Watch: The best clips of 2018

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Any sort of 'best of' list is gonna skirt controversy, though the list you see here shouldn't create too much fuss. Each wave expanded the possibilities in surfing, from Albee Layer's 720°, to Koa Smith's never ending story, and Twig's effort at Jaws that will surely go down in Noll-like folklore. For mine, shortlisted waves include Filipe Toledo's Saquarema air, plus one or two from Chipper and Kerby Brown.

Comments

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 11:45am

Personal best wave for 2018 was a wave caught on a new 7’6” Gunter Rohn pintail copied off a local legends weapon of choice. After a couple of extraordinarily windy trial runs , my opinion of the board was still in question.

A day arrived that was also ultra windy but the wind was looking likely to drop with the tide and an increasing swell. I took the Gunter out mid tide and still windy to get a few whilst everyone waited for the conditions to optimise. When the wind dropped it happened way quicker than anticipated and by the time crew took advantage I’d scored a few pearlers including my wave of the year , the type of wave that just comes to you as though it was born with you in mind . A few easy strokes and into it whereby the Gunter showed it’s true colours immediately. Standing on the sweet spot with barely a crouch , the board speared the entire length of the reef seamlessly in the glassiest , most beautiful pit you could imagine.

Thank you very much , Gunter Rohn. I literally couldn’t have done it without you. Staring at the board now as a seemingly perpetual onshore wind pushes an armada of blue bottles through weak , wind swell slop , it feels like a lifetime ago.

Every dog has their day....and you never know when your next one is going to show up. That’s why surfing is so , so fucking good.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 12:49pm

What I wouldn't give for one of those kind of waves right now. Can definitely relate to that feeling, when a wave comes and absolutely everything about it feels right. Would love to see a pic of the board!

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 11:44am

This morning I surfed some barely-there 1 foot beachbreaks on a big log. It's hard to connect the sensations of that morning session with what any of those waves must have felt like.

And sure, it's over done, but Skeleton Bay is a freak of nature.

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 12:29pm

I like your thinking Blowin and the GR 7'6" sounds sweet.

My wave of the year came in the middle of a campervan tour of NZ's North Island back in early April. It was only my second time on a new self-shaped 5'10" and our visit to Manu Bay at Raglan just happened to coincide with a new 2.5m SE swell that Craig kindly sent up across the Tasman Sea for us. A gentle onshore was blowing at first light, but not strong enough to bugger anything up, with 4-5 foot sets rolling down the point with satisfying regularity.

There were plenty of bodies in the water, which is to be expected at such a popular spot, but I jumped off the rocks and sat quietly out the back, picking off the odd wave that broke too wide for the rest of the pack. I got a few reasonably nice ones, but nothing to write home about. Then, about 2 hours in, some American blow-in suffered a major brain-fart and dropped in on a 6'2" maori local and things got kind of entertaining.

Coincidentally, while they were discussing their differences, one of the larger sets of the morning reared its head out beyond the rocks. Nearly everyone was too far in, but not me. I paddled over and watched the first one wash through, clearing much of the lineup in the process. The second wave was good enough to distract our local friend from the murder he was about to commit, and he swung, dropped late and disappeared down the line, the lip copping a regular beating that would otherwise have been the fate of the idiot American. The offending American was still a bit shaken and obviously not interested in the third and biggest wave of the set - at least, that was my justification for paddling around him to the inside and setting my line for take off.

It was epic (by my standards at least). As with all good point breaks, the wave just kept walling up in front of me as it slingshotted me down the line. The first third of the wave was a slalom ride, dodging through the hodge-podge of longboarders, grommets and multinational van-lifers on the inside. Once I'd cleared the pack though, I was able to open up a bit and really put the new board through its paces. I've never been a great surfer on my backhand, but with section after section presenting themselves to me for the next 150m or so, I was able (again by my standards) to go to town. The board did everything I asked of it, only 50% better than expected, and on that one wave it proved itself to be a keeper. I can still picture each turn, each section and each terrified, envious glance as I wove my way through the duckdiving masses.

I went in after that ride, satisfied beyond expectation, and that was the last decent wave I got that whole trip. I was, and still am, ready to drop everything and move to NZ pretty much on the strength of that one wave.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 12:46pm

That was a good retelling . Felt like I was dodging people.

Shaped your own stick ,read the play to perfection, carved the fuck out of it .....mic drop.

Nice work.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 12:48pm

Rides of the year? A tough one for me. Not because I had so many I can't remember, but more that there weren't many of the peak moments that I've had over the last few years. There was a particularly long and slicing cutback under the cliffs at the far end of Ulus this year that I can still feel in my whole body if I think hard enough about it, right down to hearing my rail cut through the glass and feeling the shade of the cliff hit my skin as I got closer to it. Some late drops on my last day on the Bukit where I paddled into anything and everything trying to get my fill before flying back into winter in Tassie. But in terms of sheer joy it was probably my a wave on our points at home that wins.

I'd been out for 3 or 4 hours, mid-July, so I was cold to the bone and struggling to paddle with my hands that had gone into full claw mode. It was closer to 6pm than it was to 5pm, and so there was barely a hint of light left, just shades of grey and a dash of streak in the corner of the sky. Myself and two others left out there, in a cold delirium of scoring quiet head high points. On my way back to the take off spot a wide one took me off guard and I swung around and used my last bit of energy to get into it, but very late. A crumbly half-barell from the take-off, but then 100m+ of pumping down the line as fast as I remember going on a surfboard. In that kind of darkness, with no wind and waves oily smooth, and being half blind anyway, I could hardly make out the top of the wave, let alone what was coming down the line. Completely surreal feeling, racing faster and faster down the line, hearing the lip crack behind me but visually it looked like I was just pumping through air. I was laughing hysterically by the end of it and ended up wearing my wetsuit the 20 minute drive back home because I was too cold and exhausted to pull my booties off.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 12:57pm

Missed Laurie Towner and Mark Healey on that list.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 6:02pm

Tru dat

spenda's picture
spenda's picture
spenda commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 1:15pm

Loved the stories above.

Wave of the year for me was nothing like the above but till one I won't forget. After a few years in semi-hibernation from surfing due to injury and illness my wife booked a trip to fiji with 4 weeks notice. I spent 4 weeks trying to get fit but didn't come close. Fast forward 4 weeks later to empty early morning cloudbreak, devil cross wind, few people out, choppy face adding to the challenge. I was on my $150 gumtree special, black beauty (very brown) 6' 3", way undergunned as I severely misjudged how big and choppy it was when I jumped off the boat. By chance a big set comes , the guy in position pulls back, next in line is me. Gulp. I swing around, paddle my arse off on what is considerably larger than the largest wave I'd ever had a crack at, at least in terms of how hard it was drawing off the reef. Heart in my mouth. Get to my feet, straigh away come unstuck on the side chop then straight down the mineshaft. I remember the heads watching, the lip throwing overhead, the coral in vivid view, all as I free fell. Through a solid rinse cycle, wash in over the reef, with a long paddle back out. No bottom turn, no barrel, no long ride on a long clean face.

I'm 46 years old, and after a few years of injury and illness I thought my best days were well behind me, but that one moment made me think that maybe they aren't. Maybe I can't surf that well, but maybe I can still swing around and have a crack when it counts. Push my limits and surprise myself a little. Or a lot in the above case. That brief moment relit the fire and since coming back I have been more excited about surfing than ever before in my life.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 1:31pm

Epic mate! It's nice to surprise yourself by committing to a big one, and strangely sometimes getting a major flogging is a bloody fantastic thing. Only a surfer knows the feeling applies to more than just riding waves haha.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 6:06pm

Awesome spenda you mad dog, at least you had a crack.
Get back there and stick the drop and get shacked off ya melon. Hopefully that’s stoked the fire

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Monday, 21 Jan 2019 at 5:46pm

Hats off to you spenda. Well done on giving it a real crack!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 1:28pm

Blowin's Gunther gun from the story above (great colour):

spenda's picture
spenda's picture
spenda commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 1:36pm

I want that board.
And I want that back yard.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 6:09pm

Nice GR shooter
interior use of brick pavers is different.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 6:29pm

Cool - temperature, not Fonzie , low maintenance.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 7:53pm

And laid on a 45... fancy

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 2:56pm

Wax job is questionable..

I have a thing for small nipples :)

I am the bone

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 3:44pm

Oh , mate , Don’t start me.

I recently went on a surf trip with a fella who was a small nipples guy. A board couldn’t be pulled out of a cover without a vicious debate on the merits of small nippled perfection vs the just get ‘er done mindless rush jobs that I favour.

He even removed a perfect wax job in order to demonstrate the correct application technique I should adhere to. Base coat ( cool water ) then mid coat ( warm ) then final coat ( tropical ) . Always circular, never up and down. Don’t press too hard , let the wax do the work.

Strange thing being , this fella lives every other avenue of his life with a total who gives a fuck , c’est la vie attitude .

Anyway , that wax job is a Blowin trademark. You know it’s for real when i go full wanker and talk third person.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Saturday, 19 Jan 2019 at 10:01am

Haha. Each too their own skinning that cat. Ill agree with the small nipple fella on the said size of nipples but I’ll wax straight lines rail too rail first then perpendicular straight lines from that. Green Sex Wax gets it done for the majority of the for me too.

Actually could be a interesting side topic on the forums “How you wax your board.”

I am the bone

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Saturday, 19 Jan 2019 at 10:17am

Ben started a 'show us your wax job' thread last year.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 1:31pm

Geez you’re quick , legend

JJD's picture
JJD's picture
JJD commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 2:02pm

Griffin's 10? Parko's snapper barrel? Nias? Other than that those are the best clips of the year. I think.

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 2:32pm

Great stories, lads. Getting me amped up to hit the road.

DanCB's picture
DanCB's picture
DanCB commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 2:52pm

Wave of the year for me pales in comparison to all of yours, both in terms of location and ability, but I was up on the Mid North Coast over Xmas and New year. There were constant strong NE winds, which made for generally crappy waves and very cold water temps. Thankfully, there's a pretty good place near where we stay that generally works reasonably well in those conditions, so managed to surf 2-3 ft waves everyday - although they were generally fairly small wind waves.

Having said that though, Boxing Day was bloody tops. I checked out the front of my in-laws' place and thought about just taking the longboard out as it looked pretty small and messy. Thankfully I decided to go for a drive with my shortboard. I ended up surfing at this afore-mentioned spot. Here you generally surf on the north side in south swells and the south side in north swells, as the respective swells wrap around a rocky outcrop. Checked it at 6.30 that morning and both the north and south sides of the rocks were really messy, but directly out the front appeared pretty nice - a combination of NE and SE swells that peaked really nicely right there at the rock. The combination of swells created quite a powerful 4-5 ft wave - I've felt similar power from long-period swells when I was down at Phillip Island a number of years ago. I think it was a combination of it being Boxing Day, so most people were hung over, and the fact that each side of the rock looked really crap, but I had it completely to myself for an hour.

The take off had a lovely big wall that you could do a few big, carving turns on, and then I would generate a bit of speed and tuck down into a barrel. I didn't make it out of a single one.

I got out after an hour, and by the time I was out of my wettie and changed to drive back to the in-laws' there were 10 guys on it.

Back at work now and am constantly picturing the morning sun filtering through that wave, the feeling of the board while carving that face and the view as I tucked into those little sandy barrels...

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 3:21pm

Sounds fricken unreal

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 3:26pm

Best wave of the year? Late last month, I had a tripartite glide at Warilla that was great fun. From the top of the rockwall to the bridge, about 100 metres, riding a 10 foot SUP on a 2 foot wave with 3 of us aboard. Even got corny GoPo footy of it

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 4:55pm

If only we could get all SUP riders to share the one board we’d be laughing.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 3:33pm

the trandem.

I used to get both my kids on a big SUP and surf with them in the river.

good times.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 3:35pm

Best wave of the year for me...
Somewhere between Sydney & Brisbane, around easter, on a trip with some non-surfing friends. Light offshore, head-high-and-a-half swell. Checked the nearby "big-name" break, but it was so crowded that even if you did get a wave, riding it would just be an exercise in traffic control. Headed down to a nearby backbeach with the non-surfers, down a dirt track into the national park. Didn't really expect to surf, but threw a board in the car just in case.

There was a slopey right hander down the southern end, no-one out. Worth a paddle, but nothing to write home about. Noticed that the dam on the creek just behind the beach was open - its normally closed (and was closed the previous day).

First couple of waves were OK, and it seemed that each one was a little steeper, a little longer. Seemed the sandbar was getting longer and shallower by the minute - maybe the work of the dam.

And then.

Drop. Bottom turn. Stand tall. Sand dunes and eucaplyt forest on a deserted beach, framed by crystal water. Time stops.

Kicked out a ways down the beach, and slowly paddled back agains the current to the takeoff spot. 12 guys out by the time I got there - where did they come from? Got one more wave and went in for a nap on the beach.

The next week, snapped a ligament in my ankle clean through. Was out of the water until November. That wave stayed with me a long time.

MartinNow's picture
MartinNow's picture
MartinNow commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 4:27pm

Definitely add Laurie's paddle in at Cloudbreak.

MartinNow

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 4:45pm

Best wave and most magical session of the year.

Up the coast at a secluded beach which when the sand fills into the right spots absolutely fires. Right wedgey take-offs running down a point like setup into the beach.

We checked it through the morning on the high tide and it looked so so, so we smashed out work in the local town and then checked it mid-afternoon. Low tide and absolutely pumping 4-6ft. My mate made it out first and after coming up from a duck dive the first thing I see is him do a big beautiful down carve and then pull into a perfect 5ft barrel and then straight out. Game on!

The next two hours were shared with just one or two other locals, but the one wave I remember was taking on a big heavy 6ft+ wedging entry which was putting my hi-performance twinny on the edge of it's control. Made the drop with tons and tons of speed to then draw out one of the biggest and smoothest wrapping down carves back into the pocket to then bottom turn into the next section and do it again. I can't remember if I pulled in at the end section.. as was the go, but those two turns I can still feel.

Next morning was as beautiful as you could imagine. Dark drizzly low cloud, broken by golden sunlight poking through at times, lighting up the ocean fluorescent green. The colours in the water and glistening wet rocks surrounded by bush was almost too much. One electric wave so bright and green I could hardy see the face. Special times.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 5:02pm

I think I know where you’re referring to.

Nice stretch of coast.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 5:57pm

Yep, very.

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 5:31pm

WOW & i just got a WOODY!!

Mr mick

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 4:57pm

Great stories above, thanks guys, best surf for me wasn't special surf wise but it was the whale that rolled past at close quarters waving its pectoral fin at me. Pretty darn special that was.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 5:05pm

You realise that’s how they give the finger , right ?

Jokes....never seen a whale that didn’t make me happy. People pay shitloads to get ignored by them and you’re getting the royal treatment. Lucky bugger.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 6:37pm

Nice work ...

Basil's picture
Basil's picture
Basil commented Thursday, 7 Feb 2019 at 10:16am

I had the same experience GS, pretty amazing, I've never seen an orca live before, let alone been in the water with one.

You won't get that in a wave pool!

Basil

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Thursday, 17 Jan 2019 at 7:24pm

Perfect sunny blue sky, perfect clear blue water and perfect 6ft Frigates with only 3 other guys out for 6 hours straight. Couldn't believe it. Rather than a wave, I think having that to myself for a while when the other 3 lads got lunch was pretty magical. There'd be hundreds out on a day like that at home.

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 8:12am

what about that drone footage on the rainy day at huge uluwatu a few weeks before the fire at blue point. reported it was a russian fella or something. that was insane.

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 1:47pm

Wave of the year - well more wave and situation for me. Just bought myself a 10 acre block of beach front - waves out the front and around the corner. This day was super small but just me in the water on a McTavish 66 triple stringer, surfed for hours just gliding and having fun :))

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 1:30pm
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 4:13pm

Very nice GR, Blowin.

And great to hear your stories.

Can't decide on my Wave of the Year, which could either mean that I had heaps of memorable ones, or that none stood out. Anyhoo, it's between these:

- 8ft Impossibles on the Webster DS. So easy, and so perfect. Aesthetically pleasing, with the afternoon sun backlighting the high barrel.
- Big solo day at my local, also on the DS. Grunty and fast.
- 8ft screamer at the Secret Left. Heavy solo day. Lots of waves left alone for good reason, but this one ran all the way, and was a heart in your throat type beast. 6'6 Bourton Reef Swallow.
- Perfect 4ft Bingin barrel on my Byrning Spears. Perfect board at a perfect wave, and I didn't screw it up. Uncrowded to boot.
- 3ft barrel at my local beachie. Easy takeoff, fade right, do a lazy s turn, then backdoor the cleanest barrel. Very rare for this place, and it felt perfect. 6'1 Webster Bad Brains.

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 6:11pm

Wave of year, 2 years ago paddle out at Snapper with 3-5 ft, 2hrs after low,sand in all the right spots. Sit to the left of the rocks, lined up with the yellow dunnies on the hill, waiting for the wider ones or when someone blows it [ not very often]. Few have come & gone, 20 mins on & nothing, but wait here we go, an empty 4ftr, swing & paddle, no one on the inside, sweeeeet, but wait on the outside FUCKNUCKLE doing the hard paddle towards me, me thinks he's gonna have a go, FUCKNUCKLE paddles in close grabs my leggie pulls hard, i go off balance totally unexpected, & he takes the wave. F%#k'n C#&T!!! Take up position again, 5 minutes here we go, sets roll in a touch bigger & catches most off guard, paddle hard to the left over the top of the first 2 steep ones & lo & behold the 3rd is vacant with my name on it. I fain to the left, with an outgoing paddler screaming GO GO, just enough to catch & jump to the feet, make the steepish drop, bottom turn come up mid wave, stall in the barrel not hugely deep, sit for couple seconds re-emerge bottom turn again for 2nd time barrel, re-emerge, bottom turn again for 3rd time barrel come out, down the line is going to shut down so kick out with grin from ear to ear. My first 3 barrel wave at 56 yrs young, gotta have patience, it'll come!! Can still picture it like it was yesterday & vivid memories of the colour, the lip throwing out, others paddling out looking in, & hoping one of those was FUCKNUCKLE!!

Mr mick

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 7:53pm

3 way tie between a shared family wave with son at one of the name breaks here at about head high riding together, drifting right into a 1st wave takeoff-of-the-day with a sick bottom turn in the bowl, big carve on the face then down the line as crew were scrambling to dive under it (one smiled), and a very clean day at our local reef watching son burst fins out the back of the wave on top turns.

For the clip: Navarro at Cloudbreak, Skeleton Bay wave, (not featured: the Russian at Ulus) - well, I think I might be transitioning to a goofy in 2019 haha

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 7:59pm

Thanks for taking the time to write your stories , gents.

Very enjoyable. Sounds like some fun was had.

Montygoesbananas's picture
Montygoesbananas's picture
Montygoesbananas commented Friday, 18 Jan 2019 at 9:25pm

Best wave of the year wasn’t mine, pushed my 8 year old daughter onto a proper 2 foot peeler at crescent on her foamie not sure if I had just pushed her over the falls but she made the drop and rode it for a good 50m and paddled back with the biggest smile on her face and I knew she was hooked for life.

adam12's picture
adam12's picture
adam12 commented Sunday, 20 Jan 2019 at 11:10pm

A few years back I caught a wave and my brother dropped in on me, and a bit further down the line my mother, body surfing, dropped in on him. She's gone now. If I could ever ride a wave again, that would be the one.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Monday, 21 Jan 2019 at 10:53am

Very special - thanks for sharing.

Irukandji kiss's picture
Irukandji kiss's picture
Irukandji kiss commented Monday, 21 Jan 2019 at 2:57pm

Far out, what a memory that must be.

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 commented Monday, 21 Jan 2019 at 10:06am

Best session in a loooooong while. Boxing Day 2018. Tas West Coast spot that needs the fair weather and small swell surf gods to shine. Not a breath of wind for 2 days and 6 feet at 14 seconds non stop. Four 3 hour sessions in 2 days. Took a week for the ageing body to recover!!!