COVER STORY

I WAS MESMERISED BY THIS HUGE FORCE OF NATURE SURROUNDING ME

James Carew searches... and scores

WORDS: James Carew PHOTOS: @Fningasurfkultura

Growing up as a surfer, ‘the search’ has always been in my blood. A tease of the perfect wave that you may never find, or only get glimpses of. I once got a call from good friend, Matchu Lopes, who told me to get on a plane, fast, and to get my ass out to him as there was a swell coming that was “gonna be pretty good.” I’d heard about the spot he was at but didn’t really understand exactly how good it was. I spent a few days pondering the trip but ultimately opted to fly back to Oz instead. That decision has been on my mind ever since. The swell that I missed was one of the best opportunities to score I’ve ever had. I think about it all the time. So when Matchu called again and forecasted, “It’s gonna be pretty good.”, I booked a flight that night.

I paced up and down the baggage collection waiting for my gear. Matchu picked me up, we grabbed a quick lunch and hit the water for a warm-up before the all-anticipated next day arrived. I grabbed a couple of barrels and some great sections for turns. The session was so good it almost made the trip worth it already. Just four of us on the water at a spot that anywhere else in the world would have had 40 guys fighting for the wave. It’s not a very long wave, but it’s just perfectly shaped.

First glimpse was better than 90% of the wave riding I got all year.

After a sleepless night we awoke to bombs crashing everywhere the next morning. The reef was creating monsters and funnelling them down the line. My hands were shivering in anticipation for that first session, or perhaps from so many coffees... As the wave is heavy duty everyone had told me to take it slow, have a good look first and basically just be careful. If you know me you know that after looking at one wave hit the reef I would be looking for a bomb to tame.

I found a meaty one and tried to figure out the reef from behind the peak. Pulling in was easy; it was the widest barrel I had ever been in with a kite. There was so much room I didn’t even know what to do, where to put my hand or if I should just stand there like it was nothing. I was mesmerised by this huge force of nature surrounding me.

As soon as I saw a way out, I was picked up, weightless for a second and then slammed down. The lip squashed me and tore the bar from my hands like candy from a baby.

The water was so forceful that I couldn’t even put my hands up to my face for protection. I must have looked like one of those car sales figures filled with air flapping in the wind. When I surfaced my was kite down, the leash was pulling me and I was wrapped in my lines. Not a fun feeling when the next one is coming at you with a lip the size of a human. I managed to quickly push the lines off me, duck under the wave and then fortunately launch my kite, shaking off the initiation. The hand shivering had slowed but I knew the swell was going to almost double by the end of the day, so had to get this place on lock to get some epic shots.

I can’t remember too many waves in detail but Matchu and I were screaming at each other out there for five hours straight, scoring some of the best barrels of my life on a kite. This place is something out of a dream, albeit perhaps a scary one.

Like most slabs it hits the reef and goes mental, real fast.

It was hard to figure out, but after a few close calls I got the hang of it and scored some very special visions. I’m pretty lucky to not only be travelling during these times, but also doing what I love; trying to push the level of our sport higher. We don’t always score and a lot goes into these trips, but looking back there are always good memories; waves or not. The feeling of being fully surrounded by the ocean is almost indescribable. It’s quiet and slow, but at the same time incredibly fast and loud. The only way to understand it is to be out there. The spot remains a secret. I didn’t even tell my family! This trip will be in the memory bank for a long time.

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