Fall, when a young surfer’s fancy turns to thoughts of late southern hemisphere swells at Surfrider Beach Malibu, or early winter swells along the North Shore of Oahu.

For the fall of 2017, Makua Rothman was thinking of both, as he spent the summer of 2017 recording music in Malibu – with sidetrips down to Puerto Escondido, where he competed in the Puerto Escondido Challenge 2017.

Makua likes Puerto, but he had unfinished business with the place, because in 2016, he made the final of the Puerto Escondido Challenge but suffered a pretty serious injury. Even by North Shore standards, Puerto is not to be trifled with. It has mucho fuerte and will hold you down and beat you as if you owed it money or voted for Trump (or Hillary) or whatever.

Makua came out of this Puerto Escondido challenged unscathed, and in early August he answered some questions about his summer, the changes on the North Shore, how North Shore is similar to Malibu in many ways, his family, his music, the future.

How is your brother Koa? He got clocked pretty good by a guy paddling out. Is he recovered?

My brother is fine. He broke his teeth a little bit. Minor.

You made it to the semis at the Puerto contest. How many times had you surfed Puerto before?

I’ve surfed it a couple of times. I surfed it last year and separated my ribs from my sternum on my first wave of the finals… so that was pretty fun.

Do you like Puerto?

Beautiful place. Awesome people. Awesome waves. There is a lot of Mexican Aloha down there.


Any good stories from that event?

Yeah, breaking my ribs in the finals. Real funny story.


Puerto almost drowned Richard Schmidt in his youthful prime. It can be heavy. What were your worst wipeouts?

I’ve had three pretty bad wipeouts

  • Backdoor: When I was 19 I cracked my knee cap.
  • I tore my whole face off at Teahupoo. Yeah, I thought I was a parrot fish so I went and tried to have a reef sandwich. Probably not the best Idea I’ve ever had. I tore my whole chin off. My lip was under my jaw, and I had to hold it together so it wouldn’t fall off.
  • Puerto: I thought I punctured my lung or hit my heart – I was scared.

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