We really were hoping for a nice blue day and gentle offshores. Throughout the dark morning drive down we were searching the cloudy skies overhead for a break. Surely the sun will burn through.
Wishful thinking. The clouds looked like they were in for the day. At the boat ramp we could tell there was a little bit of swell running and we started to get our froth on. Rounding the first point towards Shippies we were kinda surprised by the wind, which was puffing offshore. Our forecast was calling for light onshore south winds. The crew on the boat began to froth out a bit more and after about half a hour of bashing the chop and backwash we arrived in the channel at Shippies.
After about 10 minutes of nothing really happening a nice set roared through the lineup. Instantly the ski teams of Laurie Towner / Mikey Brennan and Shaun Wallbank / James McKean started getting their shit organised and everything started happening real quick.
Not much was really happening, the guys on the ski had their long faces on saying there was no sets. We were sorta bummed that our little dinghy was taking on water as well, but the captain convinced us the dinghy wouldn’t sink (hopefully more than wishful thinking). After about 10 minutes of nothing really happening a nice set roared through the lineup. Instantly the ski teams of Laurie Towner / Mikey Brennan and Shaun Wallbank / James McKean started getting their shit organised and everything started happening real quick. A few more sets came in with Andrew Mooney picking off a few crackers, while Mikey got whipped into a couple smaller ones. Something was brewing, we didn’t know what or when, but sometimes you just know. Bobbing in the trough of a smaller swell line we could see a thick black line out the back and the glimpse of the paddle guys heading out to the horizon.
Sure enough, the thick line squared right on the reef and Mikey was attached, racing off the first ledge like a determined lemming. It was one of those waves were you go: “Oh shit! He’s fucked here”. After landing the huge drop Mikey almost lost it at the bottom of the wave, somehow fighting both the board and the draw off the reef and managing to stand tall. And there he was, bold upright in a pretty mental wave. Everyone was going off and Mike literally lost his shit. It was so cool to see such enthusiasm in the water again. The very next wave Mooney pulls into a nice big open cavern wrapping on the end bowl, Mikey was frothing so much on his wave, then Mooney’s sent everyone else nuts.
Shaun Wallbank and McKean’s session ended after Shaun got his quota of about five waves, including a pretty epic deep number. James got behind the rope and on his first wave he failed to see the lip arriving and copped it square across the face. It was a brutal wipeout and he definitely lived up to his nickname “Wipey” and resulted in a broken foot and bleeding from the mouth. The swell pulse seemed to have been and gone after a couple hours, but both Laurie and Mooney got a few more. Mooney was dominating on the paddle with Mike whipping Laurie into a few nice long pits. We were pretty lucky the wind stay offshore as long as it did, and Sydneysider Icnacio Salazaar, who was with us on the dinghy finally got a chance behind the rope. After flying all the way down and getting up at 5:30am and sitting in the boat waiting his turn, he finally got his only wave for the whole day, and boy was he stoked after finally getting just one wave. Pretty amazing what one can do for you.
Photos and words: Andrew Chisholm