To One Of The Best Weeks Of My Life Yew!!!
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 2 June, 2011 : - - Well its true, I just love winter. It offers everything that I value as good. The weather is generally clearer, colder, and sunnier. The winds are consistent off shore. And the storms are a lot more intense. So this means lots of clean big waves with sunny conditions & exciting times. This past week was one of the great weeks of swell. A week I will never forget.
It started off last Sunday the 15th of May, with my radar set for a bombie down the south coast. It meant driving down the coast the day before so I was close to the location and plus I could catch up with two of the best new up & coming chargers from down that way. Russell Beirke & Kipp Caddy. Remember their names.
At first light I bumped into Paul Morgan & Brett Burcher and friends. They were frothing. Nothing crazy but all the same they were excited to be finally surfing their favorite bombie. Its been a slow season. The sun was out & the action kicked in. It was definitely worthy.
Monday 16th of May;
The next day I stayed in the location to continue my story with Kipp & Russell. The waves were fun but not big. By lunchtime I was on my way back to Sydney when my mobile phone rang with Marti Paradisis on the line. Have you been looking at the maps? Ah, well yes but it looked like lots of swell but the winds were too west Well the winds have now pulled up & tomorrow could be the day of days. Really, how big? Try the biggest map indications I have EVER seen, at 33 ft at 16 seconds, with a direct south west direction. So what are your plans, Timbo he asked? Well as I am drive towards home with cameras etc, I suppose I will just have to fly down tonight. Which I did.
Arriving in Hobart at 8 pm, I was picked up by the Pom, James Hick. He drove me down to Gibbos home at Cremorne where I stayed the night. Marti was there and so we did a quick interview on what he saw in the charts. He was pretty pumped & so was everyone else.
Shipstern's © Tim Bonython | Slideshow
Tuesday 17th of May;
I woke up at 3 am & couldnt get back to sleep. My brain was so filled with what to expect. So much was going thru my head. You couldnt imagine how the surfers slept.Finally the sun came rose & Chiz picked me up to head down the road to Pollys, which is the normal meeting place.
This time round it was a local affair just really all the Tassy boys will the exception of Martis mate Sandy Ryan from Mornington Peninsular. With the same swell racing up the east coast of NSW on the following day, it seemed that everyone that normally would come down decided to wait for there own gold. I actually think with that size predicated that you have to be ready to deal with the reality that its life & death out there and its easier & safer to stay in your comfort zone. I certain would. I was shit scared & Im in a boat!
So there we were all sitting in the boat after slipping off the trailer around 9am & the frigging boat battery was dead & we are floating out into the bay.
Lucky for Chiz, his quick thinking got himself into his wetsuit back to shore where he grabbed his car battery so we could jump-start the beast. Within 15 minutes we were off.
As soon as we rounded the corner into some real ocean we knew it was pumping. We were so excited. We were like little school kids pumped up on a bag full of lollies. Chiz & I were absolutely frothing. Waves appeared where they were never seen before. And as the winds were still up from the southwest the boys decided to check out the points first.
Its hard to know but there are so many points around Hobart. But you need a monster swell for them to work. They were all kind of doing their thing but nothing that amazing. Joey, Bernie & Brook all had a wave or two & then we rounded them back to the boat to charge out to our favorite Tassy slab!! By 11am we finally pulled up to a MASSIVE OCEAN the sun was out & the Sth West wind was dying and Shippies was heaving out some of the biggest waves ever.
Marti Paradisis & Sandy Ryan was the first & only ski out. Spending more time analyzing what any wave could if you fucked up than actually what glory it could give you if you mastered or tamed one of those beasts. It was friggin HUGE!! Marti knew it. He was so tentative. Each wave was macking to the point of it been unridable. They were so big that it was impossible to come from behind & ride around the bottom into the wave face. Marti attempted a couple but it was easily seen that he was fully spooked.
For an hour that went on. When finally he found one that looked like it had a wall that would stand up & maybe barrel, which it did. Then another monster one that fully stood up. Without hesitation Marti dropped down a 30-foot plus face, a magic moment with all the boys in the boat hooting. One those make all the difference. Then their were a couple of empty slabs that were evil but amazing as they unloaded spit & spray into the sunlight.
Next was Sandy Ryans turn. First wave up hes into it. Second wave hes into it, but this time it comes with a serious wipeout. We all grimaced as the word went round the boat that he had suffered a broken neck six months earlier. But within 3 minutes later Marti was towing him back into the line up. Then the word is out that the Pom & Danny Griffith had mechanical problems with their ski and were going to run down and paddle out. We never saw them. Apparently the surf was so big that they couldnt jump off the rocks.
Next up the Hollmer-Cross brothers turned up. They too were very tentative. Taking a good hour watching before Tyler decided to jump onboard & attempt his fate. Tyler hit a step & got smashed but his next one was as good as it gets. Probably the biggest barrel I have ever shot in OZ. It was huge. Plus he got another one that was very impressive. With the ocean sort of settling down his brother James got a couple of nice round ones but not as many as he would have liked.
Meanwhile Marti was back out there & Rudi Schwartz & James McKean were pushing there luck and got some great rewards but were handed some sickening beatings. McKean had one of the worst wipeouts I have ever shot. If it doesnt get Wipeout Of The Year, well I take up something else as a gig.
Ah, no I wont.
All in all it was one of those days that you simply call the day of days. It was totally historic & I was so glad to be there part of it. And the best thing was, that everyone that had the opportunity to give it a dig survived. It was one of those days where at the end of the day, I just wished I could have gone back & had a beer or ten with the boys & watched all the recorded action.
But this swell event wasnt finished with yet.
Rushing to get my flight back to Sydney, I raced onto my Jetstar flight with only 10 minutes to spare. I had two options. That, once arriving back to Sydney that I jump in my car (it was 9.45 pm) & head back down the south coast for the next day of swell. (Thats a 4hour drive) The forecast was excellent with 16 foot of swell, with a 17 second period. (But from a very south, almost south west direction) Or just head home to the Northern Beaches & fly to Fiji on Wednesday after getting a invite from Mark Mathews to head to Tavarua to catch this swell head on, scheduled for Friday. As much as I wanted too head south my brain & body was absolutely fingered. So I headed home to get good nights sleep & get up, repack for a 4-day visit to paradise. And hopefully to shoot some huge Cloudbreak waves.
Restaurants © Tim Bonython | Slideshow
Wednesday 18TH OF May.
So part 3 of my week began by meeting Mark at the Sydney airport at 1pm to catch a flight to Fiji. We arrived in Fiji at 7 pm and met up with Ryan Hipwood & ASL Photog Andrew Sheild. Dean Morrison & Richie Vass had arrived a day earlier & were already out at Tavarau. Up at 5.30 am we got a bus out into the country where we were picked up by the Tavarua boat & off to one of worlds favorite surfing location.
Meeting up with the boys which included Hawaiians Mark Healey, Reef Macintosh & Rico, we kind of got stuck as the weather had set in with rain & wind until late in the day where the final rain squall thundered in which left Restaurants looking pretty inviting at 3 to 5 feet. Not perfect but definitely worthy.
Thursday 19th of May
Everyone was up early, like first light. It seemed that the winds were back up & Dingo had already paddled out to Restaurants. I grabbed the small Canon 7D camera to get an interview/quote from Mark on his way out about what his plans were for the day. Mate, you shouldnt be shooting me but shooting Dingo, he is still in the barrel out there. Which left me thinking which way should I turn?? So Mark rushed out & I rushed to set up the land rig. Man, there were some long pits that day!!
As the day progressed around lunchtime, I was thinking what was Cloudbreak like?? The word was, it was huge but really burgery. Like 12 foot plus but windy as all fuck & hard to surf. I was watching Healey watching the surf from the front of the restaurant. You could see that was all he really wanted was to do was surf massive Cloudbreak. One minute it sound doable & the next I heard it wasnt. Then suddenly while he was looking towards the Namotu reef, I heard him say, hang on maybe its on and that was it. They were loading up their 9-foot guns & ready to do it.
Richie, Dingo, Hippo & Mark were thinking about it too but after looking for the 5th time, decided to give it a miss & surf one of the world best lefts with a dropping tide and return back to 4 to 6 foot Restaurants. I had packed my wet bag twice only to unpack it and put the camera back on the tripod. Whatever, I like the big stuff but the perfect stuff in front of us looked pretty good.
Dingo & Richie had some really long barrels. Mark & Hippo got their fair share of gold ones too. After 4 hours of it we all called it a day. Healey & Reef seemed pretty stoked with what they got out at Cloudbreak in the big stuff so I supposed we were all pretty stoked.
Friday 20th of May
Friday was really our final day. The winds were still up & Restaurants was still doing its thing but a little smaller. By 11am the winds started to blow a devil wind into the shoulder a little & so we decided after lunch to finish our day at Cloudbreak. Mark had to head to Europe for work with ONeil in Holland & so Richie, Hippo, Dingo mixed it up with Mark Healey, Rico & Reef out the famed reef break. With Healey & Richie getting some sick ones, as did Hippo at the end of the session.
With the sun going down, one hour later we were heading back to the mainland with salt still in our skins ready to wrap up a great trip. On the boat trip back we ended up with sharing with the great board shaper Rusty Preisendorfer. What a character. He & his son Clint headed straight to the airport & me and photog Andrew Sheild went to the Mercure Hotel before our 5.30 am wake up to catch a flight back to Sydney.
So thats it, six days of everything that I live for. Now for time with family..
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