Brad Gerlach and Mike Parsons

Big-Wave Tow-In Surfers

To trust a guy enough to be your lifeline in 60-foot-plus waves, he has to be your longtime soul brother. Actually, no. "When we were on the pro tour, I was Richie Cunningham and Brad was the rebel," says Parsons. "We didn't like each other." It wasn't until 1999, at Mexico's Todos Santos, that the two first towed each other into deadly swells. "Every time we went out," says Gerlach, "it just felt natural." BIG MOMENT: In 2001, Parsons won the XXL big-wave competition after Gerlach towed him into a 66-foot beast at Cortes Banks, 100 miles off San Diego. This year, Gerlach captured the 2006 XXL for a 68-footer Parsons slung him into at Todos Santos last December. ROLE PLAY: "Mike is the captain," says L.A.-based Gerlach, 40. "He's the one with the jet ski who searches the Internet for swells. I just show up." "Brad is a better surfer," offers 41-year-old Parsons, who lives in San Clemente. "And he brings the food." WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU: "Brad towed me into a 50-footer at Jaws in 2005, then someone got in his way, so he couldn't pick me up. I got blasted into the rocks. I was furious." Says Gerlach, "I told that story at his wedding."

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