With retrospect as his guide, Makua’s new training regime has him starting early everyday. But with a family that also needs his attention daily, the goings have never been tougher.

“I’ve been getting up at 5am every morning to train running, doing abs, and various exercises. But things are a lot different now. I have a son, Thor, and beautiful daughter, Nalia. So it’s next level trying to balance training and family responsibilities. But it’s all great and only makes me a stronger and better person. There’s no better blessing in the world than having children. I just want to be able to provide a wonderful life for my babies.”

As the new year approached, Makua was to be presented his BWT World Title trophy at the XXL Big Wave Awards in California, but before he could be properly awarded, a substantial swell popped up and the 2015 BWT season was on alert with wave activity headed to Chile. All energy was immediately diverted to South America and the Hawaiian big wave champ was on his way to Pichilemu, Chile in defense of his title.

“I wasn’t able to attend the XXL Big Wave Awards due to this contest. They had to actually fly somebody down to present me with my world championship trophy for the awards show.”

With the BWT World Champion trophy added to his momentum, Makua was pumped going into Chile. And with waves not as big as predicted, surfers were able to push the progression envelope a bit more with Punta de Lobos offering various opportunities to get barreled and do turns. Makua did just that, knifing into some of the biggest backside barrels of the event. Making it to the finals, Makua would fend off the stacked field with two 8-point rides winning the first BWT event of the 2015 season. This validated his current reign and provided a jump start toward a BWT championship repeat. But although Makua was already on cloud 9, he was furthermore captivated by the Chilean lifestyle.

“Chile is a beautiful country and I wish I had more time to spend there. The food, the people, the culture, the aloha, everything. You can surf and go snowboarding in the day, catch a helicopter back and have the finest dinner at the best restaurant in Santiago.”

Travelling is one of the biggest parts of professional surfing and Makua has done a lot of it… maybe too much.

“All in all, traveling is beautiful. At 5 years old I got my passport and by 6 I was in Tahiti and I never stopped. My passport is more than full – I’ve had to get additional pages put in a few times over. It’s been a life of travel. Basically a trip to a different country every week and a half. Music in Brazil, going to Chile for surf, then going to Japan for music… It’s been a roller coaster of fun and I’m really, really blessed to have this life.”

Traveling far and wide, working as a professional musician, surfer and being a father is no doubt an exceedingly large handful of responsibilities to juggle. But when you’re Makuakai Rothman, you just have to stay positive, have fun and just go out and do everything to the best of your ability. But that doesn’t mean everything is picture perfect. Makua does have to jump over some unique hurdles that only a select few enjoy (or suffer from).

“I do have instances where my professional surfing and music life conflict. For example, I will go to Tahiti if I’m in the trials for the WSL event. But if I’m not, I will go to New York to play music with Donavan (Frankenreiter). It’s a dilemma, not a problem. I could be contemplating worse things (laughs). But when you have the choice between traveling to play music to entertain crowds or surfing perfect waves in an exotic place around the world, it’s a pretty good dilemma, I’m very blessed.” 

Of course this was an easy segue to talking about the last Tahiti swell and what he thought about some of those monster rides. Makua touched on Nicco Porcella’s wipeout and Keala Kennelly’s iconic waves. Of course, Makua didn’t hold back…

Niccolo Porcella’s wipeout was a novice mistake.

“It was totally avoidable. It was the wrong spot, the wrong time. If you straighten your legs at the bottom of the wave and lean back… bad things will happen. You put yourself in danger, then the jet ski guy is trying to rescue you in danger. That was just the worst possible spot you could be in, over the falls in the lip as it hits the flats (shakes his head). How do you even get yourself there?”

In stark contrast, Keala Kennelly was the hero of that day.

“Keala Kennelly is an animal! That’s not your average wahine, you know? It kind of looked like my brother Koa’s wave a little bit. Unlike the wipeout guy, Keala has skills. She made it to the bottom of the wave, bottom turned, pulled in, tucked into the barrel (clapping hands). Job well done Keala.”

All in all, Makua was content not being there for this one.

“I’m glad I wasn’t there. I don’t want to be there when a girl takes out all the boys (laughs). Then that guy got the worst wipeout I’ve ever seen, so I’m also very glad I wasn’t around for that either (laughs).”

As the 2015 Big Wave World Tour continues, all the competitors are constantly watching the swell activity around the world in deep anticipation of when the next Big Wave event will commence.

“I just want to be ready when the next big swell hits for these next 5-6 events on tour. Between that I’m always checking the swell maps to see where any other spots could be good. Maybe take the family on a trip somewhere to relax and have a good time. My recording studio is where I’ll be working on my second album and some new tracks that could be coming out soon. Other than that, I’m just a local boy having a good time on the North Shore.”


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