Ross Clarke-Jones explains why the hardest part of riding a giant wave is actually getting there.
It’s early morning and the Storm Surfers team are surfing at a secret southeast break with local charger Paul Morgan. While Ross and Tom are enjoying the day, it’s Paul Morgan who’s really firing in his local surf. Furthermore, Ross and Tom are acutely aware that the southern surf season is quickly coming to an end, and the team still hasn’t found a truly remarkable swell. Of course, forecaster Ben Matson is the one who feels the most pressure. His job rests on his finding and predicting storms and subsequent swells for Ross and Tom, and like his two companions, he is growing worried about the impending end to the season.
While they wait, Ross and Tom outline their different yet equally as important training regiments. Tom, a gym junkie, focuses on increasing his body strength in order to fight back against wipeouts, which pose a serious risk to the body. Ross differs, instead focusing on his endurance and mental nerve.
But both of these systems will be tested soon, as Ben has finally found one last storm! A deep southern storm below Africa is sending a massive swell towards a remote reef of the West Coast of Australia, known only as Turtledove. It has never been ridden and at 30 miles off the coast of mainland Australia, it has never even been fully seen. Here, the ocean swells move to depths of two miles to twenty feet, slamming the reef with raw oceanic power. This could be Australia’s biggest wave.
To help decide, the team consults WA local Paul ‘Antman’ Patterson, who alerts them to a number of fishermen who claim to have witnessed massive waves at Turtledove while at sea. Ben is hesitant to embark on a dangerous and costly journey on a whim, but Ross and Tom decide to risk it all to give it a shot. Getting there will cost a fortune, but more importantly, so far out to sea, there is no help should they be injured.
Suddenly, the thought occurs, despite devoting their lives to the ocean, neither Ross nor Tom know CPR. To rectify this absurd issue, the two enlist the help of Paramedic and Marine First Aid Expert, Jamie Twight. Jamie teaches the guys a proper CPR technique and stresses the importance of calm in even the most dangerous situation. After this, the team begins to pack and Tom showcases his updated life-vest design, which includes a redesign of the rip-cord activated inflatable buoyancy vest.
They have three days until the swell arrives, and while an aerial reccy gives Ross and Tom some hope, it Ben leaves feeling less than confident about Turtledoves potential. Back on land, Ben outlines his fears and recommends that they reconsider, but Tom, Ross and Antman make a final decision – they will go. They just can’t miss the opportunity.
After a reflective visit to the famed Pinnacles in the Australian outback, the team heads on a 70ft cray fishing boat. The guys arrive to find a semi-flat swell, but there’s still time. After launching themselves into the water, the anxious wait pays off, and a large set barrels in. Even the ever present threat of great white sharks doesn’t mar the event, as the team are literally the first people to surf Turtledove and have actually found the biggest waves of the season. But this all comes crashing down when Tom wipes out…
He is found, thanks to his buoyancy vest, but while shaken, Tom is not defeated. If anything, the injury conscious surfer is feeling better (and angrier) than ever to defeat the swell. When the team has finished their successful mission, the skippers of the cray fishing boat guide them out to another secret break for one last surf, where the team reflects on their very successful season.