On the very last day of the official waiting period, the RedBull Cape Fear Challenge swung into action as 16 of the planet's best big wave surfers arrived in Sydney to take on the local force in one of the world's most dangerous waves.
Unfortunately, on the day it wasn't quite the 10-12ft bombs that Mathews had been hoping for during the two years he spent planning the event, but there were plenty of barrels and flinch inducing wipeouts nonetheless. With a dropping swell and time running out the decision to run was pragmatic rather than mind blowing. The smaller size meant that although 20 minute paddle-in heats followed by 20 minutes of tow-ins had been planned, the competitors were restricted to 40 minute paddle only heats. And even a little under baked it was a spectacle.
Despite the world's best coming together to take on the slab, on the day, it was the knowledge of the locals that came out on top.
Contest director Mark Mathews got the better of Hawaiian big wave legend Shane Dorian, despite surfing with a back injury (sustained surfing the day before) the pair exchanged blows for 40-minutes of paddle-in surfing before Mathews carried home the ship wheel trophy and $10,000 prize purse.
He was the second of eight winners crowned from their respective head to head heats, with locals Richie Vas, Kirk Flintoff, Koby Abberton and Jesse Polock also claiming victories. Laurie Towner and Dean Morrison also triumphed to ensure an Australian clean-sweep against their US and Hawaiian counterparts.
Bra Boy, Cape Fear pioneer and renowned local Koby Abberton, was perhaps responsible for the most memorable moment of the day as he wiped-out before even making it into the water, but determined to save face, Abberton made up for getting nailed on the rocks with a convincing win over his close friend Bruce Irons.