There are big waves and then there are REALLY big waves. When most people think about big waves Hawaii immediately springs to mind, but there are plenty of places around the globe that have big surf and quite a few of them are a lot closer to home then you think.
Portugal has been in the news recently as big wave maniac’s head to Nazare to ride ridiculously big surf (in 2013 Garrett McNamara set a world record riding a 34m monster at Nazare… that’s over 100 feet in the old scale).
Bells Beach near Torquay can get its fair share on big waves… most people in Torquay still talk about 1981 when 15ft plus waves rolled into Bells Beach on Easter Saturday during the Rip Curl Pro. It was the same contest where Simon Anderson launched his new 3 fin ‘Thruster’ design that would change the face of surfing forever (Simon also went on to dominate the big waves on his new surfboard design and eventually win the contest).
There are also quite a few spots ‘Down South’ from Bells Beach where huge waves are regularly ridden by a small but dedicated core of big wave surfers.
Tasmania gets a few big waves. Shipsterns is now a well known wave spot which has a reputation for being big, cold and mean. The west coast of Tassie has also recorded some of the biggest waves in Australia as they surge north heading for Bells Beach and other parts of Victoria.
The Aussie record goes to Justin Holland who in June 2015 rode a 20 metre wave at Cow Bombie off the coast of Western Australia. Things were going well for Holland on this beast of a wave until he was smashed by tonnes of whitewater, breaking his leg in the process.
Another record was set recently south-east of Tasmania when a massive 23.8 metre was recorded heading north off Campbell Island. This was the largest wave in the Southern Hemisphere recorded by a wave buoy.
If you are wanting to know how big a 24 metre wave is, stand under the light towers at GMHBA Stadium and imagine a wave going one-third up the towers main structure…. that’s how big this wave was that cruised up the Tasman Sea last month.
There are surfers who dedicate their lives to chasing big waves around the globe. They can have the fame, the glory and the broken bones… I’m content to catch something a lot smaller.
Written by John Foss