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!”