Last year, Laura Enever dropped out of the Championship Tour bubble. But before that, long in the making had been Enever's transition from competition surfing to dabbling in chunkier, heavier, more terrifyingly breath-taking conditions. And here's one of those sessions.
A couple of weeks ago, the bright-eyed Aussie made her first trip to Tasmania's hell-slab, Shipstern's Bluff, with a crew including Mikey Brennan, Russell Bierke and Marti Paradisis.
And you know Laura's not afraid to huck over a thick, thrashing lip. Can you remember a few years back, her P-Pass session? Or, Laura's efforts charging Jaws as part of the women's heat for the Big Wave Tour? Commendable. When the call came in that Shippies was about to rumble, it was time for Enever to enter a whole different kind of arena.
“I had a tow board shaped for me when I was about 15, so I always wanted to try tow surfing but it just never happened,” Laura relays to Surfline. “This year is the first time in seven years I'm not competing on the Championship Tour and instead I'm working on a film project UNDONE, which is about my transition out of comp surfing into freesurfing and chasing bigger waves.
“The plan was to actually surf some other big waves spots around Australia first and then work my way up to Shipstern's but this swell hit and I decided to check it out with a rad crew (Russell Bierke, Brett Burcher and my filmer Steve Wall) who were headed down for the swell too.
“I kind of had no expectations and even thought I might end up spectating but after the two hour walk in, the rock off, and sitting in the lineup most of the day watching the boys get crazy waves, I couldn't say no when I got offered the tow rope.”
As you know know, Shipstern's Bluff is no joke. In fact, the lensman who is synonymous with the place, Stu Gibson once said: “It's this raw, powerful wave that's like nothing else. It's definitely a nerve racking place to swim.”
With that in mind, when asked about the feeling in the lineup, Laura quips: “The vibe in the lineup was absolutely epic. All the local guys were such legends and everyone in the channel were having the best time. I can't thank Marti Paradisis enough for throwing me the rope and getting me some gems in the afternoon. My first wave ended up with a big old cartwheel down the face which was pretty entertaining for everyone.”
And it's as impressive as it sounds, with Marti adding: “I towed Laura into a few waves in the arvo. And when I saw a shot of her upside down in the barrel of a 12 footer, I was gobsmacked. One of the gnarliest situations you could be in and she came up frothing. I think she may be nuts.”
“When I came up after getting smoked all I could hear was the whole channel screaming, I won't be forgetting it,” laughs Laura.
“I just really didn't know what to expect when I let go of the rope. I watched for so long and just ended up coming to the conclusion that I would more than likely be coming across a few steps and had to be ready,” Enever added.
“For a while I was overthinking what line I should take on the wave but in the end I didn't have time to think when I let go of the rope. The best advice I got was from one of the local boys who told me to "just be like a cat” [laughs].
“The day was an epic whirlwind. I'm still so sore from the two hour walk in and my cartwheel down the face but I'm just excited to try get a bit more experienced and my own equipment dialed to go back and try a few more.”
Of Laura's efforts Mikey Brennan relays: “I’ve seen the girls surf shippies before but not like Laura, I felt the butterflys she was experiencing and she was just going for it, it made the day.”