After a career tackling monster swells along the coast near is home in southwest Western Australia, Alfy Cater is no stranger to the kind of beating the Southern Ocean can dish out. But when a wipeout at the notoriously-heavy Right last year ended an otherwise memorable session and left photographer Tim Swallow temporarily numb from the neck down last year, he decided to make a mini-doco of the session.
Just back in the water himself after 18 months ashore with a back injury, it was the first time Cater had shot with the young fashion photographer.
“I though what could go wrong? Then, sure enough - we ended up at the hospital... I didn’t actually see him go down. The boys on the ski were yelling, ‘Go! Go and get him. He came up limp and he was lying there in the water. He was cross-eyed and couldn’t really talk. He just grabbed onto the rope and wouldn’t let go, just in survival mode. He was coughing up a bloody mist out of his lungs. It was pretty heavy. I had to jump off the ski and skull-drag him onto the sled.”
With Tim on the sled, the team hit more trouble en route back to the boat ramp.
“We ended up getting bogged on a sandbar for a good half hour trying to drag the ski off,” said Alfy. “Once we got in, we got changed and took him to hospital and spent the night there with him.“
Though there was no permanent damage, the experience put Tim out of action for some time. “He was out for about a week after that. All the next day when we were driving home he was throwing up salt water,” said Alfy.
With the medical situation sorted, it was time to sort out the footage.
“We normally take a filmer and a photographer on these missions but we never seem to do anything with the footage... so I thought we might put something together. I saw a film festival coming up and we only had about three weeks to put it together. We actually almost lost the whole film. Final Cut crashed on the last day before the deadline. We managed to salvage it. We were pretty pumped to get it back."
Sixteen-year old Zac Haynes also features. “He’s only 16 years old, but he’s got really good wave sense," sais Alfy. "We’ve paddled quite a few times at big Margarets and he paddled Cow Bombie with us on one of those big days. He’s just got back from Mavericks too.”
"That session was a pretty special day - the first time Zac had surfed the place, it was Tim’s first time shooting the place and it was my first time back in the water after my back injury.”
You can find out more about the clip and its creators on their Vimeo page...