The Bodysurfers Who Took On Sydney's Super Swell
COASTALWATCH | Swell Diary
The south swell that hit the NSW coast last week and across the weekend was epic in places. It was deemed dangerous for the general public with waves pounding in and sucking up over reefs, bomboras and destroying banks along beach breaks.
There was a group of people who aren't boardriders, that took to the water and scored money-can't-buy barrels and fast-paced faces. They could sit deeper in the lineup and could tuck tighter in the pocket than any surfer. They are bodysurfers.
Here are a couple of stories from around the traps of the days that made the headlines.
Daniel Carr is from the NSW Central Coast and on (big) Wednesday, he left home at 4am in search of some serious wave size. His original intent was to meet up with mates including Russel Pollard at Cape Solander where a not-too-often-seen reef was lighting up but after decided upon Cronulla point where crisp right-handers drew crowds on land and in the water.
"It was a bit of a secret mission," Carr admitted, "I hadn't informed my wife of my session and ended up late for work but it was a day I wasn't going to miss out on experiencing."
With up to 40 heads in the water at the point Carr swam out and started the wave intensive wave selection process. He said, "Sitting deep and going late when boardriders were unsuccessful on the paddle in." Pollard said "The waves were big, steep, cavernous and what you live for as a bodysurfer."
"Once on the wave you knew you were in for a ride, the faces were step and bubbling as you shot down. The lip then threw over to make an awesome barrel but as you learn with bodysurfing, you don't make it out of many. What ensued was a slow motion contest between me and the wave to go as long as possible, hoping someone from the shoulder saw how shacked I was before being rag dolled."
Pollard told a similar story of the morning, "Despite getting smoked on one, hitting bottom, tearing my suit and nearly losing a fin - I would do it again in a heartbeat."
For the bigger conditions, Carr was using his Bula handboard by Slyde Handboards, a smaller wicked concave that he said was ideal for holding the large wave faces.
He scored half a dozen waves in the session before checking the time and dashing to work. Unfortunately for Carr, the lie slowly unraveled as photos by Chris Stroh and Dylan Cope started making social media and a confession has since been made to his wife.
Rikki Gibley of the East Sydney bodysurfers says "As a bodysurfers we love the big stuff - more speed, bigger barrels and better views. Nothing better than being ‘girt by sea’ as they say. The waves last week were crazy; 10 ft at the begging of the week, 1ft in the middle of the week and 4ft to close it out."
"The killer swell at the beginning of the week moved a lot of sand around and created some great new peaks across our beaches. On Saturday the Northern Beaches were firing, the Narrabeen shore break was clean, slabby and provided some views to remember, and Avalon was shaping up nicely too."
SEE ALSO: Sydney Bombora Comes To Life
The beauty of being a bodysurfer is that you can ride all waves, all the time without changing your equipment. All you need is a good pair of fins, fin-savers,and a good handplane to get you through. "In steep hollow shore breaks a small handplane is the weapon of choice. Said Gibley. "Fast and nimble, they help you speed down the face, give you enough life to prevent you bottoming out and are easily wrapped up when you take a trip over the falls."
Sunday was the East Sydney Body Surfers (ESBS) weekly meet and Tamarama was the chosen location. "Surprisingly, we had it to ourselves as it seemed Bronte reef had attracted all the board riders." Said Gibley. "The waves were coming through in solid 3-4 sets, and were holding up a lot in the freight train of a rip running out through the middle of Tamarama bay, this did make a little difficult to get into the waves."
"As a bodysurfer, you don’t drop as quickly as a board rider and so the goal is to dig deep, swim hard and get down the face before the lip catches you, or sit on the inside and make that exhilarating late drop. In this scenario, the fins provide your power and the handplane gives you that extra lift to reduce your drag and get you down into the pocket. The reward: Clean faces, glassy walls, frothy hollows and smiles all round. A nice run of autumn swells this week."
Want to bodysurf with this group of frothers?
Join them on the Womp Camp at Treachery on the NSW Mid-North Coast 18 -19 June 2016.
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