WATCH: On It, The Movie

Jason Lock

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Updated 804d ago

Storms help to define our lives. We can acknowledge them, we can predict them and we can plan for them, hell, we even love them, because when the conditions begin to churn at sea, it means our collective community are about to share in an experience. But let's not try and be too grandiose about it. We know there's an art to reading and interpreting incoming data to get you (and us) into the right place at the right time. And it's this art that ultimately lets us all score more waves.

Last year, we predicted a lot of great waves and we followed four surfers across the globe to see exactly what they made of it all. The result is this, On It, The Art of Scoring, featuring slab hunter Nic Von Rupp, barrel master Brett Barley, Maui's big wave rider Albee Layer and north shore aficionado, Koa Rothman. Between them, they stacked thousands of airline miles, seeking the perfect score. And that's what we live for, to see you, the surfers, get the waves you want, no matter the conditions you prefer.

The full movie.

As surfers, being on it can mean a few different things. It's the ability to perceive and adapt, the want to chase and score, or chase and fail; but rinse and repeat til the sun goes down. It is the feeling of interpreting an incoming storm and analysing - it is a lifestyle and one that we're all committed to.

"Being On It?" says Mr Von Rupp when we ask what it means to him. "This is what we live for from day one of starting to surf. Chasing swells, being in the right place at the right time, not just in Europe but all over the world. That is the reality of our lives. Leaving families, getting pounded, long hours, back on the flight, repeat.

"When this concept came up, it made complete sense because this is how we live and it's a story we've not really told before. Oh, we all do alright at forecasting but when it comes down to the scientific side of things, we really rely on MSW to point us in the right direction."

But it's more than just crunching numbers. There's nuance in the seeking of swells; what is it you're looking for? Clean conditions and top-to-bottom waves? Huge paddle barrels? Slabs? "For me, personally, I'm looking for the conditions to align; swell conditions, size. We're looking for barrels, the perfect conditions – and sometimes it can be a battle," says Nic. "Spending a tonne of money, not being 100 per cent sure it's going to be good... sometimes that can suck. And sometimes, no one understands it, you know? Family members who aren't surfers, they just don't get it.

This is the kind of chart that we'd expect to light up shores around Europe, especially Nic's home in Portugal.

This is the kind of chart that we'd expect to light up shores around Europe, especially Nic's home in Portugal.

"It's hard to deal with the family side. It's one thing doing the CT or QS because you have a schedule, you know where you're going to be. With being On It, we could go today, tomorrow, you have to be 100 per cent available 24/7. But then, it's awesome, you know, chasing big waves, getting big barrels. I'd love to be everywhere over the world all at one time.

"Yeah it's a sick way to live but sure, it can be taxing, some as any job. There's surfing, charging, getting pounded and going home. That's the routine [laughs]. Very few times you come home and the sense of satisfaction where you're like, that was perfect. Nature does its own thing, most of the time, we just try to make the best with what we're offered."

Let's not forget, this is a crew who knows every nook of their coastline. Whenever a swell rifles in, they are already there, ready. Brett Barley can tell what's about to go down by just standing in a certain place outside his home. There's a breeze through his porch that funnels between two houses and washes over his face in just such a way... only a west wind does that. And when it does, Brett drops everything and heads to the beach.

Brett Barley, wrapped in the spitting shade of a keg, somewhere in Africa.

Brett Barley, wrapped in the spitting shade of a keg, somewhere in Africa.

"For me, being On It means, not missing a swell at home," he says. "I enjoy nothing more in surfing than scoring at home with friends. Due to travel I miss out sometimes, but if I'm home, everything stops during a swell and I do everything I can to make sure I'm on the best sandbar for the day.

"On It means doing sandbar recon so when the swell hits, I know where to look. And then in the summer, when swells at home go quiet On It means making sure I get to Namibia for the next tube time in the world."

For Nic, being pushed and driven by his On It peers helps him find definition and keeps everything in focus. I ask about trips with Albee and whether there's a Maui vs Europe rivalry. "Nah," he laughs. "We all push each other, sure. Seeing good surfing, seeing people just go for it, it's inspiring for sure. But you know, I think we're all just happy when we see someone surfing really well. And that drives us all to push each other."

And Albee? "Being On It? It really means you're never really on or off work, you live in the perpetual state of maybe."

We couldn't have put it better ourselves, now pull up a stool, set aside 30 minutes, crack a cold one and watch On It, The Art of Scoring.