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The relative calm before the storm saw Anchor Point lining up near perfectly on Monday evening. Even with the tide high, the sets kept rolling in and peeling off down the line towards the heart of this small fishing village, made famous for this exact behaviour.© 2014 Chris Mather
By evening just a handful of riders still remained in the water, enduring the ever growing conditions until the final shards of light vanished. For this surfer, the persistence paid off.© 2014 Chris Mather
The unknown surfer, zipping across the waves like a masked creature of the darkness with the night vision of an owl.© 2014 Chris Mather
Monday, 3pm. The brunt of the swell hit on Monday evening, providing a day of gargantuan righthand walls throughout Tuesday.
The last of the light, and his last wave. He was certainly savouring every moment of it before the mayhem to come.© 2014 Chris Mather
With many of the locals awakening to find destruction on their doorsteps and fishing boats vanished, others ventured a little closer to see what these crazy foreigners kept calling "Hercules".© 2014 Chris Mather
As breakfasts were finished, only a few bothered to grab their boards, most opting for their cameras or smart phones. By 10am the groups had started to gather on the famous site, home of Moroccan surfing, Anchor point.© 2014 Chris Mather
These numbers make for fairly impressive reading, more exciting still when applied to the size assimilating pointbreaks of North Africa.
Having waited for over an hour, just watching this spectacle unfold in front of us, everyone was eager to see a suit donned and a brave soul step up. With the tide still dropping and the sets growing, two such figures appeared. Locals, no (they were waiting for it to get really big), but two young Australians.© 2014 Chris Mather
As the two Auzzies walked from the comfort of the crowds out onto the point, you got the feeling that this was a rather lonely trip, with the enormity of what was in front of them starting to dawn. To turn back now would have been no loss of face. Most onlookers were enthused or just confused to actually see these two lads clutching boards.© 2014 Chris Mather
This was your idea, right? Final preparations made, the two intrepid surfers having travelled thousands of miles to explore North Africa, stand and take it all in. The sets were growing with pulse. It really was now or never.© 2014 Chris Mather
This shit just got real. When you're waiting to paddle out, trying to pick the best time to pop off the rocks and slip out between sets, a lot goes through your mind. When the surf gets to the point where your comfort zone is lost beyond the horizon, survival is probably a strong part of your thought. When the biggest set of the morning roles in, almost doubling all before it, you might just start to question, what the hell am I doing?© 2014 Chris Mather
Shortly after the two Australians paddled out and were swiftly swept away in the current, another challenger stepped up. Nagai Puntiverio, a man who was to show super human like fitness, grit and a steel determination to earn himself the wave of the day. Standing here with the sight of a 20+ft wave in the distance, thunderous sounds exploding all around him and hundreds of eyes fixated on him, he seemed rather calm.© 2014 Chris Mather
Nagai Puntiverio safely disembarked from the rocks and joined those who went before him in to the conveyor belt rip. The two Australians, were still paddling trying to get in to position, this guy joined them and put on a pure masterclass of paddle power. On and on he went, arms turning over and over. When others stopped for a second to catch their breath and cool the fires burning in their shoulders, he persisted, his eye on the point. This to all those watching seemed a brave yet doomed effort, but on he went.© 2014 Chris Mather
After around 45 minutes, Jarad, one of the young Australians, who was first in and swiftly swept away, had managed to claw his way back against the mother of all rips. Many thought he was in Agadir by now but no, here he was, sat wide of the point but none the less he was definitely in the game. Now all he had to do was pick his wave, paddle and make it. Easily typed and rolls off the tongue but, try this after a gruelling battle with mother nature. Yet he did. First in the water, first wave ridden. Huge respect goes out to him and his fellow surfers. Oh and yes he made it, but mother nature bit him in the arse swiftly after.© 2014 Chris Mather
By now a handful of surfers had taken the plunge, some of whom were probably starting to regret it as they paddled against a horrific rip that offered no respite. Nagai Puntiverio decided that it was time to do what he had come to do. Sitting as deep as anyone had been this morning, he lined himself up with a set that came wide of the point, difficult to spot as we all stared into the sun, we squinted, he manoeuvred, we started to cheer, he started to paddle, upwards he went, we willed him on, then back down he came, firmly fixed to his board.© 2014 Chris Mather
Next to go was my friend from Morocco, Yassine Ramdani. Originally from Rabat, but a frequent occupier of the waves in Taghazout. I'd met him first thing with his family at the house on Anchor point where he was staying, after coffee and breakfast I'd taken up position on the balcony, he had waxed his gun and trotted off for a surf. After what he later described as a horrendous and gruelling paddle, with the utmost admiration to anyone who managed to even catch a wave, he gave us his offering. Sat a little closer inside he drove into the quickening section, took off and surfed as if it was head high.© 2014 Chris Mather
As he got to the bottom of the wave, you realise how deceptive the wedge shape at the take off can be, with the true size hidden by perspective. With most being content to make the drop and run from the beast, Ramdani decided he wanted more, driving off the bottom and taking on Hercules as if it was a competition. He effortlessly made the most of what would be his one wave before fatigue finished him.© 2014 Chris Mather
People argue what is needed to surf big surf; Kahuna's, balls, experience and self belief are all words that will have been banded around in conversation. What amazes me though is how relaxed the guys and girls are. If I were to be chased by a pack of wolves, an avalanche or a few thousand cubic tons of water, my brain would tell me to run, that fighting is no option and off I would go. These individuals though have the ability to slow everything down, to assess what lays ahead and most definitely behind, stay calm and then turn themselves back into the pit of ferocity and go again. Here Yassine shows that trait with a turn back into the pocket.© 2014 Chris Mather
So this was it, low tide had come and was on the push, the sets were maxing out. With what can only be described as a super human effort, Nagai Puntiverio, carried on his paddle back towards the point. For nearly an hour he arduously paddled, never ceasing, never letting up. Others fell behind, returned to the shore. New challengers leapt from the rocks to test their bodies against the storm, still he continued. Waves were surfed and many an eye was no longer watching this solitary figure, choosing to cheer on and gasp at the other surfers shooting down the faces of these huge waves. Then, all of a sudden he was there. Right out, just off the point. He'd made it, somehow, against all odds he'd managed to paddle right to the spot. Now was the hard part. He was sat in line with the biggest waves coming through this day. Nobody had managed to get close to where he currently was, nobody had got close to surfing the size of waves that he was contemplating. Composed, he started to paddle, the crowds gasped, my finger depressed the shutter and time momentarily stopped. His feet hit the board. The shutter clicked. The crowds cheered. Down he dropped.© 2014 Chris Mather
This was it, this is what we had all gathered for, entertainment at its best. Man vs Nature, and we were winning. Down he dropped, further and further. All were on their feet cheering willing him on, like a crowd spurring on a gladiator in the coliseum. Anchor point was our coliseum, Nagai Puntiverio, our gladiator.© 2014 Chris Mather
North Africa was the last great hope for Hercules. Heavy sessions had transpired in Northern Europe, but few places can welcome a solid swell like the expansive righthand points of Morocco. Chris Mather’s images and captions tell the story of the swell at Anchor Point.
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