Tuesday 15th January 2008 (Hobart, Tasmania) SHIPSTERN BLUFF in Tasmania roared to life late yesterday afternoon spitting out monster 4m (12-15ft) rides for a handful of Australian big wave specialists.
Billabong Adventure Division surfers Dylan Longbottom (33, Gold Coast), Laurie Towner (20, Angourie), Michael Brennan (19, Tasmania) and Wade Goodall (21, Caloundra) used personal water craft (PWC/Jet-Ski's) to tackle the radical rides which were too big to paddle surf.
The Billabong Adventure Division project seeks to find and ride huge waves across the globe. With a dedicated group of big wave surfers on call and access to PWC's at a number of renowned big wave locations, the Adventure Division crew are on standby to chase swells at the drop of a hat.
"The day started off pretty slow but every now and then a really big one would come through," said Longbottom. "It was teasing us at first but in the afternoon there was a couple of big bombs and Shipstern's was doing its usual heaving thing which was good."
"Everyone is just looking for the biggest wave and the biggest thrill they can find out there."
The group of adrenalin junkies are seeking rides big enough to earn nomination for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards with the winners to be announced in California this coming April.
With consecutive monster swells battering the Californian coast over the past two months, nominee's for the prestigious awards have been flowing in thick and fast. Australia, recognized as one of the world's premier big wave locations has remained somewhat dormant over the summer months but this new Tasmanian swell may provide entrants in the Monster Tube Ride category and Ride Of The Year category.
Despite a strong showing from the interstate surfers it was local Tasmanian charger Brennan who stole the show. Dropping into the biggest wave of the day, the 19-year-old negotiated a giant step in the wave-face before pulling into a huge tube ride. With both arms above his head, the natural footer rode through the tube and made the wave.
Both Longbottom and Towner have been recognized in the awards for tackling swells of equal size at the Shipstern Bluff break over the past three years. Longbottom won the Billabong XXL Monster Tube Ride Category for making a huge tube ride at the same break in 2005. Towner made international news bulletins in March 2006 when he paddled into what many people called the biggest wave ridden at the break without PWC assistance.
"There wasn't a lot of waves, but the ones that were there were as big and as good as it gets, there were some heavy ones ridden and it was a pretty crazy day," said Towner. "We went out really early in the morning and waited out at the break all day and it started to turn on late in the afternoon.
"There wasn't many paddle in waves, we just waited around for the big tow in waves and there were probably half a dozen that were crazy."
For Sunshine Coaster Goodall, the maiden trip down to Tasmania proved a sharp learning curve. Despite not finding the biggest waves of the session, negotiating the tricky break left him thirsty for another trip down.
"It was insane to go down there with all the boys and check the place out," said Goodall. "I have only really seen it on video, so it was cool to see it in real life."
"I didn't really get any of the big ones, but I'm super keen to get back down there and ride a huge wave one day."
The current entries for the 2007/08 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave awards can be viewed online at www.billabongxxl.com
Judges will scrutinize this latest session to see if any rides are worthy for inclusion in the awards.