There are a select few mad men down in Tasmania that have made it their life’s mission to surf the biggest waves their region has to offer. Slabs that break in freezing cold water with some very big fish to keep your mind dancing. Twenty-seven kilometres off the coast of Tassie Eddystone rock juts out of the ocean like Roman obelisk. To the left is Pedra Branca, one of the heaviest waves in Australia. On this day Tyler and James Hollmer Cross were on a mission to ride the biggest wave of their lives.
Tracks spoke with photographer Stu Gibson to recount that memorable day.
There are a tight-knit Tassie crew that consistently show up to surf the biggest waves down there. What drives the boys to go so hard?
Growing up in Tassie makes it hard to get good waves, especially big waves. It’s either 2 to 4 foot closeouts on all our beaches, or its 10 to 20 foot. There is no in-between sizes, so when the chance to get some big bombs is there the guys maximise it. With the exception of a few local lads that take on a few big fat points, there is pretty much one generation in Tassie that has had a real go at surfing big waves. Andy Campbell started it then all the boys took over once he left. It’s such a tight-knit group of roughly twenty guys, so when one of us does something we all do it. Aside from us there is no one. It’s kind of sad in my eyes all the crew have paved the way for other groms to get involved but no one has shown real enthusiasm, maybe we are all just freaks.
Describe shooting in 15 metre seas and calming your nerves to prepare for a session like that?
Shooting at Pedra is amazing but totally safe from the boat. It’s such a big area, waves break all over the place so shooting water isn’t a option. It’s also the one place in the world that I wouldn’t as there are some big, big fish out there.
Who stood out the most at Pedra that day?
Tyler and James Holmer-Cross, right from the start i could see it in their eyes. They were there for one reason, ride the biggest meanest waves of the day and take out the Oakely Big Wave Awards. The swell was rank. There were two swells big and bumpy, one wave would be sick the next a 40 foot closeout. It was one of those days where we all kind of question why we are out there. It’s so hard to read and the chance of getting a bomb on the head is very high. No one gets paid and all the guys are putting themselves in a situation where they could easily die.
See the whole feature in the March 2014 issue of Tracks.