When humility, passion, risk taking, mother nature and service collide: Ian Walsh. The Maui native has been tackling massive waves around the world since he was a teenager and his longevity and experience in the water shines through, whether he’s in an elite contest, performing for the cameras, or purely riding for himself.

He’s pursuing mastery and willing to go to the ends of the earth to find the waves that give him an opportunity to test his limits.

From about the time he could walk, Walsh was in the ocean. Growing up in Maui, he’s been surfing for as long as he can remember. And by the time he was a teen, he started to seek out bigger and bigger waves.

When Ian graduated as valedictorian from his high school, he could have had his pick of colleges, but instead he chose surfing. He made the unconventional decision to follow his passion versus follow the safer path.

His decision paid off: by the age 19, he was runner up at the Billabong XXL Awards after riding a 68 foot beast at Jaws, and numerous other nominations followed. But for Walsh, none of that mattered. He was always chasing waves to understand himself, and nothing else.

He’s ridden everything from Jaws at its most rugged to a maxed-out Teahupo’o in Tahiti, to an enormous swell off the coast of West Africa. The thing that drives his journey to the next big wave? It’s psychological and it runs deep within him.

In 2014, Walsh showed up at the one of the largest days at Jaws he’d seen in years. He was there to surf, naturally, but also to film a shot for the remake of Point Break, the legendary 1991 surf movie

In 2003, he launched the Ian Walsh Menehune Mayhem Surf Event, a youth surf contest that honors the up-and-coming surf talent in Maui, as well as their academic achievements. The event has continued for over a decade and in addition to awarding top surfing, it also honors athletes with the highest grade point averages.

My hope is that after listening and learning from Ian, you’ll have richer insights on humility, passion, service, and risk-taking.

Keep Carving Your Path,


“The feeling after your mind is scared and telling you not to do something, but you successfully do it, is a far greater feeling than most things I’ve ever felt in my life.”


In This Episode:

  • The purpose of surfing etiquette
  • Importance of persistence
  • The moment when everything clicked
  • Why being able to adapt is key for him
  • How a vision became a reality
  • Overcoming a devastating knee injury in Patagonia
  • A surf trip to Fiji as a turning point in his life
  • Thriving in the state of discomfort
  • His process behind making a decision
  • What “being content” means to him
  • Why the fear of surfing big waves doesn’t stop him


Ian Walsh 2



“It’s not how good you are at something, it’s about how good you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the best but if you commit wholly into that system and entirely in training and putting all the time into that craft, you can be as good as you really want to be.”

“When you’re uncomfortable and things are spiraling out of control, if you can reel that in and refocus and methodically think about what you are going to do next, you can learn a lot about yourself.”

“I’m processing a 50 foot wall of water coming at me extremely fast and adjusting to if it’s going to break on me or if I’m going to be too far out. That’s a place where I can vividly be in that moment and there’s not one other single thought in my mind.”


If you are interested in supporting Ian’s charity, Menhune Mayhem, you can reach him at menehunemayhem@gmail.com


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Maui native Ian Walsh has been tackling massive waves around the world since he was a teenager and his longevity and experience in the water shines through, whether he's in an elite contest, performing for the cameras, or purely riding for himself.