LAST week in Western Australian, the same lows that spun swells after swells up towards Indo first made land in Western OZ. Here 26-year-old Mark Mathews takes on what must be surely one of the heaviest waves ever ridden in Aussie waters and he made it. Click through for the full sequence. You can check out more of Mark’s antics HERE.
I had been out for six hours before I got this wave said Mark Mathews. It had been really slow all day and I hadn’t had any good ones yet. Then this mountain came roaring out from the horizon I got tingles (goose bumps) all over as soon as I saw it. I looked up at Hippo (Ryan Hipwood) who was on the jet ski and he didn’t even smile he just said, “this thing’s huge.”
It actually wasn’t my turn when this wave came. It was Mitch Rawlin’s go. He’s the craziest lid rider I’ve ever surfed with. He’s ridden the biggest waves at this break I have ever seen. His partner started towing him in. They took a straighter line into the wave - coming directly from behind to avoid the bumps you can bump should you come across from the left.
I didn’t really even think, I just yelled out to Hippo go go! I’ll go behind him! Hippo just took off. We were coming into the wave from left to right and Rawlins and his driver were coming straight in behind the wave. It put me on the inside and I thought I would just try and pull into the barrel behind Mitch and we’d both get barrelled and make it out. I’ve done this before a couple of times but on way smaller waves. Hippo was yelling out to them go go go!
Luckily for me, Mitch didn’t end up going. Afterwards he said that he wasn’t in a good position so he just let me go (owe you one!). The wave sucked so hard off the reef that I don’t think that we both could have ridden different lines without colliding. In this shot I’ve got the full wing span going, just trying not to get sucked up the face and into that lip above my head.
It was really hard to read the wave at this point. Once a wave gets over 10 - 12ft, you can’t really see the top of the wave in your peripheral vision. You have to really turn your head and look up to be able to see what’s going to happen next. I was way too scared of falling to turn and look up at the top of the wave here. There was still so much water sucking off the reef. I just kept my eyes right in front of me and hoped the corner of the barrel wasn’t about to lip me in the head.
Luckily it didn’t and I think it was about here that I could here the boys screaming in the channel.
Big barrels feel like they are alive. They suck all the air inside. That’s what surfers mean when they say they feel the wave take a breath.
This is the moment that you just don’t want to end - you feel like you’re surrounded by the whole ocean. All the hard work is done. The air has no where left to go and just gets spat out into the channel taking you with it. This is the feeling that keeps coming back over and over and over again. The whole thing only took 10 to 15 seconds.Mark Mathews
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