Autistic Surf Pro 'Becomes One With the Wave'

Documentary shows raves, and difficulties, for Clay Marzo, 20,
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2009 4:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – That a 20-year-old Hawaiian might be among the world’s best surfers isn’t a surprise—but Clay Marzo has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Just Add Water, a documentary out next month, juxtaposes Marzo’s inability to handle everyday social situations with a seemingly innate mastery of some of the world’s toughest breaks. “His brain disconnects from everyday functions,” an autism expert tells the Independent, “and becomes one with the wave.”

Marzo’s diagnosis came only within the past two years; before that, the world saw a gifted athlete unwilling to live up to his potential. Marzo eschewed competitions for surf docs, and it was during the filming of one that the director suggested Asperger’s. “In the way someone like Mozart hears music in a different way to everyone else, he does that with a wave,” Jamie Tierney says. “He’s one of the best young surfers we’ve ever seen. Period.”