If there's a man that can be said to have done it right in the surf world, it's Mike "Snips" Parsons. His career has included a top professional competitor, surf explorer, big wave legend, contest director, tow-in partner, marketing consultant and Board of Director for Surfing America.
Born in California in the mid-1960s, Parsons carries with him the humility, intelligence, a good-natured grin, and fearlessness in conditions of consequence. The combination has made him one of the worlds’s most respected and revered wave riders.
Parsons grew up in San Clemente, California, where his dad first took him surfing at the age of six. He started competing professionally at nine years old and was a mainstay on the professional surfing tour from 1984 to 1996 reaching the top 10 and achieving a very respectable competitive career. But after retiring from the contest arena, he started traveling to remote places in the mid-’90s in search of big waves, seeking an even bigger challenge. Parson's has been at the forefront of the Billabong XXL contest, winning the inaugural event in 2001 with his jaw-dropping 66-foot beast at Cortes Bank.??Over the course of his 30-plus-year career, Parsons has undergone four knee surgeries, broken his nose, and had stitches “pretty much everywhere” on his body. He’s been circled by sharks—twice by great whites—and after one particularly bad ride, a surfboard fin sliced his leg deep into the muscle.?
When not acting in his latest role as contest director for Billabong World Tour events, Snips continues to push the boundaries of big-wave surfing, paddling and towing into some of the largest and most challenging swells ever surfed.
To train for competitions Snipps surfs every day for as long as there are waves and does cardio exercises, including swimming and mountain biking to strengthen his lungs. He sometimes carries rocks on the bottom of his pool to simulate what’s it like to be stuck on the bottom of the ocean and have to struggle to get to the surface. He can generally hold his breath for two minutes.
When not putting his pilot's license to good uses (scouring the Pacific coast for remote wave setups) Parsons continues to up his game in the big-wave surf scene.
In 2005 he towed big wave partner Brad Gerlach intro a 68 foot monster at Todos Santos Island in Mexico, which won the Billabong XXL award for that season. Then in 2008, Parsons broke the history books when he once again stamped his name on the lineup at Cortes, this time catching a wave that was measured by XXL officials at 70-plus feet, setting a record that still stands. For a surfer well into his 40s, breaking records of that caliber don't come along often. Articulate, astute and still humble, with a wife and child, Parsons was inducted into the Surfer's Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach in 2008. He remains one of surfing’s finest ambassadors.
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