food and incredible waves.
What’s been you best standing to date in a competition?
This year on the Big Wave World Tour I made the semi-finals in both Chile and Peru, and am currently in the top ten in the world, so this year has definitely been the best year I have had.
What do you usually do after a comp?
Drink lots of beers. Hahahahaha!
How do you celebrate a win or a good placing in a comp?
After most of the comps there are always big parties and especially in South America, the parties are crazy.
What’s the typical day like in the life of a big wave surfer?
Check the waves, surf, mb run or cycle, surf, eat, sleep.
Which coast has the best surfers in SA?
I’d have to say the East Coast, even though it might get me into trouble.
Whose your biggest competition and why?
I’m just kind of on my own mission trying to make things happen so I don’t really worry or stress too much about the other guys or what they are doing. I’m still one of the younger guys in the big wave world and yeah just taking it day by day.
What are some of your other passions besides big wave surfing?
I love eating. Ha-ha! I’d say that’s my other passion. Oh and I love beautiful woman but I guess what guy in the world doesn’t!