Ben Wilson has scored the world’s largest kitesurfed wave ever. The experienced rider has taken an incredible wall at the infamous surf spot of Cloudbreak, Namotu Island, in Fiji.
Ben Wilson doing the impossible
Wilson has been trying to ride the biggest wave possible with a kite for more than five years. “Probably the most exciting thing about chasing a swell, like the one we caught in Fiji, is that the swell travels from very far away, so it has so much energy and intensity”, says the kitesurfing pioneer.
The biggest wave captured on film happened on the 20th May 2011. “When I dropped into that wave, it never let me get to the bottom of the wave. I felt that I was in a motionless wave. All I knew was that I put so much effort into this moment that I needed to hold on till the very end”, he adds.
Ben Wilson is one of the best wave kitesurfers in the world. He has already released “Smack” and “The Unknown Road”, two DVD’s in which he teaches how to improve skills, get confident unhooking and master riding strapless.
The wave rider has also established his own kitesurf brand, Ben Wilson Surf. Source: SurferToday
The first wetsuit with a built-in instantly inflatable air bladder has been invented. This outstanding new survival development was developed by big wave legend Shane Dorian, Billabong Wetsuits and Mustang Survival Corporation.
Named “Billabong V1″, the revolutionary wetsuit was designed after Dorian’s 2010 near-drowning incident, in Maverick’s, the notorious cold-water break south of San Francisco, California.
Inflatable wetsuit: it might save your big wave riding life
“I took off on the wrong wave and had a horrible wipeout,” recalled Dorian. “The wipeout was terrible, I got held under for two waves, I almost drowned. After that I had an idea to incorporate an air bladder, something like the airplane vests where you pull the tab and it inflates immediately with a CO2 cartridge.”
With a quick tug on a ripcord, the wetsuit quickly lifts the wearer from deep underwater to the surface. The 38-year-old surfer, father of two, wanted to play it safe, in the future. Dorian wrote an email to Hub Hubbard, the wetsuit product manager at Billabong USA, describing the idea, and the project was underway.
The design evolved over time. “Their initial thought, as was mine, was to position the bladder on the chest of the suit so once the wearer surfaced it would help them to be face-up,” said Hubbard. “Not so, as Shane pointed out, because once you have surfaced you still need to be able to paddle your surfboard. So logically we decided it should go on the back, which still keeps the wearer face-up while inflated.”
“The design of the suit is pretty simple actually,” said Hubbard. “We added a large zippered pocket on the back of the suit to contain the bladder, which is attached to an inflator and CO2 cartridge which are ‘docked’ between your shoulder blades so you don’t even notice it. A pull cord runs over the shoulder to a handle on the upper chest..you just pull it like a parachute and up you go.”
Dorian tested various prototypes in calm water and in small, before pushing the limits in larger and larger waves. “The first time I used it was at Cortes Bank this winter, 100 miles off the Southern California coast,” recalled Dorian. “The waves were super big and I paddled into a really big wave and had a bad wipeout, got pushed under super far and I thought ‘this is the perfect time to test this thing.’ I pulled my cord and I went from nearly panicking to being totally relaxed. I didn’t swim, I just let the thing bring me up.”
On March 15, 2011, Shane Dorian and a small group of top big wave surfers paddled into record-breaking waves at Jaws on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Dorian caught an amazing 57-foot wave on that day, winning both the Monster Paddle and Monster Tube categories of the 2011 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards.
When he pulled into the biggest tube of all time and failed to come out, he was pounded by the wave and driven deep underwater, where he deployed the Billabong V1 inflation mechanism. He rocketed to the surface and climbed back onto his surfboard, paddling off to the channel with a conspicuous hump on his back.
While Billabong does not currently have plans to sell the V1 to the broader market, the surfwear company is committed to make it available to all members of the big wave riding elite.
“First and foremost, we designed this thing to help save lives,” said Dorian. “I’ve had three or four really close friends die surfing in really big waves and every single one of them drowned. And now that it’s done, now that the thing is ready to go, I’m excited to give it to all my friends who are the very best big wave surfers in the world”. Source: SurferToday
Laird Hamilton, Eddie Aikau, Jeff Clark, Mark Foo, Ross Clarke-Jones, Mike Parsons, Grant Baker, Greg Long, João de Macedo, Shane Dorian, Ken Bradshaw and Maya Gabeira share one statement. They would go.
In big wave surfing, time and timing are two different things. There’s a time to go for it, to paddle hard and the stand-up timing. The rest is courage, experience and knowledge.
That’s why surfing in the most extreme spots and weather conditions is so uncomfortable. It requires preparation – physical and logistics – and the risk of leaving family and friends forever. If you really aim to surf big, you have to try the diversity of these wave peaks and ride them all, one by one. Some offer wind and swell adversity, others require slab experience and the rest can get really big.
Big wave surfing is a truly extreme sport
Banzai Pipeline is a surf classic. The Hawaiian reef break can turn into a deadly cavern very easily. In the last ten years Joshua Nakata, Joaquin Velilla, Malik Joyeux, Jon Mozo and Moto Watanabe have lost their lives in the spot.
Belharra is an outer reef break located off the town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in France. This gigantic wave Belharra has a massive lip that may end your wish to surf for the rest of your life. In Jaws, Maui, waves can easily reach 35 metres (120 ft). Sometimes, the only way to surf the wave is by pressing the tow-in button. If you fail, reef and rocks will eat you.
Mullaghmore Head and Prowlers are the biggest wave Ireland has to offer. With a rainy and windy scenario, these waves are absolutely fearful. Watch out and never ride them alone. Nazaré, in Portugal, is so powerful that may hold the “surfboard breaking machine” nickname. The undersea canyon creates giant waves that can only be surfed by experienced big wave surfers.
Pico Alto, in Peru, is considered the largest wave in South America. This big wave surf spot challenges everything. Your fear, your safety and your life. Needless to say it is one of the few stages of the Big Wave World Tour. Punta de Lobos is the goofy footer’s big wave heaven in Chile. Expect fast drops and giant lips. Escape, if possible, with no injuries.
Shipsterns Bluff, in Tasmania, is such a powerful wave that getting barreled may not be a wise option. It is one of the most dangerous waves in the world and there’s not an hospital nearby. Teahupoo has already taken many lives. Fast, shallow, tubular and heavy wave. This reef break delivered what is considered the “heaviest wave” ever ridden. Laird Hamilton did it.
The Wedge, in USA, is almost known as a shore break. If you go over the falls, an injury will certainly visit your body. Local surfers have already ended up as quadriplegics, here. Todos Santos, in Mexico, gets monstrous quite often. This big wave surfer’s heaven has plenty of adrenaline for sale. The ‘Killers’ wave is ferocious.
Yakutat, in Alaska, is the ultimate cold surfing experience. Temperatures can get below minus 20ºC, which means waves almost get frozen. Helmets required. Source: SurferToday
Chuck Patterson is a fearless waterman. The former pro skier has re-lit the new surfing concept started Mike Douglas and Cody Townsend: wave skiing.
In the latest big swell, Patterson headed to Maui to test himself. The result is absolutely amazing, as he took the huge waves of Jaws with a couple of skis and the helping hand from tow-surfers.
The final result is absolutely incredible, as it combines the skills of mountain skiing with the authenticity of surfing waves. “I had a good idea that it was possible, but it really made a big difference having a solid background in skiing and big-wave tow-in surfing to really push it in big waves,” Patterson told the Ski Channel.
Surfing Jaws, like descending the Alps, takes preparation and safety procedures, too. “There’s a lot that goes into making it all happen safely even before you hit the water, and after that is when the fun begins.”
Wave skiing is possible and he will continue riding giants. “Gliding into a 40-foot clean, open-faced wave has a lot of the same characteristics that you find when dropping off a cornice into a steep chute with fresh snow,” Patterson said. “Aside from the surface being water, it’s almost the same feeling. Once you let go of the rope and glide down the face making turns to stay in the pocket, it’s totally addicting.” Source: SurferToday
Everyone has experienced surf fear at one time or another
Surf fear. Who hasn’t experienced it yet? Everyone dreams of surfing a giant 30-foot wave, in Hawaii, Jaws, Mavericks, Todos Santos or Teahupoo, but sometimes fear simply drives your body away from it.
Having fear is normal. When you have fear of something, your body and mind protect yourself from what is supposed to be a danger or menace. It’s a natural instinct of defense and survival. There are many fears associated with surfing and wave sports. The most common surf fear is wave height. We fear to ride big waves for three reasons: the pure and “simple” wipe-out from the top of a giant wall of water, the chance of hitting a reef or a rocky bottom and drowning or the loss of breath.
These surfing fears are very often compiled into one: duck diving several set waves, while paddling to the line-up. As we’ve experienced a few bad experiences, our memory tends to recall them to issue a warning. Fear is always building layers, unless we battle or manage them efficiently. A smaller number of surfers refer the fear of sharkw, storms, lightning, currents and localism and being hit by surfboards as part of their inner surf demons.
There are some tricks that can be rehearsed to reduce fear of big waves. A good idea is to go swimming, instead of surfing. The process of getting used to a scenario helps you build confidence. The feeling you get 15 minutes after playing around big waves is completely different from the one you get when you arrive at the beach. Why? Because you got used to the environment.
Another way of fighting the surf ghosts of the past is by trying positive visualization, a technique of building strong positive emotions. Whether you’re already in the line-up or just dressing your wetsuit, try to imagine yourself successfully surfing a big wave. Repeat the process as many times as you can. One thing is certain. There is no pressure. You have all the time in the world to ride a 4-foot, then a 6-foot, a 10-foot and finally a 20-foot wave. Surfing is supposed to be an enjoyable sport. Take your time, build your own confidence and train rides by levels.
Then, you’ll know. Go for it. No fear. Source: SurferToday