Living on Maui, Walsh had basically grown up watching the infamous ‘Jaws’ do its thing. When Hawaiian hellmen started towing into offshore reefs, Walsh was just a kid. But by the time he was 20, Walsh was a fixture among the mountains of water. On January 10th, the first big swell of the year, Walsh let go of the rope and careened down the face of a 70-foot wave.

“I had gotten a few good waves that morning already, so I decided to fade a little bit deeper on that one. I hit a bump and lost some speed, but that put me right into the a place at the bottom of the wave that I thought I was a little too deep,” recalls Walsh, “I could see it starting to pitch in front of me already so I just took a bottom turn as hard as could and ended up being right in the pocket.”

Photographer, Tony Harrington captured the image, and Walsh’s life was changed. He earned runner-up for the Billabong XXL Awards, behind legendary North Shore waterman, Pete Cabrinha, but his name was forever etched into the halls of big wave riding.

“I went on a snowboarding trip the next day. When I came home a week later and saw the photos, I couldn’t believe how it looked. I was just really lucky to be on that wave.”

But for all the notoriety it bought, Walsh knew it could also dangerously peg him as strictly a big-wave surfer. Yes, he has won his share of big wave awards, taking third at the Excel Sunset WQS 4-star in 2004, and first in 2005, as well as third at the Pipeline Pro in 2006, but Walsh is one of the best surfers in the world, in any conditions.

“It’s huge for me to prove myself in everyday surf,” says Walsh. As easily as he can tackle a 70-foot maneater, he can bust air-reverses at the local beachbreak, “For my career and exposure, I need to be well-rounded. I’m not really worried about being pegged. That was just a good day, with a lot of media on hand.”

Walsh turned pro in 2001. Now 23, he’s a confident standout in any conditions, and known for his selfless nature. Walsh spent a couple years climbing the ranks of the World Qualifying Series, but took most of 2006 off to travel and shoot with some of the best lensmen and filmmakers in the world. He won The O’Neill Mission, a specialty event that took a group of surfers through Tahiti’s best waves, took part in the RB5X Fiji, and snowboarded the mountains of Chile. It was a relief to step away from the grueling contest circuit, but Walsh now has a new focus. This year, he plans to attack more WQS events, aiming for a slot on the WCT. It’s something I want to do. I see myself getting there in the next five years, even if it means groveling at a few contests.”

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