At the age of three, Mark Healey was surfing 8ft-high waves on the north shore of Oahu in his native Hawaii. A decade later, a photograph of him at 14, taming a 40-footer at notorious Waimea Bay, thrust the teenager into the limelight, earning him his first surf sponsorship. Last May, the now world-famous waterman defied logistics and sense to surf what was described as the biggest paddle-in wave ever seen at Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
Impressive as they are, Healey’s above-the-surface achievements pale in comparison to his underwater exploits: he has just returned from a six-person scientific expedition to Mikimoto Island, off Japan’s Izu Peninsula, to tag an endangered population of scalloped hammerhead sharks.
Now, the big-wave surfer, spear-fisherman, photographer, film-maker, conservationist and occasional Hollywood stuntman has decided to use the expertise gleaned from his three decades in the sea to launch Healey Water Ops (HWO) – an intriguing enterprise that promises once-in-a-lifetime ocean-going experiences for clients around the world. ‘Over the course of my career, I came to realise there was a real void when it came to a first-in-class, professionally run guiding service designed specifically to deliver a private, personalised experience with the ocean,’ explains Healey.
To make good on its vow of providing clients with the opportunity to experience for themselves the deep ocean’s almost unimaginable beauty and spectacular array of creatures – which Healey rightly describes as ‘otherwise unattainable’ – HWO has teamed up with Ocean Independence, the global leader in luxury yachting.
‘Since the company’s inception, I’ve always believed what we do can be best executed via a private yacht because, that way, you can take advantage of those premier, often hard-to-reach locations. I’m beyond excited to be working with Ocean Independence,’ says Healey.‘Its team’s attention to detail and the superior customisation of its yachts aligns perfectly with the values we espouse at HWO, which includes offering unparalleled service and unlimited access to all water disciplines.’ Healey will work alongside a hand-picked team of expert watermen and women, who will draw on their passion for the ocean to teach clients how to swim with sharks, surf waves beyond their comfort zone, spear giant tuna and partake of any number of other intrepid saltwater adventures. The HWO team, which he describes as comprising ‘the most talented ocean professionals on the planet’, includes fellow surfing icon Dave Kalama, fêted spear-fisherwoman Kimi Werner, accomplished free-diver Shelby Eisenberg and international conservation biologist Dr Austin Gallagher. He is confident his elite ‘special forces’ team can deliver an incomparable adventure that caters to each client’s skills and desires, with cast-iron attention to safety at every stage. ‘Our world-class experts will facilitate experiences our clients remember forever. From bold, first-of-their-kind expeditions to relaxing, family-orientated educational trips, Ocean Independence and HWO will offer unprecedented access in ocean exploration.’
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