SHIP­STERNS

MARTI PAR­A­DI­SIS HAS DED­I­CATED HIS LIFE TO ONE OF THE COLD­EST, LEAST HOS­PITABLE WAVES ON THE PLANET.

Tracks - - Arrows - Words: Jed Smith

In what might be the most Tas­ma­nian thing ever, one of the first faces you see af­ter dis­em­bark­ing your flight at Ho­bart Air­port is Marti Par­a­di­sis man­ning the counter at the air­port’s Bud­get Car Rental desk. That a man re­spon­si­ble for some of the most heroic feats in re­cent surf­ing his­tory could spend the peak of his pow­ers chained to a desk at an air­port might seem a cruel in­jus­tice, but not to Marti.

“I have a good re­la­tion­ship with the peo­ple I work with there and they know how pas­sion­ate I am about surf­ing, and they ap­pre­ci­ate it, so yeah it’s work­ing out,” he says.

He’s been in the gig for six years now, which has given him enough flex­i­bil­ity to jug­gle shifts and chase waves while also pay­ing off a mort­gage. More im­por­tantly, it’s al­lowed him to re­dis­cover the joy of surf­ing with­out the stress of hav­ing to do it for money.

“Once the money did end, it was an in­ter­est­ing time. I had to change my life­style but I em­braced these changes be­cause I knew it was go­ing to make me a hap­pier per­son,” says Marti, who bat­tled se­vere anx­i­ety at the peak of his pow­ers.

“I felt this huge re­lease and from that mo­ment on, ev­ery surf I was just hav­ing so much fun. I froth out on any­thing from one foot drib­ble to 15 foot per­fec­tion. It doesn’t mat­ter. I still love it, I still en­joy ev­ery minute of it. I think that was a bless­ing to hap­pen to me,” he says.

With Red Bull’s Cape Fear event at Ship­sterns loom­ing he’s buzzing with an­tic­i­pa­tion.

“It’s a com­pe­ti­tion, it’s gonna go down on a nuts day and we’ll do what we do on ev­ery other nuts day. It’ll pack up, the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact will be min­i­mal be­cause it will be an on­line stream­ing live comp. I think it’s gonna be pretty suc­cess­ful,” he says.

Marti was 17 when he stum­bled upon the se­cret that would change his life for­ever. He’d just fin­ished mow­ing the lawn of neigh­bour and Tas­ma­nian big wave leg­end, James “Polly” Pol­lanowski, and, ea­ger to col­lect his pay­ment - a hand­ful of mar­i­juana - had gone snoop­ing around the house to look for him. He found Polly along with three oth­ers seated around a TV, “watch­ing footage of this fucken 15 foot slab and they all looked at me and said, ‘Shut the door and don’t say a word,” he re­calls.

The other men were An­drew Camp­bell, the Ship­sterns pi­o­neer who had been walk­ing two hours in alone for years to surf it alone. The fa­mous lens­man An­drew Chisholm was there as was a lo­cal leg­end, Stokesy.

“I was like, fuck, what is this? Is that Ship­pies? They were like, yeah, this is Ship­pies. Don’t say you’ve seen this footage, keep it un­der wraps,” he re­calls.

They agreed to take him down the next time they went. It was around a year late, by which time Marti es­ti­mates they’d prob­a­bly done “an­other half a dozen trips” be­fore his phone rang one mid-morn­ing and he was told to get his gear to­gether.

“I just packed a wet­tie, didn’t have any boards suited at all, we ran down there, went around in this lit­tle tin­nie, and it was bomb­ing. A beau­ti­ful 12 to 15 foot,” he re­calls.

Marti quickly re­alised he was way out of his league.

“I don’t think I even wanted one. I was so in awe of what I was look­ing at and ap­pre­ci­at­ing it,” he says.

“It was the most eye open­ing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I was just star­ing into these bar­rels I couldn’t even fathom,” re­calls Marti.

He sat in chan­nel let­ting the spit canon into his face while Andy at­tempted to pad­dle it alone. Af­ter go­ing back­wards over the step on his sec­ond wave, he came up barely able to move and the boys were forced to rush in and drag him back to the boat. He made a full re­cov­ery but it was a fit­ting in­tro­duc­tion to the wave.

“It’s the type of place where the wave can mu­tate in­side it­self and no mat­ter how skil­ful you are it can eat you up. There’s al­ways gonna be in­juries out there,” he says.

So be­gan a fre­netic cou­ple of years in the life of Ship­sterns and Marti Par­a­di­sis. Not long af­ter the first ever footage of the wave ap­peared in the film Ir­ratika un­der the alias “VD Land” af­ter Andy took his Bil­l­abong team­mate Dave Ras­tovich down to surf it. That was fol­lowed by the now sem­i­nal Tracks Mag­a­zine trip led by cur­rent WSL com­mis­sioner, Kieren Per­row along with pro surfers Drew Court­ney and Mark Mathews. The en­su­ing cover shot and mag­a­zine spread sent shock­waves around the surf­ing world. The word was out. With some of Tassie’s el­der states­men al­ready cap­i­tal­is­ing, Marti and the next gen­er­a­tion wanted in. It would take at least two more ses­sions be­fore he made a proper wave out there but when he did it changed ev­ery­thing.

“You were pad­dling into this swell line that was so much big­ger than any­thing you’d tried to pad­dle into be­fore,” he re­calls.

“This wave came through, I pad­dled in, stood up, went over the step, and got my line. As soon as it bar­relled over me I knew I’d made it and to come out with the spit sealed the deal,” he says.

“Any time it broke from that time on­wards we were all there as a pack just fucken froth­ing out and push­ing each other. It was just some­thing that we did for the next decade on­wards. Alls we wanted to do was surf it as much as we could and push each other and just have a hell time,” he says.

Raised in a land­locked sub­urb of Ho­bart, an hour from the coast, Marti body­boarded un­til 13. Dar­ing ocean ad­ven­tures are some­thing

“I DON’T THINK I EVEN WANTED ONE. I WAS SO IN AWE OF WHAT I WAS LOOK­ING AT AND AP­PRE­CI­AT­ING IT”

Photo: Chisholm

Op­po­site: In his suit of rub­ber ar­mour Marti Par­a­di­sis has con­quered Tas­ma­nia’s fa­tal shores.

Photo: Chisholm

Be­low: Marti Par­a­di­sis en­joy­ing the best view The Bluff has to of­fer.

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