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Thursday, 10 January 2008

Biggest wave ever surfed? 05th Jan 08

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker from Durban joined an elite crew of big wave chargers to defy Pacific Ocean storms and ride the biggest waves ever seen on the Cortes Bank, 160 kilometres off the coast of Southern California on Sunday 5 January.

Baker and an all-star trio of Californians Mike Parsons, Brad Gerlach and Greg Long set off in the tail end of a vicious storm at 7am in a high powered 12 metre speedboat designed and piloted by photographer Rob Brown. Arriving at 12 noon, the crew unloaded two jet skis and towed each other into waves with faces estimated at 25 metres (80 foot) before reloading as darkness fell and heading for home just before the next storm arrived in the area.

According to Long, it was the biggest waves any of the surfers had ever seen – by a significant margin. "We all rode the biggest waves of our lives by far," said Long. "Compared to the wave Mike had out there in 2001 (measured at 66 foot), this was so much bigger. I don't know how it looks in the photos, but I know I saw a lot of 80-foot-plus waves out there. It was the most incredible thing I've ever seen in my life."

The detailed data on the conditions was provided by veteran forecaster Sean Collins of who despite predicting giant waves, was skeptical that the group would find rideable conditions between the storms. As it turned out, the sun came out, the wind dropped and the quartet enjoyed an afternoon of epic surfing.

In addition to the thrill of riding the enormous waves on the isolated seamount, the trip was motivated by the quest to find and ride a 100 foot (30 metre) wave and inspired by the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards which honours the best exponents of big wave surfing annually.

Parsons, Gerlach and Long are all previous winners of Billabong XXL awards while Baker has been a finalist in the awards and gained international renown by winning the Mavericks Surf Contest in 2006.

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