Surfer Sets Himself On Fire Before Riding Colossal Wave

Indrani Sengupta
Dangerous? Yes. Delightful? Absolutely. Jamie O'Brien has done what no man or woman has before: ridden the Teahupo’o wave—one of the biggest in the world—while on fire.

Professional free surfer Jamie O’Brien has been there, done that when it comes to riding waves the regular way. He’s tamed almost every big wave there is, and he won the most prestigious event in surfing’s World Tour, the Pipeline Masters. While the rest of us marvel at his and other competitive surfers’ tricks, O’Brien is likely yawning, and cooking up new ways to push the envelope.


Stoked to find some Shade at Sandy's !on my new signature @catchsurf board! Photo @beefs_official #GoPro @bodyglove53

A photo posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on

O’Brien reached out to his Instagram fans for ideas for a new surfing challenge—and boy did they deliver.

“It would be cool if you lit yourself on fire.”

Most of us, when we hear something along those lines, take it facetiously. But not O’Brien.

“I thought, might as well.”

So he took the crew filming his original series, Who Is JOB 5.0, and headed to Teahupo’o, Tahiti. 


Stoked this is up! A dream come true with @redbull for #Whoisjob 5.0 link to edit in my bio #fire

A video posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on

The wave he rode is already one of the largest in the world—“impressive” doesn’t cut it. But most people riding it don’t have flames engulfing their body.


You guys should be fired up about what's coming tomorrow #Whoisjob @redbull photo @timmckenna

A photo posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on

The resultant shots—of blazing fire against surging water—are stunning. O’Brien, it seems, was no less stunned by the experience:

“When you’re on fire in the barrel, the whole wave lights up fluorescent orange. It’s a really crazy feeling that you can’t even explain. I’ve been surfing big waves my entire life, but this time I had this flame just wrapping around my head, which was pretty insane. Something totally different than anything I’ve ever done before.”

Note: O’Brien had a lot of help pulling the feat off. Twelve months of training with a Hollywood stunt coordinator, three fire tests, protective clothing, a custom wetsuit, and almost twenty-five fire and water safety personnel on standby. 

Which is to say: kids, don’t try this at home. 

Read more: Pro Surfer Mick Fanning Narrowly Escapes Shark Attack At J-Bay Open

Banner image credit: Ben Thouard