SURFING MAGAZINE: You guys were plotting to catch the Southern Hemi’s biggest wave all season. Was Tasmania pinpointed early on as the spot to do it?
Nah. We had a few other spots, which I can’t tell you about, but they never came together.Is Shipstern’s a hard wave to tow?
It’s a difficult wave to line up, for sure. You got a lot of wind and current and there’s really only one entry spot. It’s much easier to tow; I’ve never paddled it. To paddle it would be a complete waste of the sets. Those big ones, you can’t get over the steps, you need straps. There’s just no way around it.Have you ever seen a step like that in a wave?
I’ve never seen a step like that in my life apart from the house I had in Brazil — and I nearly fell off it. [laughs]When you’re on the big one, it looks like you have it, no problem. Suddenly, you’re completely airborne.
I was ready to lay into my bottom turn and then, all of a sudden, I was on the lip. [laughs] It was the most amazing feeling. When you see the video, you can see me start to bottom turn. So, I’m going, “Wait a minute, there’s something going on here.” And then I just held my straight line off that ramp. Suddenly, I’m snowboarding, jumping off a big cliff or something. I didn’t do any hopping or anything stupid, I just went straight off it. I hit the bottom, landed flat and cleanly, and bottom-turned into another bit. The straps saved me, for sure. You’ve towed into giant Mav’s. Obviously this doesn’t compare size-wise, but what about the difficulty factor?
The thing about this place is that you don’t see it coming at all. Even when you know it’s there, that step’ll surprise you every time.
What about the consequences?
I don’t know. I haven’t eaten it too bad at Shipstern’s, but if I wouldn’t have made that one wave, there’s no question I would’ve been on the rocks. It’s so close to the rocks, and the power of the wave…the guys who were on the cliff said that one wave hit the boulders with full impact, just no slowing down whatsoever. It would have been ugly. I don’t even want to know what would’ve happened. Can it be surfed bigger?
It was a 12-meter swell and they have 16-meter swells, so yeah, it can be surfed bigger. We actually caught the tail end of that one. It was bigger the day before, but it had too much wind on it. They were calling it Force 11, whatever that means. Is it another wave that’ll take care of itself?
At the very least, it’s going to take care of somebody. — Evan Slater