Ryan Hipwood, 23, of Queensland is one of the world's most promising young big wave maestros. On this beautiful, big, scary day at Tasmania's Shipstern Bluff, Ryan picked up this wave (pictured), hoping for the best.
Ten seconds later, he was in mid-air – inside the wave's colossal, living-room-sized mouth!
Ryan had rocketed off Shipstern's notorious "step" – a vicious warp halfway down the wave, caused by the uneven reef below. "I saw the second step coming a mile away and thought 'oh shit' and I got really low to brace myself," a stoked, yet shaken Ryan told Australia's Surfing Life later. "I had so much speed that by the time I hit (the step) it launched me so far."
The result? One of the Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards' most spectacular entries yet, which sees Ryan in the running to claim a share of the $30,000 in cash up for grabs this year.
Unbelievably it was Ryan's first ever surf at the formidable break several hours' drive, walk and boat trip south of Hobart in the Tasman National Park.
He was "towed in" to the treacherous monster behind a jetski piloted by renowned Bra Boy Koby Abberton and the amazing ride was captured by Maroubra based photographer Rodd Owen.
If Ryan half expected to end up on the bare granite rocks facing the break, he was happily disappointed. "The wave doesn't push you in towards the rocks that much, but there were a few scares," he says. "On one big wipeout, I got the next one on the head and my board was pretty much on the rocks, so yeah, it was pretty close."
He was modest when it came to wave size estimates, however. "When you're on it, it's kinda hard to judge how high it is. I don't really know what the biggest wave is, I reckon once they get to a certain point they are just 'big waves'."
For the complete image sequence and a full transcript of the interview with Ryan Hipwood, visit www.surfinglife.com.au.
Stay tuned to www.surfinglife.com.au/bigwaveawards for all the latest entries in the Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards. With just under three months remaining in the competition period and a very active southern ocean making its presence felt from Western Australia to New Zealand, not to mention an impending cyclone season further north, the scene is set for another bar-pushing, precedent-setting Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards.
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 and culminates in an awards night at Bondi attracting surf stars, celebrities and all walks of media.