Ahead of Point Break’s screening at the Wavelength Drive-In Cinema, we caught up with legendary big wave surfer and Strapped Crew tow surf pioneer Darrick Doerner at his home at Backyards on the North Shore, the day after Hurricane Douglas narrowly passed by the islands.
A big wave stand out at Waimea and the North Shore outer reefs in late 80’s early 90’s and a lifeguard and waterman of legendary repute, DD was a natural choice to perform what was then – and arguably still is today – the heaviest big wave film stunt ever; wiping out at Waimea Bay for Point Break‘s final scene, Bodhi’s fatal wipeout attempting to surf the 50 year storm at Bells Beach.
Darrick picks up the story:
“They came over here to Hawaii for a screening, and Patrick Swayze called me and said, “I need you to die for me.”
I said, “I don’t die for anybody, man.” He’s like, “No, come on, I really need you to die for me.”
So we agreed to meet in the lineup at Chun’s Reef the next morning. We had to meet out in the lineup because there were so many girls around him, after him all the time, that we couldn’t do it on the beach, we had to do it out in the water. There were girls chasing him everywhere, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
He’d done Dirty Dancing and movies like that, so I knew who he was, so I’m out at Chun’s, and sure enough I see him paddling over all kinda kooky and awkward, he wasn’t really a surfer. So he paddles up to me and we talked, and I liked him right away.
He was a really beautiful person, a truly awesome human being. We became good friends. I loved Patrick, and Keanu too, they’re really great people.
I was really into the script for Point Break. All the violence, the surfing, the whole plot just really appealed to me; I thought it was a great project with really great people working on it.
But when it came to my stunt work, there was no storyboard, no plan, no contract. The worst part was that I had no representation, which was a big mistake. That was like a fifty thousand dollar stunt, and I got nothing for doing it.
“It was 20ft, maybe 25ft Hawaiian. My hair all yellow and pink and my scalp was all blistering from the dye…”
Anyway, it was the winter of 89/90, and we were waiting for big swells for Waimea, and shooting other stuff on the North Shore. We got a swell and went out and tried some stuff, but we didn’t really get what we were looking for.
They reviewed the footage and we talked about it, what we needed to show and I said, “Why don’t I do the Iron Cross?”
The Iron Cross is a pretty straightforward high dive move, and I figured it’d work if I got to my feet and did the Iron Cross out of the lip on a set wave at Waimea. I figured I could handle that.
But the thing with Waimea back then, there was a heavy crew with a solid pecking order, lots of guys wanting to be on the sets. At Waimea you get guys all riding the same wave, and we needed a clean, empty shot.
So I talked to Laird and I said, “Man you gotta block for me, help get me the waves I need to do this stunt. I gotta die for Patrick Swayze.”
Laird was just like, “You got it.”
The day came and it was 20ft, maybe 25ft Hawaiian. My hair was all dyed going yellow and pink and my scalp was all blistering from the dye. We get out there and let a set go to clear out the lineup. The next one comes and Laird yells, “Stop!” at the whole lineup.
Everyone leaves it alone, I get a wave, rode it and kicked out to get a complete ride, as planned.
“I bodysurf into this huge tube, I can see all the traffic on the Kam Highway through the tube, just a crazy vision…”
Next one comes where I’m lined up good, same program, Laird yells at everybody again, ‘Stop!’ I’m in the spot, and I take off on the peak, launch off my board and do the Iron Cross. I get pretty worked, so far so good.
Another bomb set lines up, we let guys go and then on the one we want, Laird blocks for me again. I paddle into the wave on my board, get to my feet, then jump off down into it, out of the lip. I skip and bounce pretty hard two or three times on the face, just flying, and then I start bodysurfing right down a pretty good sized Waimea set wave.
The whitewater is next to me and I’m right in the bowl and I’m all, ‘This would be a good time to turn right…’
So I kinda lean mid face and bodysurf into this huge tube. I can see all the traffic on the Kam Highway through the tube, just a crazy vision. I can clearly remember the view looking out from inside that tube.
I’ve still got the Guinness World Record for that here in my house, the biggest wave ever bodysurfed.
I come up after the wave and we’re all, “That’s a wrap!”
Like I said, it was a super cool project to be involved in. I really think Point Break, the first one, is a great movie. They came back here to shoot the second movie recently but (director) Kathryn Bigelow never called me, I wasn’t involved. I heard it was horrible, just a big mess. I haven’t seen the second movie, it’s really a shame the way it all went down.
I watched Point Break again not so long ago and honestly, I cried when Keanu throws his badge into the water. They were such good friends, Keanu and Patrick. Patrick was a truly a pleasure to work with and be around. He was sky diving all the time out at Mokuliea, he really really loved it. Such a genuine, passionate, super stoked guy, it’s so sad with what happened with him getting sick.
So the hurricane just passed right by here last night, and look at that, there’s a double rainbow over the ocean right now (Darrick turns his phone around to show the view looking out over the lineup at Backyards on Sunset Point).
That’s him out there at the end of the double rainbow man, just smiling down on us.”