It involved a 40-nautical-mile trip in a prawn trawler, dragging three PWCs off the Western Australian coast through gale-force winds and crazy building-size swells.
It almost involved losing all the PWCs in the process.
But in the end, says photographer Tony Harrington, it was all worth it.
Harrington, along with top big wave riders Jamie Mitchell, James “Billy” Watson, Mark Visser, Marti Paradisis, James Hollmer-Cross and Richie Vaculik, went on a tip from boat captain and surfer Jeff Schmucker. “We didn’t even know if it was a wave,” reports Tony. “Jeff saw it years ago and he thought then it was a left-hander (wave that breaks left to right).”
In fact it was a right-hander … and the gamble paid off with waves in the 10-metre range … and a half-dozen entries in the super prestigious Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards.
“It was H-E-A-V-Y, one of the heaviest trips I’ve ever done and that’s saying something,” says Harrington, who chases extreme heli-skiers around Alaska when he’s not riding out storms at sea and hoping for the photo moment. “Three days of heaving swell and gale to storm force winds. It’s not something that you could just go out and score.”
The trip and its crazy outcome is being published as a feature in a future issue of Australia’s Surfing Life magazine – In the meantime, the entries can be viewed on the Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards website – www.surfinglife.com.au/bigwaveawards
The Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards is an ongoing challenge to reward the riders of the biggest waves in Australasian waters. It runs from June 1, 2008 to February 1, 2009, culminating in a gala awards night to be hosted in Sydney in February, 2009.