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. It'd been over 2 years since I had photographed any waves of consequence, it was driving me absolute bonkers and I needed to get my fix soon otherwise I'd do something stupid like crash a Redbull event...! So as it happened that's exactly what happened. I'd seen the forecast a week out and straight away put in for the weekend off plus the Monday and the plan was to drive down to a spot way past “Ours”. Following the storm down on the Saturday to stay in Sydney the night I was thinking to myself if they do call the Cape Fear event on I'd be a fool not to try to get in to the area to photograph it from somewhere with some of the international names on the invite list. So Cape Fear event it was going to be even though I wasn't on the photographers list! 2 years prior I applied to photograph the inaugural event but they said I wasn't a “credited” photographer what ever the fuck that means. Maybe because I haven't got an instagram page, haven't photographed heavy water outside of Ireland or just maybe being a red head my bulls are too red for them...
. Woke up the Sunday morning to pelting big fat nuggets of rain on the window, shit it pissed down all day. Checking the internet I saw the event was on for the next day but it was going to be run with mostly Australians but they still hadn't got them all confirmed yet, I guess with it going to be the biggest swell to have tried to surf it some were a bit dubious to it all. I still decided to stick it out and head down their first light to check it all out.
. Hardly any sleep that night due to trying to figure out how the frign heck I was going to get in to the area as I knew Redbull will have the site all blocked off and the thought I could actually get to witness something great go down I was up well before sunrise with a plan hatched, sorta... Checking the forecast it looked offshore and big enough, I've only been here once before and it was small so I had no idea what to expect. Arriving their I could see enough security guards to think the US president had arrived! Parking up past the event and walking out to the rock ledge looking down on the playing field it was heavy, real heavy. The swell bending as it felt the slab below then not really throwing out on the peak but more up and folding in on itself then reeling down the line like a freight train producing a warped sketchy barrel that any slab rider in the world would've been bricking it. A lone ski the only bit of scale out their made it look so flipn nasty and thick I had to wonder whether they'd still run the event. A few more people arrived and said they were running it if the surfers wanted to, it was up to them to call it apparently which was good I thought as no one should be forced into surfing this beast today.
. I was pretty excited with anticipation of what could lie ahead but then it all fell apart when security told us to leave as they were putting fences up. My heart sunk and out of pure desperation I asked the security guards to ring someone that can make a call to let me down to the event stage as an extra photographer for them, I even said I'd sign the paperwork and give the photos up but if they don't let me I'll still photograph it from somewhere so they may as well use me. The answer that came back was a simple no, so that just made me more determined. Cutting the public off to a surfing event is everything that is not surfing, surfing encourages all walks of life to enjoy the amazing feat of gliding on water whether you're a surfer, photographer or simply a spectator bringing smiles to all. It doesn't cut with me that Redbull can stop people entering the surf spot for 5 days saying it's a construction site due to safety reasons while a select few surfers go down the track bare footed with surfboards in hand. On the day there excuse is to control numbers, so does that mean every time Ours breaks big they're going to limit the amount of people to watch it, what a crop of bullshit.
. Anyway to cut a getting long story shorter I found my spot away from the fun police and these are the photos that I had the honour to capture and witness the heaviest surf contest I have ever seen. The waves were nuts and borderline insanity, I was in fear myself for everyone out their putting their lives on the line for each wave. The hero of the day for me which took on the biggest and gnarliest ones on that first day was Jughead, if he hadn't bounced his head off the slab he would've been right up there with Russell in the final. Saying that though I was only there for the first day and really all those who surfed that mutant beast are pure nuts and a huge inspiration to us all showing how to face your fears even if deaths cape is on your back, you guys are my heroes and I'll never forget this day. Despite my rants towards Redbull I do think it's a great event and run very well with the surfers safety in mind, it's a good concept and I wish Redbull the best for upcoming events their. But for fucks sake be a bit more open minded on who you let into the event, add another peanut gallery stand or something.
. I hope you all enjoy these warped bits of beautiful madness as much as I did capturing them.
ohh p.s. Red Bull have no permission to use these photos in any way
|Wonder if he was thinking let's win this or let's just survive, Russell on the walk in|
|Looks tempting enough here...|
|...but not very tempting here|
|Jughead luving it|
|James Adams picking his line|
|Jughead running out of speed fast!|
|Jesse Pollock not a great place to be|
|Jughead waterfall way|
|Jughead on a thick beast|
|Evan Faulks with style|
|Evan Faulks well below sea level|
|Evan Faulks fanning it|
|Richie Vaculik in a monster barrel|
|Richie Vaculik losing his head|
|Just feckn mental|
|Evan Faulks on a beauty|
|haha are you kidding me, capturing warped shit like this is what I live for|
|The "Eye" is watching us|
|Russell Bierke the winner on a prety screwed up looking wave|