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Tim Bonython captures a giant West Oz mutant session


Mark Mathews : photo Calum Macauley/Oneill

Big Wave News

Maroubra's Mark Mathews tackles giant West Oz beast

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 30 June, 2009 : - - Last week in Western Australia Mark Mathews surely rode one of the heaviest waves ever ridden in Aussie waters. Mark (26/Maroubra) made it, thankfully..

Film maker Tim Bonython tells the story of this epic session:

After get just getting back & recuperating from epic filming trip at Choppes in Tahiti.  I glazed onto the LOLA swell map that shows a storm that has a spread as big as half the planet. Not so much a monster super storm but a storm that grew from below South Africa that continued to mutate across the Indian Ocean that went from Pakistan all the way to New Zealand. And right in the middle of its path was my new favorite new spot on the globe, the Right – right in the middle of its path!

So as per usual I was hot on the phone to all the usual suspects & all of them were all eying off the potential. Great minds think alike! So after a late night booking to Perth we were all on morning flights to WA.  Cars & skis were picked up and we were on our way. After a 10-hour drive we arrive to our destination & tuck in semi early so we could be ready at first light.

Up at 5 am, its dark & cold – there is still a bit of rain about but there are plenty of clear spots. Skis are loaded up, tanks were full & we are on our way.  The crew consisted of Mark Mathews the admiral, Ryan Hipwood the captain and Richie the ultimate warrior plus myself & great surf photographer Andrew Buckley as acting as press, set out though a mind field of bombora’s to our ultimate destination.

On our way out eyes are searching for rouge waves that seem to lift & feather out of nowhere – but all seems ok especially with rainbows & the whale that cruised past us as we got closer.  The winds are from the right direction – the sun is out & the ocean is well and truly alive. We pull up & there is Paul Patterson and Alfie Cater in the line up with body board ledge Mitch Rawlins. Then Mark Visser & Brazilian Pato Teixeira.


Richie drops into some bombs & he doesn’t take long to adjust although the wave at one time did have its on way without mercy & let him know who is boss.  Paul Patterson & Alfie get a couple. Antman got a sick one. Hippo who has never surfed the wave gets his turn. Finding the challenging wave incredibly fast & so was his quad finned board. He was working on his speed, wanting to get deeper.

In the line up there was some crazy jet ski/wake boarder – drops into a big one & almost collects Mitch as he gets towed into a monster. That was pretty heavy as he & his ski was so close to going over it reminding me of the Riamana Teahupo’o jet incident.  God knows how he would end up if that had happen.  Although it would have made some crazy vision!

Mark was as always waiting for the optimum moment after he spent the first hour & a half towing in Richie & Hippo the wind had actually turned into a semi strong West north west which made it a choppy side shore. But as soon as Mark took the rope a bomb came through that sucked any lump off the face. He makes it look so good, perfect big wave style.  If it’s the bomb of the day he will make look so.

The two negatives were the wind that blew spray into my lens & the inconsistency.  There such big gaps between ridable sets due to the fact the swell came from a long distance away.  By lunchtime photographer Russel Ord & couple of the tow teams headed back. We too were thinking of it but I am glad we didn’t cause the bombs were bigger in the arvo.

In that time Mark picked up two of the best bombs one was massive, thick as the size of it. Like I recon a 25-foot face. It had XXL all over it! Richie also got a couple. By 4 pm a big black front appeared in the west with plenty of rain attached so we decided to pack everything up and end the session. It was truly a memorable day & one for the records. Classic to think that this place is just starting to get documented.

Day two we started early but the ocean was in between two new swells. The boys decided to go to a different spot a place that can be filmed from the beach.

In transit driving to the spot I got well and truly bogged. Stuck out in the sticks for hours. The two things I had going for me (5 kilometers away from civilization) , was I got a mobile phone signal & the second thing was the local sea rescue bloke Alec had a big new tractor that could put me out. By the time I got out I missed the best part of the day. And worst thing of all was I missed some serious action. That kind of stuff kills me.

Day three it was perfect off shore but too small for the right but there were a couple of rouge bombs at the left early but it wasn’t enough for the boys so we packed up & headed back to Perth.

FOR the RIGHT reasons – WE’LL BE BACK!-  Tim Bonython/ASMF 09.

Check out Tim Bonython's video

Mark Mathews tells his story:

I had been out for 6 hours before I got this wave. It had been really slow all day and i hadn’t had any good ones yet. Then this mountain just blacked out the horizon. I got tingles (goose bumps) all over as soon as i saw it. I looked up at Hippo (Ryan Hipwood) who was on the ski and he didn’t even smile he just said “this things huge.”

It actually wasn’t my turn when this wave came. It was Mitch Rawlin’s go. He’s the craziest lid rider i’ve ever surfed with. He’s ridden then biggest waves at this break i have ever seen. His partner started towing him in. They took a more straight on line into the wave coming from directly behind to avoid the bumps you hit if you come across from the left.

I didn’t really even think, i just yelled out to Hippo go go! ill go behind him! Hippo just took off. We were coming into the wave from left to right and Rawlin’s and his driver were coming straight in behind the wave. It put me on the inside and i thought id just try and pull into the barrel behind Mitch and we’d both get barreled and make it out. Ive done this before a couple of times but on way smaller waves. Hippo was yelling out to them go go go!

Luckily for me, Mitch didn’t end up going. He said after that he wasn’t in a real good position so he just let me go (owe you one!). The wave sucked so hard off the reef that i don’t think that we both could of ridden different lines without colliding. In this shot i’ve got the full wing span going, just trying not to get sucked up the face and into that lip above my head.

It was really hard to read the wave at this point. Once a wave gets over 1o – 12ft, you can’t really see the top of the wave in you peripheral vision. You have have to really turn your head and look up to be able to see what’s  going to happen next. I was way to scared of falling to turn and look up at the top of the wave here. there was still so much water sucking of the reef.

I just kept my eyes right in front of me and hoped the corner of the barrel wasn’t about to lip me in the head. Luckily it didn’t! I think it was about here that i could here the boys screaming in the channel.  Big barrels feel like they are alive. They suck all the air inside. Thats what surfers mean when they say they felt the wave take a breath.

This is the moment that you just don’t want too end you feel like your surrounded by the whole ocean. All the hard work is done. The air has no where left to go and just gets spat out into the channel, taking you with it. This is the feeling that keeps coming back over and over and over again.

This all happened in about 10 or 15 sec!

Check the Full Sequence

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Steve Robertson/Tim Bonython/Mark Mathews

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