Mark Visser

Mark Visser, Big Wave Surfer

When people talk fitness and extreme sports there is a name that is bursting into the scene, a young, likeable guy by the name of Mark Visser. Taking on the world's most respected surfers, he is leaving his mark on Big Wave Surfing.

Visser is one of the fittest surfers in the game having a disciplined training regime and 6% body fat. With single minded focus, Mark commits himself on all levels, both physically and mentally and has a healthy work ethic and drug-free lifestyle like no other.

With complete conviction, Mark mirrors the best to become the best and thrives on holding himself to a high standard where anything less is just unacceptable.

Mark has paddled-in to some of the heaviest waves in the world including Pipeline and Teahupoo. Places such as Waimea Bay and Mavericks were simply a natural progression into big wave surfing, where his heart lies. His focus is now primarily on competitive tow-in, specialty big wave and tube riding events.

Based in South East Queensland, he represented Australia in the Junior School Boy's team and has competed on the World Qualifying Series for the past three years.

Visser is a marketable athlete with versatility and wide-ranging appeal, making him a dream candidate for his sponsors.

Mark Visser will become the very best at his sport. His passion, drive and sheer talent will take him all the way.

Let's show our support for this great sporting legend in the making as he surfs his way to the top. (Credit: Mark Visser official website)


The call of the wild
(Credit: The Weekender)

They're young, they're ambitious, they've got the X-factor and they're quickly rising to the top of a sport where big talent equals big dollars. Meet our latest crop of surfing superstars.


Like a nightmare, these monsters form out of nothing, building in size as they heave ever closer to land. They swell with gargantuan volume and ascend to heights that dwarf whole villages. At their terrifying peak they reach a crescendo like a vertical river bursting its flood-ravaged banks and unleash a natural fury that surges back down to earth with unfathomable force, obliterating everything caught in its thunderous, sometimes murderous wake.

Everything except, maybe, that death-defying breed of daredevil known as the big-wave surfer – the only creature fearless (or crazy) enough to risk life and limb for the thrill of a ride this massive and this lethal. But sometimes, tragically, even they get swallowed up by the walls of water.

Buderim’s Mark Visser - who has just been nominated for the biggest wave ever surfed in Australia after successfully riding a 17-metre wave when freak swells hit Western Australia’s coast a few weeks ago - claims it a calculated risk. If his training diary is anything to go by, you must give him the benefit of the doubt.

The 25-year-old is the disciplined picture of perfect health you would ordinarily expect from a medal-winning Olympic champion, not a radical surfer dude.

At 74kg, 173cm and 6 per cent body fat, each week the finely-tuned athlete completes five massive sessions in the pool, pumps through three intense gym sessions, undergoes two extreme altitude training sessions (including air-less hill sprints that start only when Mark has expelled all the air from his sizeable lungs), surfs twice a day and finishes every evening with a half-hour yoga stretch. This is someone who can hold his breath underwater for up to four minutes. As he says, in his field it’s a necessity. “I can hold my breath for a long time and that’s all I need to know and I can do it without air already in the lungs and keep swimming,” Mark says.

“My kind of training prepares you for the most extreme thing you’re never going to face. So when people look at me and say, ‘You’re psycho, you just surfed that wave’, I think well, not really, the training I do is three times as psycho as the 20-second hold-down I just got. I’m totally prepared. “You must be so disciplined,” Mark continues in an earnest tone. “If you make a mistake, it’ll be a big mistake. It’ll either cost you your life or cost you big time.” Spoken like a man who has put a hole in his elbow and grated his back.

What isn’t so readily quantifiable about Mark is his business acumen.

Managed by Pat Rafter’s brother, Steve, Mark is the only charge other than the former tennis champion on Steve’s coveted books. The pair met when Mark was a junior shortboard surfer starting out on the popular World Qualifying Series four years ago and the sports-accounting specialist soon offered to become his manager. Mark jumped at the chance. Since then, they’ve negotiated sponsorship deals with Nestle, Musashi and Pacific Brands and, while Mark’s image is already splashed across global products, there are more projects and products in the pipeline that will ensure the world will be seeing much more of this local lad - both in and out of the water.

“I don’t want to be just a surfer,” Mark admits ambitiously. “I also want to be a very successful businessman.” For now, Mark’s competitive sights are firmly fixed on becoming the best big-wave rider in the world. He has high hopes – 30m high – of riding the biggest wave ever surfed in the world (the record stands at 25.6m at Jaws, Maui) and he plans to push the limits of what can be done on big waves, using his shortboarding background to introduce manoeuvres never seen before on the big stuff.

It has only been a year since Mark made the decision to pull out of the shortboarding WQS and turn his attention to bigger things.

His nomination for surfing Australia’s biggest wave is the highest peak in his big-wave career to date, but he realises he is just a speck in the ocean of a sport where the sheer size of the waves (anything below 10m is not considered big) dictates the novice or master will always have a long way to go.

“I admire anyone who’s above me in the sport,” he says. “The QS guys look at the big-wave guys and say, ‘Yeah but they just stand there’. That’s not it. The big-wave riders are the gladiators of the sport.

“It’s like the heavyweight of the sport and, in that, I’ve got a lot to learn and I’ll enjoy the process.”


For aspiring grommets, getting paid to surf the best waves in the world sounds too good to be true. Yet one Noosa local is living the dream. Contracted by Rip Curl as a free surfer, Lee Wilson travels to idyllic locations with a film crew in tow, poised to capture and record his form on the water. If the shots are good the photos will grace the pages of international surfing magazines, while video footage is snapped up by some of the best surf-film makers.

As both a competitive and free surfer, Lee gets the opportunity to carve it up with the world’s best, yet also gets paid to hone acrobatic surf tricks that aren’t part of the competition platform. With a passion for both the competitive and progressive aspects of the sport, Lee has devoted the year to filming and competing in the 2007 Indonesian surfing championship.

He is leading after winning the Quiksilver Open Keramas in Bali and edging out former World Champion Tour surfer Jay Patterson in the Rusty Rumble at Sanur Reef. “Beating Jay was just awesome,” says Lee, who admits he’s quite competitive when he gets out on the water. “I want to beat everyone, but before a contest I just focus on having fun, because that is when I surf my best. “When I am all serious and too focused I end up falling off or doing something stupid. But if I am having fun everything seems to come into place and the puzzle fits together.”

Yet surfing hasn’t always come easy to Lee, who remembers crying when his dad first sent him out into the deep. “I started bodyboarding when I was five and then when I was eight I started standing up. “I liked bodyboarding close to the shore with my friends, but Dad used to kind of make me go out into the deeper ocean where all the big waves were. I’d be really scared and cry, but I guess I thank him now for doing it,” he admits with a grin.

Having appeared in numerous international surfing magazines and videos, it’s obvious these days the 22-year-old doesn’t think twice about launching off a wave and performing a 360-degree aerial. “Whenever I go out on the water and train I’ll try and do a different trick on every wave,” he says. “I don’t necessarily make it every time, but I think it is important to build up a big repertoire of tricks.”

One he is currently working on mastering is the rodeo clown, touted as surfing’s most lucrative trick. “If you can get a rodeo on footage, it is worth a lot,” explains Lee, who hopes to emulate eight-time world champion Kelly Slater’s aerial dynamics. “The rodeo clown is like the hardest trick in surfing at the moment. It’s a back flip but you have to stay on the board the whole time. There’s no cheating. “I have been trying it all year and have got the flip down every time. It is just a matter of landing it now and getting it on camera.”

While Lee’s life sounds more like a dream holiday, travelling to exotic locations such as Tanzania, Bali and Micronesia in search of perfect waves, he does take his surfing extremely seriously and is determined to climb the ranks. “I do see surfing as a job,” he says. “The work has to be done or I will lose my contract, so I guess it is a job at the end of the day. “But I am extremely lucky, I know that for sure. There are a lot of people digging holes in the heat and I am out there surfing and getting paid for it and there’s nothing better than that.”


He’s the poster boy for Quiksilver and has just won a best performance by a male award in a surf movie. Is there nothing Julian Wilson can’t do when he hits the waves?

The Coolum teenager’s win out of the water has certainly helped ramp up his profile and he’s a wanted man on the surfing scene. Between competing and shooting movies there’s very little time for anything else. Only last week Julian (no relation to Lee) had to fly from Japan, where he was filming for Australian Surfing Life magazine, to the US for the Surfer Poll Awards. He stayed just one night, collecting his gong for Young Guns 3, before high-tailing it back to the waves.

At 18, Julian is the youngest winner in the category and he's still coming to terms with the significance of the honour. “It’s probably the biggest thing so far in my career,” he admits, ranking it alongside his victory over eight-time world champion Kelly Slater on the Gold Coast earlier this year in the Quiksilver Pro. “It’s pretty awesome, this is boosting (my profile) heaps.”

So, does he have any thoughts of following in Kelly's footsteps and dipping his toe into the acting pool? “Nuh, I'll leave it in the water,” he laughs at the thought of any Baywatch-style appearances.
But he couldn't say no to the Australian premiere of Young Guns 3 in Bondi on Friday night, even though he's seen the movie a million times” and is competing in the Australasian junior pro series at Manly.

“It’s pretty easy. All I have to do is hang out and watch the movie, and then have an early night,” he says, dismissing any thoughts of heading out to the after-party.

Julian admits it's been a spectacular year – “and I thought last year was really good” - after his 2006 world junior championship win, so who knows what 2008 may bring. What had been keeping him focused was the second last event in the pro junior series and the 3000-odd points he needed to find to overtake Maroochydores Mitch Coleborn’s lead. Unfortunately Julian dipped out early in the weekend’s Manly event as Mitch claimed the 2007 ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series.

After the constant travel Julian looks forward to spending the rest of the week at home in Coolum where he will just chill out and play a bit of golf. It’s a rare treat as he calculates he’s only spent about a month or so on the Coast this year. So many other commitments have claimed his time, but fortunately his brother Bart, who also acts as his manager, is there to handle some of the pressure.

Julian says the increased exposure he's been getting hasn't been too bad, though, as it's all fairly surf-related so it's not too far out of his comfort zone. And as long as he's surfing, he's happy.



Mark Visser official website

Mark Visser YouTube - Network Ten 'Sports Tonight'

Mark Visser YouTube 'Big Wave Surfer - The Journey Has Began'


18th November 2007



Big Wave Surfing

Media Man Australia

Sports News