Rebelsessions through the lens: #Gunrunners – Odd Persson

Odd Persson
(There’s laughter in the background) I hear a voice calling out. “”The Swedish Hot Mom Syndrome!’ That’s a good one, haaaaaa!!”Neil Webster has his camera set up in the shade of an olive tree. In front of him sits the one time Swedish National Surfing Champion. The voice in the background is from Tim Coles. (He’s next in line to be interviewed.) Webster had just told the lanky Swede, that he didn’t even know Sweden had surfers, never mind a national champion. The champ laughed for a while before he answered. “In Sweden we got a lot of like.....well Sweden is famous for their very pretty girls right? So we have a lot of mothers out in the world that are Swedes who have sons that surf. They get a Swedish passport and can compete as a Swedish surfer. Our National team is pretty good.....but there’s no actual Swedish surfers in it. The guys are from all over. So I wouldn’t say that Swedes are good surfers, but you could say that Sweden has good surfers because of the mothers.” It was at that point that Tim exploded with laughter. “So, what’s your name and where are you from?” Asks Webster. (You just know he’s trying not to imagine what the Swedes mom looks like right now.) “Well, my name is Odd Grim Persson, I’m originally from Sweden. I’ve been living in Jbay with my family on and off for 10 years. I’m studying architecture at UCT. It’s my plan B in case I can’t make a career as a surfer. (Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking right now. You want to know if that’s his REAL name. It is. His birth certificate reads, Odd Grim Persson, born 7 February 1996.) “I’m also studying at UCT so that I can get the 3 year visa so that I can charge big waves in SA!” He continues. “So, where did you learn to surf big waves?” Asks the interviewer. “I went to California over a winter and surfed Mavericks. I moved to Cape Town to continue on that trail. Webster pulls his “you-just-impressed-me “face and checks focus on his camera. “What is it that you like about big waves?” Asks Neil. The Swede laughs “Yoh, that’s a hard question.” He says. “I like everything! Since I was small, even though I was shit scared, I was able to feel calm in big waves. I think it’s because of how close it gets me to nature. I feel it can over power me. It’s the connection to nature, yes, yes, I think that’s what it is, it’s the connection to nature.” Webster looks at the questions on the piece of paper in his hand and asks. “What’s been your experience of the big wave brotherhood? “Odd looks a little perplexed. “Well!” He says. “Where I come from, there aren’t a lot of surfers. I would surf on my own in a cold and harsh environment. I’ m used to surfing on my own, so it’s amazing to see the community that’s here. It’s extremely cool to be a part of something like this. It’s rare. There’s not big wave surfers where I come from. So just to be able to talk to another BW surfer is amazing. It makes me feel like I belong somewhere.” His interviewer is nodding and smiling now. “Talk to me about some beatings.” He says. “Yoh!” Laughs Odd. “A few months ago, there was a really big swell. Twiggy was out alone at Dungeons, but no one else was surfing. Sunset was 20ft. I had a few hours before school, so I went out on my own. I got a huge one on the head followed by 10 more waves after that. It was the beating of my life!! I had one wave after that and headed back to the beach. The other guys were just watching from the sand dunes.” Webster throws his head back firing off his signature cackle. When he stops laughing he asks. “Ok, so what’s been the pinnacle of your surfing life then?” The blonde student suddenly ploughs headlong into a language glitch. “Ok, pinnacle, what’s that?” Listening from inside the house Tim Cole calls out. “It’s the same as a peak bru!” (Tim has been transfixed by Odd’s interview ever since the ‘hot-mom chirp’) “Oh peak, ok, peak.” Says the Swede. “I wouldn’t say I’ve had a peak. It’s been more about the whole journey so far. Not one session or wave. It’s been about the failures that get me to that point. The failures and wipe outs and beatings are just as important.....although.....catching my first wave at Dungeons. Yoh!! That was really cool, ja, that was kind of a peak actually. Webster has saved one more question and is already smiling as he asks. “Would you like to represent Sweden on the Big Wave World Tour?” Odd Persson’s response is immediate. “Yoh!! Definitely, definitely!!”Then he hesitates and adds. “All I really want to do is ride big waves though and doing the tour would just be a way of doing that.” He looks thoughtful for a moment and then slowly says. “But, in the end, I guess it’s up to Mother Nature.”

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