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For surfers travel is usu­ally about look­ing for their ul­ti­mate wave-rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. For some, that might be bob­bing around in an air-con­di­tioned boat in the Mentawai. For oth­ers it might be do­ing it rough and real – head­ing off the beaten track, shun­ning first world com­fort, and at­tempt­ing to sync with lo­cal cul­tures. For Rus­sell Bierke it’s about putting him­self wher­ever the ocean is serv­ing up the big­gest waves, and re­cently he’s re­ally been go­ing af­ter it.

It all started late last year when Russ trav­elled to Ire­land to try his hand at the cold wa­ter be­he­moth of Mul­lagh­more (which you can see more of ion pg 68). From there the swells kept lin­ing up and Russ was de­ter­mined not to miss any of them. The next stop was Jaws, which you can see pic­tured here.

“This Jaws swell was huge but far from per­fect,” re­mem­bered Russ of the ses­sion as he wrote from the back of a car, yet again in tran­sit; on this oc­ca­sion it was Ja­pan. “Op­posed to the usual gi­ant walls, this time it was shifty peaks. I’d pad­dled around dodg­ing cleanups for a cou­ple hours when a good-look­ing wall stood up in front of me … It wasn’t ex­actly the warm up wave I was look­ing for, but I was rid­ing a brand new 10’2” my dad had just fin­ished shap­ing and put my faith in him. Thank­fully the board worked per­fectly, let­ting me pick a high line through the bowl and I made it to the chan­nel in one piece.”

“I got back to the peak buzzing from my last one and pad­dled straight into the path of a mas­sive clean-up set. Un­der­wa­ter I could hear leashes snap­ping all around me, and sure enough on the se­cond wave I felt mine pop too. By the time I got to the rocks my brand new board was de­stroyed.”

From there, Russ trav­elled to Mavericks on main­land USA, for what would be one of the largest swells in me­mory at the wave. Young and bold, Russ now fully ac­cepts that if he wants to sat­isfy his lust for waves of mag­ni­tude, he will need to clock up the fre­quent flyer miles.

“Lately I’ve been su­per keen to chase waves over­seas. I feel like I’m on a good roll and hope­fully it con­tin­ues into the south­ern hemi’ win­ter!”

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