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"My mate said that if I paddled out, I wouldn't be coming back; that I'd be swept along the coast or out to sea. But it was relatively clean and the biggest I'd seen it surfable in 30 years, so I couldn't say no. I've always liked it a bit chunky. Normally on big days there's a strong current pulling you along the coast, but because of the long swell period it was a surprisingly easy paddle out and didn't feel out of control. I just waited for a set to pass and let the rip suck me straight out."© 2014 Ben Howard
"I sat for about 20 minutes to get a feel of what was going on. Paddled over two solid sets that were at least two board lengths thick. When I did catch one it was really tricky to negotiate the drop. There was this huge step in most of the waves, and it took all my energy to stop the nose from digging."© 2014 Ben Howard
"I was riding a 9'2 single fin shaped by Chops for me. It pulls in at the tail and works great from 8ft up to what I had on Monday. It was actually a fair bit bigger than it looks in the shots. There's a chop which distorts the scale a bit. I got a couple which made it all worth it, despite the beating that was to come."© 2014 Ben Howard
"After getting my first couple of waves, the set of the day materialised in the distance. I could see it rearing up 100 meters away and knew there was no chance of making it under them. The first one, a good 20ft +, broke a few meters before me. I ditched my board, took a good four strokes straight down and got absolutely pummelled. My leash snapped instantly and somehow my watch was ripped off from underneath my wetsuit. It would be nice if a generous watch company would replace that for me! I came up with a couple of seconds to spare before the next one, took a good breath and just let it wash me in as far as possible. Fortunately my board has been rescued from an encounter with the rocks by a mate of mine who was watching on the beach, so I just had myself to worry about."© 2014 Ben Howard
"I swam in with the rest of the set washing over me, and made it to the beach after a pretty hellish eight minute swim. By that point there was a mass of people watching from the cliff. Word has got out on Facebook that I was surfing and Aggie was like a packed amphitheatre when I finally made it out. I didn't expect all this fuss, I was just going for a surf."© 2014 Ben Howard
On the day Hercules hit, Rik “Pegleg” Bennett paddled out alone at St Agnes, Cornwall, eager to exploit the largest rideable swell in recent memory. The 44-year-old father of five had his left leg amputated below the knee when still a baby, but doesn’t let that deter him when conditions get critical. The captions above tell Rik’s story of the swell.
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