On the final day of the event waiting period, the inaugural Red Bull Cape Fear ran last Saturday in Sydney’s unforgiving Botany Bay with 16 of the planet’s best big wave surfers having their way with six-to-eight foot sets over a one of the world’s deadliest reefs.
With the likes of Shane Dorian, Jamie O’Brien, Bruce Irons and Ian Walsh among other big names in the water, there was never going to be a dull moment. And Ryan Hipwood made sure of it with the very first wave of the contest, pulling into a heavy slab and staying out of sight for what seemed an eternity before emerging triumphant and with the eventual win over Hawaii’s O’Brien.
It was the ideal start to a glorious day of surfing that saw almost all locals take the wins over their respective international rivals.
Mark Mathews © Bill Morris/Red Bull
Contest director Mark Mathews got the better of childhood hero Shane Dorian, despite surfing with a back injury, the pair exchanging blows for 40-minutes of paddle-in surfing before Mathews carried home the ship wheel trophy and $10,000 prize purse.
He was the second of eight winners crowned from their respective one-on-one bouts, with locals Richie Vas, Kirk Flintoff, Koby Abberton and Jesse Polock also claiming victories. A fierce Laurie Towner and untouchable Dean Morrison rounded out the winners’ list to ensure an Australian clean-sweep against their US and Hawaiian counterparts.
And while a host of barrels from the likes of Irons, Walsh, Hipwood, Dave Rastovich, Sam Macintosh and James Adams will be certain to make the highlights reel, perhaps the most memorable moment of the day belongs to Bra Boy, Cape Fear pioneer and renowned local Koby Abberton, who wiped-out before even making it into the water.
If there were an award for heaviest entry into the water Abberton would have claimed it. At the very wave that made him notorious he unwittingly proved just why the location is considered so brutal, being tossed by a breaking bomb into the air and crushed against the barnacle-covered rocks before eventually toppling into the water.
A safety crew was on hand but Abberton wasn’t about to embarrass himself at his home break – again – and made up for it with a scintillating win over good friend Irons.
While the swell could have been bigger, the surfing gods didn’t offer up the 10-12 monsters competitors and event organisers anticipated, the event which was two years in the making still proved a true success.