Un­cles

New Zealand Surfing - - News -

Like most big wave spots n this coun­try and across the world, the ini­tial tip off came from fish­er­men. The dis­cov­ery of this break came about by ac­ci­dent while on a mis­sion to check out a fish­er­man’s tip. Over the six years prior Blair Ste­wart and I who had been quite taken by these sto­ries of gi­ant tubes had planned to jour­ney out here and check it all out yet ob­sta­cle af­ter ob­sta­cle seemed to pop up time and time again. Cars broke down, skis wouldn’t start and crew pulled out and the idea was put on ice for quite some time. Un­til the morn­ing of the 10th of Oc­to­ber 2009, driven by the hype and ex­cite­ment of a one Sam ‘Sanga’ Wil­lis most of the crew of North Is­land tow surfers had been as­sem­bled in one place, only ex­pect­ing one thing, a chance look at a pos­si­ble wave that no one re­ally knew even ex­isted or not or was even ride­able. We had even or­gan­ised a mad boat cap­tain and Tom Cruise look alike to run ex­tra fuel and act as a safety boat, we had never had or thought of a safety boat ever be­fore and it was al­most as if we knew what was about to hap­pen be­fore it did. We knew the swell was big but once we turned the cor­ner around the shel­ter of the point and out into open ocean we were mes­merised, here we were rid­ing up gi­ant open ocean swells so big that even though we were av­er­ag­ing 40-50KPH on the smooth wa­ter each swell took sev­eral sec­onds to ride up be­fore hov­er­ing off the back, they were sim­ply gi­ant rolling moun­tains, and com­pletely for­eign to any of us. It seemed as we mo­tored up the coast that there were hu­mungous waves break­ing in slow mo­tion on reefs every­where, the ques­tion was, which was the reef we were sup­posed to be head­ing too? The de­scrip­tions given all looked the same from out here. In the dis­tance an over­size A-frame would hold up and throw out with mist loi­ter­ing in the air well af­ter each wave broke, this was our wave surely? As we neared closer, an­other dis­trac­tion caught our eye fur­ther out to sea off to the left, what can only be de­scribed as com­pa­ra­ble to the sight of atomic det­o­na­tions we were drawn to­ward that far off reef to get a closer in­spec­tion, the prob­lem was af­ter ten min­utes of mo­tor­ing then 20 the wave still did not ap­pear to be­come any big­ger in our vi­sion, with no land mass to draw a scale upon it was only once we pulled up right along­side that the sit­u­a­tion be­came clear. As each of the crews ar­rived and tip toed around the reef ten­ta­tively show­ing re­spect to this an­gry beast and not want­ing to get to close. DK and Sam Wil­lis weren’t fazed in the slight­est and were im­me­di­ately up in­side the zone in the very mouth of this an­i­mal. This was the first time that we had a ma­te­rial ob­ject to give scale against and as each slab of ocean reared up, slabbed out and thun­dered down on that reef blow­ing back out a side­ways det­o­na­tion wave, calls such as “Fuck that” and “Some­one will die” were heard. The gen­eral con­sen­sus amongst all, was this wave was sim­ply un-sur­fa­ble and skis were al­ready started with the thoughts of go­ing back to check these other waves we had spied, when DK the most ex­pe­ri­enced of us all in this field, sim­ply said “Guys let’s just watch for a while and see what she can show us” Then af­ter only ten min­utes the front hatch of his ski opened and out came the rope with in­struc­tion to Sanga to whip me into a small one. All eyes were fo­cussed at this point surely he wasn’t se­ri­ous? A few waves ex­ploded through which looked around 12 foot, which DK let slide on by pre­fer­ring to start with a small one to get his feet, the next lump ap­peared a lot smaller than those pre­vi­ous and DK went, it was then that it be­came damn real, damn fast what we were in fact deal­ing with, if this wave which DK was now hov­er­ing down was a small one and it was at least six times over­head then those other beasts had to be at least 30 even 40 foot! That day was hands down the most piv­otal ses­sion in the era of NZ big wave surf­ing, fi­nally here was a wave that al­though it sat 25K out to sea, it had been here un­der our nose all these years, the only wave so far that could ri­val any­thing around the world. Mas­sive waves were rid­den over the next six hours and many that dwarfed those rid­den were missed through sim­ple in­ex­pe­ri­ence. Time would sharpen these crews acts, yet that was to be till this day the best and big­gest we ever saw that wave, and ‘Un­cles’ be­came the hottest property in NZ surf­ing. For the next six months it seemed ev­ery sec­ond week we were head­ing for that hori­zon and while we be­came fa­mil­iar with its moods and tem­per­a­ment, some amaz­ing waves were rid­den over the next few years, the crew that had ded­i­cated them­selves to a shot at a day like that first one were prepped and ready, mis­takes and lessons learnt in the field were picked to pieces, this was no place for a mishap to take place. We all en­tered ev­ery mis­sion out there know­ing we all had each other’s back, if some­thing went wrong to some­one’s equip­ment or phys­i­cal self, it hap­pened to all of us, there was no room for self­ish­ness or rene­gade be­hav­iour. At some stage some­one’s ski old or new could break down and we all agreed that was mis­sion over for ev­ery­one, not sort it yourself we’re out there! For these very rea­sons alone, for those few years our crew and the mis­sions out be­yond that hori­zon you could say were al­most a closed shop, we wel­comed guys into our group if an­other couldn’t make it. Yet when sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als and crews came sniff­ing dur­ing those first few years, those with next to no ex­pe­ri­ence or no prepa­ra­tion well as elit­ist as it sounds we had to throw them off the scent! Too much had been in­vested as a team, hun­dreds of hours of train­ing and re­con­nais­sance, and thou­sands more hours sit­ting, wait­ing for the rare con­di­tions. The last thing any of us wanted was to be­come re­spon­si­ble for and have our ses­sion put in jeop­ardy by lone soldiers. We wel­comed ex­pe­ri­enced teams pre­pared to work with us with open arms, and the door is still open! Yet for the last three years the old Un­cle has been sleep­ing, could this win­ter be the sea­son of his re­turn? Only time will tell!

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