After arriving back we only had a couple days to re-coupe before the solid West Swell hit..Heavy and hard!
It had loads of energy and was moving fast. I got had a shocker of a first session and only ended up getting four or five waves, after almost two hours, which just never happens with me, ever!
I was cold and bummed, decided to go in, had a Starbucks latte, some fruit, an energy drink, changed my board, my wetsuit, the music I was listening to, my attitude and went back out an hour later..
Chalk n cheese..First wave I got stuck in a wave within the main wave half way up the face and pitched..Pitched and beaten to hell! Hard and heavy! But after that it was all joy, got right back in the saddle and charged hard. Late, steep and deep on these big, thick walls, with heaving cathedrals of water throwing far and wide with enough power to light up a small city for endless nights. When Mavericks breaks bigh on a west swell it’s thick, lurchy, deadly and evil.
If there are days when you don’t make mistakes these would be them!
Bad mistakes on these days, don’t go unpunished..Ever!
After a really good day of waves we all had a couple beers at the Brewery and reflected on a great day of waves and hoped there would still be some 12 footers on the low tide the following day..Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone.
Sure enough,in the morning on the high it looked like the swell had almost gone. Jeff and I went out early and got four or five on the tow, under sunny skies and glassy condditions and later sure enough, dead on low, I paddled out and the waves turned on..with only a handful of us on it, smilling and enjoying the spoils of knowing the wave and getting that little window at Mavericks that so many people miss…Glassy and clean and fun @ 12ft, Mavericks at it’s best…Pure joy.
The next couple of days was just a blur of Christmas dinners and parties…Ryan Seelbach’s one especially… What a huge jol!
Little did I NOT know it wasn’t dress up..so I went as the Warewolf..armed with a Keg of beer, like what! Of course, you would to a fancy Christmas do..Needless to say the party was great, everyone got hammered and the Wolf was a huge hit and the hot tub I think got short circuited at about 3am, due to 15 naked bodies overflowing the max limit… clearly! And the rest is history and orro-vua to 2009… The rest is history…
Welcome 2010 and hurry up and have the Mavericks event, I gotta get home and do some work before I don’t have a job anymore…Oh and a very Merry Christmas, New Year and compliments of the season to all you guys and gals..Legends, all of you ..Thanks all for the support, you’ve been great..Really appreciate it.
Update 7: 22thDecember-The Todos Santos Roadtrip
Within an hour we were loading all the boards in Mike & James’s new acquired Hooley Van, and on the road heading South at high speed…well for a van that is! It was the whole RSA crew..Mike Schlebach, James Taylor, Jacque Theron, Bart & myself. It was the classic Roartrip…All of us sleeping under boards, taking shifts driving, sleeping, naviguessing..The whole night through, from San Fran to San Diego.10 hours straight!
Just before San Diego, we realised the van was having some weird engine problems we just couldn’t pin point, but it didn’t sound good. You don’t want to be heading into Mexico right now and then breakdown. Not wise as tourists are getting car jacked, taken hostage and held up down there at gun point. It’s not where you really want to have car problems.
I called an old friend who said he might be keen to join us who lives around San Diego and checked if he was still in & Tom was on it…Yeah, and if you having any car issues you can use my extra bakkie too, see you in an hour! Bonus, sorted.stoked, safe!
By 6am we had switched cars, jammed all the boards in Tom’s bakkie and jammed a couple more of the boys in Tom’s other car and we were back on the road heading for the Mexican border.
Next problem, you meant to have a Mexican tourist Visa if you not on a Euro or US passport.
How many of us had Visa’s, Hmm, none of us! Sometimes they check, sometimes not, pray to get lucky I guess…haha, we’re Saffa’s, and we always make a plan.
We got to the border and they didn’t even ask us any questions, it was pretty busy, so I guess they just wanted to keep the traffic flowing and just waved us straight through.Step two, get into Mexico, done. Step three, get to the harbour and get a boat out to Todos Santos Island before all the boats had been taken by other surfers and we were running late, it already being 7:45am and it still takes almost 2 hours to get to Ensenada.
Travelling on the road next to the boarder makes you realise how hectic it is here, bullet holes and broken down cars, hiding places for Car jackers out of the eye of the camera’s and border sentinals.. You’re in the Wild West here and you need to make sure you are self-sufficient. We make the journey down to Ensenada and harbour in good time, passing sentry stops with guards, fully masked and packing some serious weaponry. These guys are not messing around, they mean business.. Armour plated Hum V’s and gunships, these guys are legit and hard core, you don’t mess around here and play jokes are you be screwed!
Once at the harbour we organised two Panga’s-boats to take us out to the Island.Yeeha, stoked, we on the way. Not! The harbour is closed due to the swell and incoming weather. Whaaaaaat, you gotta be kidding me! We try find out when it might be opened again, check out whether we can leave from another harbour in our really bad broken Spanish and the boat drivers are saying” Maybe they open, maybe no! You are joking, we drive through the whole night, risk getting hijacked & kidnapped and they say the harbour might not open again, on a perfectly glassy, sunny morning.
We hang around for another half hour and find out that in actual fact; the harbour master was just having breakfast and reading the morning paper! Ha-ha, Mechico! You gotta laugh, or die of frustration..Tranquilo, as they would say, tranquilo..Chill out!
We load up the boards onto the boat and we are gone like grease lightning, heading out to the elusive island 20 miles off Ensenada…
It’s about45minute boat ride and once you come around through the channel onto the North side of the island you can see the lighthouseand the wave named Killers which breaks from the North end off the rock point into a really tight little bay.
The little isolated island is beautiful, with crystal clear water, blue skies and perfect glassy waves that thunder around the point and wrap into the little bay.
We arrived to three boats anchored in the channel and one ski with only ten or so people in the water, which is pretty good for Todos these days.
The waves looked great, pristine, 12ft peeling waves, detonating and uploading on the reef and swinging in and wrapping down the point, as we watched a set came in and Rusty Long grabbed the bomb of the set, drew a perfect line and showed everyone in the channel, how to tame a perfect Todos beast.
Within minutes I was in my suit and jumping overboard with gun and paddling into the line-up.
The waves were 10-12ft, clean and fun. Getting in early, taking off late, carves, barrels, lots of sharing with others, friends, it was a great day…In the afternoon most people left and it was just eight friends enjoying and sharing some solid waves in paradise. We packed up the boards on the boat and headed back to Ensenada, as the sun set over another amazing day and more great memories.
When we got in we decided it was too late and sketchy to head back over the border, so we would stay the night enjoy some of the Mexican nightlife, a couple margaritas’s and maybe head out again to Todos tomorrow, as the bouy readings were still showing there was going to be swell.
Mexican nightlife happens in a big way and between really good Tequila, empanada’s, Corona, bars, strip clubs, the place is full tilt, but it makes not having a hangover the following morning a difficult task!
We awoke the next morning to the reports still showing swell out on the island, so we took a chance, loaded up and headed out again. When we came around the corner we were greeted with perfect 12-15ft sheet glass and no one put! What…there must be something wrong? No everyone else must have thought the swell had peaked the day before and left back to the U.S.
We had truly scored, this never happens anymore. Todos to yourself, with five other mates, you gotta be kidding. We surfed with five of us all day, jaded by the epic conditions and perfect waves, refuelling with sandwiches in the water, as it was too good to get out.
James managed to snap his leash twice, but his board didn’t get too messed up, we shared waves, boards, barrels, drops, stoke, smiles and laughs all day until the sunset over an oily Mexican canvas, where on the boat ride back we reflected on an epic & truly magical session, which would be hard to ever rival again.
The South African boys made the call, took the trip, stayed and scored all of us, Mike, James, Jacque, Bart, Tom, Christian and myself were all sore, stoked and surfed out, just the way you meant to feel after an epic trip.
Once we crossed the border to head north, we still had to get it all together, fix the truck which took a couple days and then we took a slow cruise North along the coastal highway so we could stay with Tom and the boys could take in some sightseeing up the journey.
The next swell was three days out so we all had time to relax and get it all together before the next swell hit. Perfect timing!
Update 6 12/12- Frigid cold freezing Nor Cal.
As the swell started approaching the reports & forecasts just started getting blown more and more out of proportion. Everyday they were calling it bigger and by the time we it got a couple days out of Hawaii, it was going to be the biggest swell in decades! Managed to squeeze in going to watch the premiere of Drifter the movie and chat and watch Rob Machado jamming with Jon Swift, before and after the movie, amongst all the swell hype.. Very cool!
The hype was mostly focused on Hawaii and rightly so, as the Eddie looked like there was a strong possibility it would go and the event would run.
The swell arrived as predicted and Hawaii pumped. On the Monday Wiamea was a bumpy and lumpy 25ftHawaiian, closing out across the bay with only a couple of very brave takers.
The Tuesday was clean, big and magical and contest director George Downing called it: ’The Eddie is on!”
The Eddie ran in floorless 18-20ft perfection with some phenomenal surfing under epic blue skiesunder one of the world’s most phenomenal amphitheatre’s, Wiamea Bay.
Well done Greg Long for winning the event..legendary performance.
As the swell was battering Hawaii, we prepped our minds and equipment for the following days swells, as emails went back and forth on weather the Mavericks event was going to run or not.
The vote went out to the competitors including myself and the conclusion was, no contest!
But the waves were going to crank anyways..15-20ft and solid, just the wind was a problem, light to mid and variable and zero degrees Celsius in the morning .
Now that makes for very chilly feet and freezing hands. It’s not the water that’s much colder than the icy Atlantic back home, it’s the air temperature with the wind chill factor which is just unbearably cold.
Jeff and I woke up early super early and towed at the first light, even with 3mm gloves, 4.5mm O’Neill Psychofreak wetsuit & 5mm booties, I was frozen through the bone, within an hour of driving the ski and towing into a couple.
As soon as it was light we were on it and towed till the first guys paddled out on guns.
We went in dropped off the ski, warmed up by the heater and grabbed our big wave boards and paddled back out.
The waves were dark, mean, 15ft -18ft & clean. Frigid cold, with a light, icy offshore wind up the face.
We paddled out into the line-up and amongst the crew out there was Mikey Shlebach, James Taylor & Frank Soloman.
We surfed for a couple hours got a couple bombs till the wind picked up and then headed in with an ace up our sleeve.
We got out, packed a change in suits and headed south to Ghost Tree’s.
A Starbuck s coffee, turkey bacon sandwich and we were there in an hour and forty five minutes .
As we came over the rise we saw the wave unloading and exploding down the point.
A couple woops of excitement and we were there, through the golf course, suited up and paddling out.
The sets were solid and heaving over multiple steps in the wave, warping around the point,with numerous rocks sticking out into the line up.
This place at 15ft plus is heavy, ledgy and scary…but if you careful and know how it moves and breathes it’s a fantastic wave with a great walled up inside section.
There were three pretty scary sets that came in that were pretty damn big and almost caught us inside, but we just managed to push through.
I got four or five ledgy beasts with teeth and Jeff also got a couple good one’s, without getting hammered,so we decided to call it a day. We both got a small wave in and while getting changed we saw a massive 20ft set close out across the line-up spot where we had been sitting waiting for waves.
Lucky, very, very lucky..we looked at each other and laughed, well glad we went in when we did!
We headed back north, already thinking of the possibilities of heading south to Todos Santos, in Mexico, driving overnight and following the swell south to get there a couple hours before it arrives in Mexico. Jeff can’t make it but I know the Saffa boys will be keen.
Mikey Shlebach has already left a message on my phone saying he is keen to head down South to follow the swell and the next mission is about to begin!
Aloha until next week.
Update 5. 5/12
With swell on the horizon for Thanksgiving I rested up sneaked into the Ritz Five star Hotel and trained in their amazing spa and indoor heated pool for a couple days, rode the bike trails andjust ate healthy and tried healing as quick as possible, hoping I would feel strong enough for the imminent swell.
The day before the swell, I tried popping all the pills possible make my healing quicker, still feeling pretty fragile. Chinese herbal remedies, Arnica Cream, Arnica tablets, some Chinese special healing rub, Ibuprofen to remove the swelling and for pain and Calcium tablets for the bone to fuse quicker.
The funniest part is that I hate pills and never take anything normally. But whatever it takes!
Just to try getting a couple waves this swell and not falling at all, can’t afford to fall with my ribs still fusing.
Just want to get through the day in one piece, without injuring myself even worse. As I realised if I can get through this swell without falling and keeping my ribs intact. I will be 95% by the time the next swell comes and be able to go full throttle once again! So hard being out at Mavericks and being careful and not 100%. As Mavz is the one place in the world you need to be 100% on your game, committed and focused to survive and to get through a twenty foot day in one piece!
There is no other big wave spot around the world that has such vast slabs of ocean, unfold and throw such intense and huge thick slabs of water, with such frightening power as Mavericks.
When it’s 20ft(40ft faces), you better be ready, you better be fit, you better have the right equipment under your feet, you feel confident in and you better be 110% committed to paddling over the ledge, as it drops out before you, committing to the decision with zero hesitation and taking the drop, knowing that if you fall, you can take a beating like no other, hold your breath for a lot longer than you think you can and know that when you come up, amongst the swirling foam in front of your face, gasping for a breath, that you know that the nexttwo 25fters of white water that are just about to run you down…you can take both of them on the head, remain calm, when the world around you seems to be wanting to take your every last bit of energy and breath away…
I wrapped my ribs that morning really tight with heavy duty bandage for extra support and waited until 11am before I went out; just to be safe and not push it too much. The objective was really to stay in one piece!
The line-up was really busy, people everywhere and 18-20ft waves on a really consistent basis out there. I made my way deep into the lineup and watched as a set came in and watched many of the newcomers scratch for the channel & the horizon.The third wave of the set I swivelled paddled hard and I was in, over the ledge and dropping down deep with another two guys on my outside.nice clean and made it to the shoulder. Always good to try and get a wave within the first twenty minutes otherwise your mind starts playing with you and you feel out of rhythm, this way it clams your nerves and gets you into the flow.
I got four or five more and watched Andy, Simon, Mike and James get a couple good ones… and then a pretty solid set came in, the ones that double in size off take off and often lurch with little chance for success for any takers, unless you are right on the button.
The first wave of the set, one of the Brazilian’s took off on, on his backhand just before it lurched, he got so badly pitched I honestly feared for the guy’s safety and whether he was going to come up in one piece.
One bad wipe-out on waves like that, can end your season and even end your surfing career!
The second wave there were no takers, but the third one looked solid, sketchy, but do able…I was deed, only Ryan Seelbach on my inside, just a couple of feet away, but I didn’t think he would go…
I stroked deep and I was in, go, go go…I took two last strokes and pushed over the ledge and got to my feet, knowing it was going to grow as I dropped down the face.
As I dropped down the face, keeping low with my hand trailing in the water I saw a flash of yellow just off my inside rail. It was Ryan, he had dropped in close on my inside…and I was just saying in my head..Please don’t fall, please don’t fall Ryan, cause if he fell, he would knock me down to and that’s the worst place to fall, especially on such a big wave.The wave hit the ledge and almost doubled in size as it lurched and the lip threw! As soon as I neared the bottom I drew my line across as I looked forward and saw a monster section that wasn’t there off take off, starting to grow 100 yards down the line. As I went into my bottom turn I knew Ryan was close to me, but I just wanted to see if we could draw down the line as quick as possible and get some distance between us before we got swallowed, if we weren’t going to make it. I looked up again and was shocked to see how this section ahead had grown and doubled in length and size…Either I was going to have to try get in under the lip and pull in, if I had time, or try fade out forward and take a beating from hell, either way one conclusion was clear..I was in for a rough ride!
Looking at the section, it wasn’t going to throw out wide enough and I wasn’t going to have enough time to get under the lip, so I started to prone out really late…Ryan told me had already been picked off behind me, but I thought there might be a chance to ride it out a while before getting detonated..
I regained my composure, took a deep breath, got low and started repeating, I can make this, I can make this.I think that lasted for about a second and a half before the wave exploded behind me and hit me like a mac truck on a highway from behind, just blowing off my board and about 10 feet into the air…Ok, remain calm, chill, this is going to be a long, and violent one…then it was just a washing machine slayride underwater, deeper, deeper, getting beaten from all sides, but I could feel I was travelling a long way and fast, which is good, as you not going to get the next one directly on the head.
I saw a little light and swam for it, got a quick half breath before it grabbed me down again…more, more.and then light, one gasp I look around, one more breath and down for the next one on the head…
The second one is always worse than you think it’ll be as you never have much oxygen left after the previous beating, but I’ll take whatever I can get.
I got rag dolled for a while until it eventually let me up and as I gasped for a breath, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mushroom rock very close and closing in fast.I grabbed my leash, tugged it hard to get my board to me quick, so it would come round the rock with me and not go get wrapped around the other side and pull me down. It all always happens so fast, you really got to be thinking & reacting quickly, otherwise a situation like that can go horribly wrong in a split second. I got flushed in-between the rock ledge and mushroom rock and into deep water, where one of the guys on the ski’s was there to offer me a ride back out.
Glad that I survived the day and starting to get cramps from fatigue, I headed in…Happy I was in one piece and got one of the biggest sets of the day, got drilled and survived to tell the tail.
The next day it was 12ft and playful in comparison and just a couple of the RSA boys sharing some waves, laughs and good stories while out at the back with a couple of the local boys. No hassling no crowds, just pure big wave stoke and fun watching one another trade waves, hooting and laughing and that’s what it’s all really about. Sharing the love for the ocean together, just enjoying good times, good waves and a brotherhood of big wave surfers, that can’t be compared to any other sport around the world, just being in harmony with such an immense force, harnessing it, tapping into it, riding it and respecting it..A feeling that’s truly difficult to jot down into words.
The next super storm was on the cards a week out so we all had time to relax, chill a little and recover, heal and get some work done before the next one arrived, but looking at the charts it looks BIG!
Update 4. 27/11
What can I say…it’s been a slow week. Tying to stay out the water and not surf at all is about the hardest thing to do in the world, when that is the sole reason you are over in California. But some things happen for a reason and maybe one day I’ll understand why, but definitely not right now.
This week I ended up digging deep and getting a little second hand guitar.a man’s second best friend, to his dog of course, or favourite big wave gun!
At least I am finally able to get back in the pool and train again, without hearing my rib click out of place with every second stroke, which happened for the first ten days I tried training after it happened! Not a cool sound at all, especially when you want to be charging 40ft surf in a couple weeks time.
Jeff Clark and Chris checking out the surf
I headed south again and stayed at Don’s, went mountain bike trail riding in the Red Wood forest, and mountain biked the cliff paths along the Half Moon Bay coastline. I played catch up on work that need to be sorted out back home, I watched Jeff Clark tearing up 6ft perfect lefthanders at glassy Ross’s Cove, while I watched on, green with envy from the cliff top bike trail. I trained in various different pools around the Monterey area, some heated, some not, some with too many people some with none but at the end of this week, I am still frustrated, no matter how much bike and swim training I do, but I feel a whole lot better, knowing that in a couple days I might be able to surf again..
Ok, so I cannot tell a lie, I tried surfing last week, well not really but this is the story, you got to laugh!
I thought I would see how my ribs felt paddling on a board, so I took out my 9,6ft paddleboard with a short 8mm leash to paddle across the harbour and just get some paddle exercise, nice and mellow. Well that’s what was meant to happen. So I set out across the harbour on this perfect sunny, glassy day, in my short arm, full 2mm…Chillllli! Water temp. 12 degrees, but as I wasn’t going to be surfing I was just going to be paddling, no worries, perfect. So I set out knee paddling at first, well anyone who has tried it knows it isn’t really the most comfortable for long distance, so this didn’t last long and I was lying paddling my paddleboard until I got to the other side.
Once at the other side, I’m thinking, ok well now that I’m here I may as well carry the board over the sand spit and see what Mavericks looks like, there might be some little reform inside 2 ft waves breaking onto the inside..And what do you know, there were waves. Such a nice day I may as well just paddle out there, can’t do any harm. So I paddle out to just off Mushroom rock, the inside rock which sticks about 6ft out the water as waves break around it and Sail rock the rock about thirty meters across which is massive..You don’t really want to go through these rocks.
I watch a couple waves to my surprise break, way more swell than I expected to my surprise.I saw a wave cap right out atthe back off the main peak…So I thaught, I’d just take a quick paddle out, not that there would be another wave that would break out there!
Tom Curren Jaming @ the Hard Rock Cafe
I sat out there by myself, sheet glass on my paddleboard, without a paddle and just as I was thinking of taking a slow paddle in, I saw a blip on the horizon.I paddled out a bit and holy Sh#%@T, a proper wave, I wasn’t thinking straight really as I swivelled immediately and started paddling straight into the peak. Before I had time to remember I wasn’t on my normal board I was on my feet and trying to negotiate the drop which wasn’t too bad, as I was in pretty early. It was only when I got to the bottom and started leaning into the bottom turn that I remembered I was on my SUP and it didn’t quite set a rail quite as easily as my gun…I managed to pull it up but the next section down the line just got me, even though I tried to straighten out and hold on. Then I remembered my flimsy leash, my ribs and I was dragging a 9.6ft SUP behind me.
I came up quite quick and looked around to my shock to see another two white waters bearing down on me. I looked back at the beach and instantly knew I had been pushed pretty far in and I was going through the rocks. I dodged it as best as I could and managed to miss Mushroom rock by literally three feet and then get flushed into deep water.Ok, I’m so done, a little shaken and feeling a little sheepish, I paddled back to the beach and reminded myself, I was meant to be taking it easy and resting and Mavericks no matter how small it breaks, when it breaks you need to show it respect, otherwise it will quickly remind you respect is due!
Update 3- 20th November
Training in the pool I thought would be fine to get through the next couple of weeks, so much for that couldn’t breathe properly even when I went swimming! Bummed.as I am really not good at resting! The worst part is I could see a decent swell forecasted for the weekend and I knew I wouldn’t be able to miss it!
The first weekend of real swell 18ft @ 20 seconds is a really solid swell and Mavericks was windy, bumpy & solid, with forty people out, making for dangerous chaos and mayhem! I wrapped myself & bandaged myself, pumped myself with ibuprofen pain killers and I was out there, but after two waves with one and three other guys dropping in on my outsideand almost colliding with me, I was done..Sketchy and dangerous when it is so bumpy and so many people out, I was feeling fragile and I was over it. I had got my couple of waves and I was done.I had ace up my sleeve, even though I shouldn’t be in the water all.
Jeff Clark & I packed our boards and we were on the road by 11am, heading South. By 3pm, we were alone in one of the most scenic areas of California, paddling out to an empty line up an12-15ft surf. Epic, clean crystal blue water, pumping, thumping big surf.
We surfed alone till sunset and after two hours and ten waves a piece, my rib was aching and we were content.Good waves, shared between a couple friends. Don’t think you can really ask for more than that! Surfing is special times, a couple of good waves and good friends.
We stayed in the pleasant company of Don Curry, his Wife Marcy & Scout, the daughter that night.I surfed Ghost Trees with Don the first time I came out to California and have being making a regular pilgrimage here ever since. Special place Monterey is, scenic, quaint tranquil and really pretty. I will be back here again this winter for sure, even though my ribs were telling me that it might be a while, a long while. The rest of the week I tried to stay out of the water completely. Rest, apparently is not over rated for healing the human body! Bring on the healing…
After the chaos of the event…I packed up and took a slow cruise down the beautiful Oregon coast!
Rugged coastline, beautiful inlets and little harbour towns, heavy rainstorms and little weird wood stores on the side of the road, selling quaint wood carvings.
The big Redwood forests, with trees as wide as my car are so impressive…huge looming towers of wood, the oxygen friends of our world…
I pulled into a couple little towns as I watch them pass by at slow motion blur of little shops, Crab pot boats and fishing trawlers and the rugged Crabmen of the North.
I pulled into a little town called Bendon Oregon and drove out to the harbour to take a look around to see off in the distance a phantom right hander breaking off the end of the harbour entrance.
I head out to the furthest point of the groin that sticks out into the Ocean to watch a set unwind down the harbour entrance mouth..Pretty far out and then come in close to the rock shelf at the edge of the groin, but it broke consistently in the same place and reeled into the harbour entrancegood 150m long ride..But “NO ONE OUT!”
Often when waves look that good in place like this and there is no one out, there is normally a pretty good reason. I watched for a little while longer before I couldn’t resist it any longer. I headed down to the harbour, asked approached two of the fisherman that were snaking on some tasty looking sarmies and asked them about the wave out there and how often it gets ridden!
The reply was a complete shock…Surfing? No one surfs out there, never seen anyone out there in the twenty years of coming and going from this harbour and I Crab here all the time.
Ended up surfing this spot for two hours at eight feet by myself. Pretty amazing what you find when you a lone South African cruising down the coast.
Got down to Half Moon Bay-& Mavericks just in time for the opening Ceremonies for the Mavericks event which is always pretty special.
All the top big wave riders from around the globe fly in for it, as it’s such a huge honour and privilege to be a part of this extreme big wave event.
All the invitees meet on the beach with their boards and line up for pictures and to say a few words and they always have someone pretty special like Jeff Clark introducing everyone and opening the waiting period for the event. Everyone then paddles out and sits in a circle, everyone has a turn to say a couple words and pay tribute to fallen heroes. After this the party begins.
Always a great event put on by the sponsors, bands, fire dancers, free everything and giveaways like phones & alcohol..The heats get chosen for the event and everyone generally has a great time.This time the after party went on late at Tim West’s place-Halloween dress up and rock n roll.Was pretty fun and got way out of hand.Dancing midgets, free kegs of beer and late night laughter ensued.
The next day was followed by nursed hang over’s and surfing down the beach.
The following day Jeff Clark, his wife, Cassandra & I went Stand up paddle boarding down at the jetty! I ended up misjudging a wave that broke in front of me, I tried to jump over the wave but the wave caught my board and slammed it into my ribs with the force of the wave behind it.
I lay in the water next to the board for a minute or two letting waves just roll over me, wondering how bad the damage could be I had just incurred to my ribs/lung/spleen and saw the last 4 months of training go out the window! Shit…Not good.
After two days of pretending it really wasn’ttoo bad, I forced myself to the doctor and found out broken ribs and a badly bruised spleen would need a long while to heal…like 8 weeks or so..
Thinking that I was leaving on the 30th of October for the opening ceremony of the Mavericks event, one email on Monday 16th at 1pm changed it all in a split second.
It’s been a crazy past 5 days since I got that mail about the event going Green for a Thursday start!
Since that mail it’s been changing of tickets, then cancelling tickets and paying for new last minute ones eight hours before departure, with the help of True Blue…Trying to wrap up business, putting together and running a final fundraiser charter on a 60ft Catermaran sponsored by Cruise IQ, that same evening. After the charter I headed to the office till 3am, then appointments in the morning, pack some stuff on the way to the airport, pack the rest of it at the airport…
1x big wave board in a board sock, a paddle and I was booked, packed and gone…2xplane journeys later, 30 hours between home and San Francisco, 1x three hour flight delay in London due to an engine problem left me missing my flight from San Fran to Oregon.
1 x interrogation at San Fran Airport by customs for half an hour, with them ending up searching for me as a big wave charger on the Internet, just to prove I was who I said I was..
1x last flight of the evening to Oregon at 8:20pm, arriving in Portland Oregon, just before 10pm.
1x half hour wait for luggage hoping that I would have a board to surf for the event…
1x rent a car just before11pm, getting lost and droving for almost 4 hours to get to Lincoln City just before 3am.
1x 3 hours sleep, get up, fins in board, wax up and leash on to the background music of Goldfish & Prime Circle.
1x Starbucks soy latte and 40 hours later and 3 hours sleep and I am ready, ready for action.
Ready to charge 30ft surf and to represent RSA.
I get to the beach and its car’s, ski’s people, spectators, and surfer’s media.
People launching ski’s all over the place, to get through the heavy, heaving 8-10ft shore break that leads you a mile out to where the be heathen stirs…Nelscott Reef, Lincoln City Oregon.
I get a ride out to watch the last tow heat before the paddle event begins over a mile out. The conditions smoothen out and it’s glassy like silk, a big wave wonderland, and big clean walls.
As I jumped off the back of the sled and paddled into the line-up I knew it was going to be a good heat, everything just felt right. I paddled deeper into the line-up, deeper than anyone else and the waves came to me, I was late and deep, but the waves came and there was no going back.
I think I got five waves in my heat, all pretty solid, late and deep. I only fell on one wave where I thought the wave was going to barrel, so I pulled up high to pull in and at the last second I realised the wave wasn’t going to throw out as much as I thought, I tried to pull straight, but was just too late and I got detonated by the lip.
One more late big one and the heat had ended…I was told by many that I had won it, but so is life…The next event I will make sure, just bring on the waves, bring them on early..Mavericks here we come
Great waves, great surfing and a great day of top level big wave surfing was had by all and so the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere begins.
The result…Third place, missing 1st and second, by less than a 6th of a point.
1st Anthony Tashnik-California
2nd Kealii Mamala-Hawaii
3rd Chris Bertish- South Africa
4th Travis Payne-Oregon
5th Greg Long-California
6th Gary Linden-California
7th Mark Visser-Australia
8th Shane Desmond-California
9th Mike Parsons-California
“I was just stoked to have made it over in time for my heat, after travelling for over 36 hours. I just wanted to catch a couple waves to make the long journey worthwhile and I ended up third that was just an added bonus. As long as I make South Africa proud, I’m happy.”
After the paddle heat had ended I ended up borrowing Naish paddle board missing one fin to become the first person to ever SUP Nelscott Reef, which was a little scary especially at that size. I only ended up getting one wave, as it grew dark but got caught inside by the biggest wave I have ever yet to face, while on a SUP. Every now and again you deserve a good beating, its character building.I’m glad that one is now done and ticked off the list.
Now I can sleep and chill a little as I take a slow cruise down the Oregon coastline.