There's a rat up the Ship's stern

Mick Lawrence
Swellnet Dispatch

In 1994, Tasmanian surf pioneer Mick Lawrence organised the first reconaissance mission into Shipstern Bluff. Here he recalls that trip, and the fallout that followed from the discovery of one of the world's great waves, when the promise of treasure brought out the best and worst in people.

For some the treasure was financial, while for others, including Andrew Campbell - who Lawrence calls the Edmund Hilary of Shipsterns - the wave offered an experience that transcended material wealth.

Dr Max Banks was head of the geology faculty at the University of Tasmania and I had contacted him in early 1994 to find out more about the origins of a spot I had visited several days before. As a reference, I produced a piece of pertrified wood that had been prised off a rock. I had gone there to survey it as a location for a television commerical I had been commissioned to make for a local financial institution. The brief for the commerical was to promote them as a worthy place to invest and the concept was to show a rock-solid location under siege from overpowering elements.

The Tasman Peninsula was one area that immediately came to mind. The coastline was predominantly sheer cliffs that were regularly bombarded by massive Southern Ocean swells and it was close by. All I had to do was find the perfect spot in terms of camera access and then wait for the elements to fall into pace.

Holding the piece of wood in his hands, Dr Banks took me back a mere blink in geological time and painted a picture of a large mountain and there, on a lower ledge, huge sand dunes had formed. They were on the bank of a large river that sliced through a broad plain and wound its way around Cape Raoul, where it entered the ocean via a waterfall east of Tasman Island. Near the end of that geolgical blink, the ocean rose and swallowed the river valley and the sand dunes were compressed to rock. Horizontal bedding now formed a reef at the base of a sheer cliff, a cliff by the name of Shipstern Bluff, the potential filming location.

I knew a guy called Johnno Rhodes who owned a property on the peninsula at a place called Stormlea and he knew the rugged coastline like the back of his hand, so I gave him a call. Once I gave him a rundown of what I was looking for he assured me he knew the perfect spot only a one-hour walk from his property. He offered to show me whenever I wanted.

Several weeks later a major swell arrived with a north-east wind - a rare combination, but perfect conditions to check Johnno's spot. His local residence was just up the road at at a place called Richardson's Beach. When I arrived he was babbling about how it would be perfect there and from his dining room window you could see why. Out in front of his house four foot waves were winding down the rocky point known as Inside, Inside Mays. The only reason they weren't smothered by hordes of frantic surfers was the onshore wind. Onshore here, but dead offshore at Johnno's penisnula spot. Our timing was impeccable. It was going to be all time he claimed and we headed off bursting with anticipation.

There were four of us in the car. Also along for the ride were a Kiwi surfing mate, David Guiney, and his brother, visiting from Wellington on holidays. David and I were close mates who had shared many surfing adventures in Indonesia and New Zealand, as well as here, where he had lived for some ten years. Although he had surfed the regular spots on the pensinula, our destination today was new territory for us all and though we may not have been going surfing, it sure felt like it.

Johnno's property was typical Tassie bush: massive forest, steep terrain and absolutely stunning views. The walk from his retreat to the coast took about an hour and followed a very basic road down the steep ridgelines until we reached a narrow coastal plain. The swell at Tunnel Bay was solid and wide apart, a true groundswell and the biggest since last winter. Waves were erupting off the short rock shelf and thundering into rock escarpements in spectacular form; and this was in a bay well protected from the direct assault of the ocean. We stood at the base of the steep hill that seperated us from our destination, adrenalin coursing through our veins in anticipation of the unknown, and we charged up the hill like kids heading to the beach for the very first time.

The top of the last hill led to a plateu that ran south towards the base of Mt Raoul, and off to the distance we coul see Cape Raoul with a huge swell exploding up the cliffs at regular intervals. Bathed in perspiration and amped to the max we covered the final kilometre in a sprint. At the edge of the cliff Johnno pointed out the local features and we stood in awe of the spectacular surroundings. As a local you often tend to become blasé about the sheer magnitude of the beauty in our homeland. This spot, however, allowed no such complacency. You would have to be brain dead to not be impressed by it.

Stretched out before us lay a natural aquatic ampitheatre, a bay sweeping from the bluff to our right and out to the cape, and towering overhead Mt Raoul dropping almost into the sheer bay. Halfway across the bay was a left-hand reef with waves whose size was impossible to guess since we had no scale. The sets were breaking well out to sea before smashing into the sheer cliff face and David and I started to babble as we began to assess whether the reef was surfable. Johnno brought us back to reality by heading off into the scrub shouting, "That's not it, the real wave is this way!"

We scrambled down the cliff face through the coastal scrub, then wound our way along the scree at the base of the cliff towering above us as thick, powerful, swell lines borne thousands of kilometres away charged down the shoreline heading for their final demise. We rounded the last kink in the shoreline and there it was - our very first sight of the place that would become known as Shipstern Bluff.

I've been back to Shipsterns many, many times since, but have never seen a swell to match that particular day. How big was it? Who knows? All I know is that it was massive, terrifying, and simply awesome. At the time I didnt even consider it a surf spot, probably because I was there for a different reason - to do my job. As far as I was concerned once my crew had woven their magic, the commercial was bound to be a big success. After almost two decades of producing films I knew a winner when I saw one. Before we left that day I hacked out a piece of petrified wood I found embedded in the cliff. I wanted to find out more about this place and thought my find would provide a key.

It was a long, slow walk back that day. Basking in the glow of discovery I was not in any particular hurry and I wanted to linger in the aura that the place had progressively wrapped around me throughout the day; besides my mate David was finding it hard going on his ankle.

A few years earlier, the physics of a speeding Honda Prelude meeting a stationary brick wall in Sandy Bay had left David with a badly shattered ankle and despite a frighteningly dogged determination, he had found to his utter disgust that reality had forced upon him a lifestyle change, whether he liked it or not. The accident was a turning point in his life and, although he was in a state of denial, as a close mate I sensed that underneath his cover it was eating away like a cancer. It was for this reason that I found David's endless conversation on that walk out somewhat confusing.

While my head was full of elation by discovering the perfect film location, David was babbling about the potential for Shipsterns to be a world-class surf spot. Not only was he going to conquer it, he was going to turn it into a money-making machine with one beneficiary in mind - himself. From my point of view I found his speculation misdirected. For a goofyfoot nearing forty with a busted ankle I wouldn't have thought the wave was ridable. As to making money out of it, I considered the idea repulsive. I had strong thoughts about the collision of surfing and business and, like the Honda and the brick wall, the results to date had a lot to answer for. David's outlook on money had always been different and although it had never troubled me before on this occassion I began to smell a rat!

We shot the commerical on the next big swell and although it was not as big as on that reccy trip, on the screen it exceeded the client's expectations and generated a lot of interest as to where this stunning place with such massive waves was. Having anticipated this, I had taken the precaution of reversing the waves shot in the edit, making it a Pipeline-like left, not the Waimea-like right it was.

Time moved on, as did the relationship between David and me as we drifted in different directions. In his case he became obsessed with Shipsterns and began to recruit whoever he could in order to convince them that the place was a legitimate surf spot. Slowly tales began to rumble on the grapevine about a new big wave spot that David had been surfing on his own for ten years. He even approached the state government to finance a world professional invitational event, but it never made first base.

It was via a surf movie by Justin Gane that the place became public knowledge. It featured a local surfer, Andrew Campbell, pulling into a huge wave called Fluffytonka. A media frenzy erupted with surf magazines, television crews, and the daily tabloids all clammering to discover where this place really was. The wreckage that followed was the biggest thing to hit Tasmania since the arrival of the malibu and the local debate became more physical than just angry words. In the charge to claim ownership of the place, punches were thrown, tyres slashed, lawsuits threatened, and relationships fractured.

The usually peaceful surf community was ripped apart as the claims and counterclaims bordered on utter madness. On one side David claimed he had been surfing it for years on his own - shattered ankle and all. It was his alone and he would determine who could and could not surf it. On the other side were young guys who simply wanted to give it a crack and found a rampaging Kiwi only too willing to crack their skulls if they even dared. In between was Andrew Campbell who had been surfing there countless times with David and couldn't understand what the fuss was about. All he wanted to do was share the wave with anyone who wanted to surf it. In all the times he had been there, he said, he had never seen David catch a wave.

Like all storms, this one passed and when things settled down, Shipsterns in particular and Tasmania in general became the focus of world attention that is still current. The only difference is that a new breed now controls the lineup. A breed who were but young kids floundering about in the shorebreak when the whole thing blew up. They proved me wrong, the place is certainly surfable and I sit back and watch them with awe and the level of respect they certainly deserve. If I was fifty years younger I may well be out there with them, but I'm glad I'm not.

It's interesting to listen to what the kids think about the history of the place. They just take it for granted, like all surf spots. They don't dwell on how it was discovered and who was or wasn't the first to surf it. Although some of the older crew know and fully respect Andrew Campbell, the younger ones dont know him or couldn't give a toss. They are more interested in right now, not back then.

// MICK LAWRENCE
Excerpt taken from 'Surfing On The Inside: Reflections of a Silver Grommet', published by 40South
All article photos by Craig Brokensha

Comments

jamespeach's picture
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jamespeach commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 12:41pm

Really interesting read! The idea of bush walking in and seeing it for the first time is priceless

Ted from the moon's picture
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Ted from the moon commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 3:10pm

Great read......I have often read about the history of this place and talked to many Tassie surfers about it over the years. But there can surely only be one real story of what actually happened.

Various versions of this story exist.....

Credit for first surfing the wave is often given to Tasmanian Andy Campbell who is said to have first surfed Shiptern Bluff in 1997. However, Matt Griggs’ superb book Surfers interviews Tasmanian David Guiney who paddled out with Mark Jackson for the first time in 1986. According to Guiney, he surfed the place for years by himself before turning Campbell onto the place. In 2001

https://surfingmadonnashipsternbluff.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/shipstern-...

David Guiney was a New Zealand surfer who first laid claim to surfing Shipstern Bluff circa 2000, but the first man who really brought it into the limelight and dominated Shipstern was Andy Campbell, who now lives in Bali.

https://www.redbull.com/au-en/The-Secrets-of-Shipstern-Bluff

Tasmania's newest cover star continues to get the big glossy treatment whenever a swell rolls in. For Guiney, there's a sadness about that. "At least the signs are still shitty," he says as we walk through the bush past a small wooden sign with an arrow to Shipstern.

It's a long way from those lonely days of 1986, and while he has said he wishes he'd never taken anyone to Shipstern, he's resigned to the world knowing about it. "In the mid-1980s, my age group had banned cameras," he says. "It was, 'This is me on some desolate island' and then two years later it's a surf destination. The camera was the enemy of the surfer. Now it's the tool because it makes them money. Shipstern has become a corporate money-maker. Next time Shipstern breaks, there will be 50 surfers and their sponsors waiting."

https://www.theage.com.au/technology/conquering-the-beast-20060709-ge2oe...

The place has had some intriguing brushes with fame. It almost went public as early as 1991, when Australia's ex-kingpin of pro surfing, Graham Cassidy, visited Tasmania's capital city Hobart with Mark Richards, trying to encourage the local tourism authorities to get involved in a WQS event. Cassidy met with local surfer Dave Warbank, who told him about the spot.

That contest idea fell through; but five years later, when Cassidy was planning an ASP Champion of Champions event with sports promotors CSI, he called Warbank and went on a survey mission. "We checked it out twice, but only saw it once when there was a taste of what it could be like," says Cassidy. "We went out in boats and surveyed the whole site and went, 'Oh God, this is incredible'... Nobody was surfing. I remember Dave saying hardly anyone knew about it. It's pretty haunting stuff. The rock is so chunky and sharp, you start thinking about the possibility of something going wrong out there."

In 1996, Cassidy organized (and paid for) the whole apparatus of a major event -- accommodation, boats, everything -- but pulled the pin early next year when CSI's deal with the ASP went sour. "The event was scheduled for late February. Dave called me later and told me it'd been ten feet for the whole four days. (Nick Carroll 2001)!

http://my.buoyweather.com/mag/pulse/2001/sep/09_10_price.cfm

Originally, this giant wave was known as “Devil’s Point” and was first surfed in 1986 by David Guiney, who related the experience to Surfer magazine: “I had heard about the wave at a guy who had a piece of land in the vicinity and, at first, I thought the wave was not surfable. But, I went one day with my boat and I looked at it from the rocks and I thought: ‘OK, it looks like a wave’. It was about 3 or 4 meters high when I first surfed it, but I did not know its actual size until I caught a wave and paddled back.”

Its interesting how this version and the one above from The Age differ so much - money making / cameras / timelines.

I like the Mick L version.

crg's picture
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crg commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 2:52pm

All this debate and conjecture about the history of one surf spot...makes you wonder about the history of the world...?

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

teanorris's picture
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teanorris commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 4:03pm

History changes in accordance with the story teller

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 2:40pm

"History is written by the victors"

or

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting" ?

Both?

I dunno.

Ask Lieutenant James Cook, say?

markno's picture
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markno commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 2:55pm

I walked into Tunnel Bay with a board way before 1994. But when I got to Tunnel Bay I was to stuffed to walk up Shipsterns as I was carrying in my diving gear as well.When I got back out the farmer said guys did surf down there. I heard later that Mark Jackson use to surf it by himself. That was in the 1980's

Patrick's picture
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Patrick commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 3:38pm

A lot of names have been mentioned in this thread, but when I was surfing there in the seventies I don't remember seeing anyone else in the water.

teanorris's picture
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teanorris commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 4:05pm

You were in nappies when I was surfing it Patrick

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daisy duke kaha... commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 4:20pm

Pfft....Shippies hasn't broken properly since the big storm of '67 when Toothless Terry and I paddled from Bruny Island to crack a few. I had the right to myself while Tez tackled the infamous Shippies left, but we had to leave after four hours because it was the middle of winter and Tez was skinning it - left his footy jumper at home. Silly bastard. Stopped surfing it in the 70s when a young parrot called Patrick turned up and thought he owned the joint. Started surfing Pedra Branca which was a real mission to paddle to and even harder if you lost your board and had to swim back to Hobart. This was before legropes of course, not that I've ever worn one.

Patrick's picture
Patrick's picture
Patrick commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 6:34pm

Yeah righto guys, whatever.
I'm the only one that's done a carving 360 out there.

lostdoggy's picture
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lostdoggy commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 6:43pm

Was the Justin Gane clip before or after the photos came out in Tracks with Drew Courtney, KP, can't remember the others?
I think the cover said 'Australia's heaviest wave'.

Jamyardy's picture
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Jamyardy commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 11:38pm

Don't know dates of the Tracks pics, Ganey first filmed it in May 2000, with Margo, Rasta, and Baron Van Dieman (Campbell)

lostdoggy's picture
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lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 7:03am

Found it. Was 2001.
That's when I first heard about it. Think it was on the cover of tracks and ASL. https://seandavey.com/flashback-to-2001-and-kieren-perrow-at-shipsterns/

timcosh's picture
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timcosh commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 8:22pm

Andrew Campbell Surfed it without ski's. That alone is enough to draw respect. Surfing it without cameras or a scene around is Hardcore. Something which can't really happen into todays surf culture. Some thing special.

Young crew will always surpass todays standards. But they haven't got that original core element of the unknown. Most tap into social media to find spots instead of doing their own exploration. In this a pure part of surfing is lost. Discovery and the journey is easier now. In a way you could say that Cameras and fame are now the game.

Andy Campbell was paddling isolated cold water waves alone before the hype. That in itself is pretty wild. Who wouldn't respect that if they had every walked close to his method of surfing.

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Clam commented Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 10:52pm

Cool that

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sharkman commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 3:38am

Did a trip there in the early 2000's with RCJ , for Red Bull Dave G was paid to take us there , Andy C came out and tried to paddle but there were some big ones which looked unpaddleable.....DG I think made up all his surfing stories , as when I quizzed him on what did the wave get like when it was bigger .." it gets easier , actually at 20' the take off is really easy" at the end of the day there was a huge set maybe 15" , I was sitting on the SKI and watched the mutant steps boils every part of the wave lit up into a horrible Gnarly beast , looked unpaddleable , but maybe towable , but the rest is history , and we all now love watching the boys navigate the steps , barrels and how to survive going over the falls....pure entertainment ,respect!

x

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ojackojacko commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 6:00am

i think it might’ve been on the occ cast - rasta talks about walking in and stashing a board in the bush there which he reckons might still be there. he made no claims about being the first or anything like that but worth a listen

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Ganey commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 8:25am

I wish I had got to tell the tale and release the documentary "The Stern Age" that I was working on down in Tasmania for many years (2000 -2006). Unfortunately my life was almost cut short through medical malpractice and I spent the best part 0f 2006 hospitalised and a few years of rehabilitation. I absolutely loved Tasmania and it's people. It reminded me much of where I grew up on the far South Coast of NSW... the solitude, the bushwalking and the laidback approach of its people.
I first filmed Shippies in May 2000, after much deliberation from Andrew as he was struggling whether he should let the cat out of the bag or not. But for Andrew he really wanted to share the wave with others, and for him it wasn't all about the wave, it was the whole experience - the preparation of equipment and backpack, checking from the pillars, the bushwalk in, setting up on the rocks in a safe place, etc.
He was, as Mick Lawrence said, "the Sir Edmund Hilary" of Shipstern.
So in 2000 Andrew decided we were going in. He felt happy with the company of Rasta & Margo and we got it pretty good... 10-12ft nice light offshore. Rasta completely backdooring a solid one straight up which blew all our minds, AC to this point had never seen anyone else surf it properly and had never seen himself surf it either. That wave of Rasta's changed everything for AC and that was the start of him going mental out there for years.
The four of us came up with a plan to conceal the wave for along as possible as we knew on the release of the footage there would be a barrage of questions. So we named the wave Fluffytonka. Fluffy was sarcasm and Tonka because of its size, and decided it's location would be known as West Oz, for now. Thats wasn't going to fool anyone in Tasmania in the know, but if we named it Shipstern it would have been found in minutes by the surf media and everyone else.
So in October 2000 I released my annual surf movie, this one titled Pulse 2001, with a 6 minute ender of the Shipstern session, and the barrage began.
Somehow we managed to conceal it's identity for almost a year. I know the surf mags weren't happy, but by winter of 2001 another local had given up it's identity and taken TRACKS magazine in with Mark Mathews, Drew Courtney & Kieren Perrow and as they say, the rest is HISTORY!!! After this it was an onslaught, it spiralled out of control and Shipstern was now the new poster boy of the surfing world.
AC's dream was to share this wave with like minded people, experience the drive out to the Tasman Peninsula, do the 2 hours walk in, sometimes 3, with a surf check at the pillars. He really wanted other surfers to experience Shipstern the way he had. He dreamt of future Tasmanain surfers to be able to make some sort of living by surfing just this wave, he kind of knew it wasnt going to be be a money maker for him and it was never his quest, he really just loved adventure and was really into preservation. But the preservation of the wave became impossible as the hordes flocked to surf the wave and many at the beginning were bypassing Campbell and going by boat. Back in those days we always walked in amd were hoping for others to join in, instead of fly in get ya shots and fly home. The real best thing about Tasmania is it people and of course the nature.
I have only been into Shippies once by boat but have walked in probably 40 times and to me the only way to experience it, but im sure if your going too really surf it the boats the way to go saving 5 hours of walking. Still the whole beautiful experience is still etched in my mind.
The Shipstern GOLD RUSH created this pop out experience, sort of package deal that i could only liken back then to a helicopter ride to the summit of everest, get your pic on top of the world and then head home. It was heartbreaking to watch and Andy really wanted to share the experience with surfers wanting that experience, but now they were bypassing the true pioneer of the wave. We didnt surf it much that next year and watched a bunch of sessions from the pillars.
Looking back none of that matters now, to see the camaraderie of the true Tassy waterman, the local hellmen that rule the domain would make AC so proud, his dreams did come true and those boys are not getting bypassed. They are the gatekeepers of the waves and all a top bunch of lads taking the sport to lofty extremes.
Tasmania should be super proud of these boys. I sure am. They came on some of our first missions, I have most of their first sessions out there, they kept the fires lit for us when we came in and now look at them, they are like GODS, respect!!

Want to thank all the locals that for their hospitality, interviews, ect over the years and am dissapointed i never got to finish my story on Tasmanian surfing and the history of Shipstern to that point, maybe i still could, maybe its irrelevant now? Either way i look forward to watching to local boys surf and evolve out there and sure there are plenty more new young crew that will take it to new heights.

Ted from the moon's picture
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Ted from the moon commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 9:41am

Thanks for your insight Ganey - great read. I think you should finish your story - history should be told and preserved - and with the passing of time comes an even greater opportunity for reflection. I lived in Tassie for a while and absolutely loved it. Some lovely humans down there, cold water and epic adventures. I love going back to visit. That whole coastline down there around Cape Raoul is one of the best walks in Australia.

Good luck with your medical situation. Hope you can still paddle out and snag a few good ones.

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Ganey commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 9:57am

Thanks Ted, yes starting to think i should, spent so much time and money on it, it would be a shame, Andy many of the locals and pioneers of it all gave there time to it as well. The doco was always about the preservation of Shipsterns, but geez it was such a tightrope, exposing something and trying to preserve it at the same time was a struggle, but i always just went with AC's wishes. Be an interesting story now that is close to 20 years old

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stunet commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 11:12am

Second that Ganey, but also keeping in mind it's a hell of an undertaking.

A thought:

Lots of people write or document the history of surf spots - we do it here at Swellnet regularly. About ten years back Michael Kew wrote an article in The Surfers Journal about the history of Palikir Pass at Pohnpei, however rather than a straight retelling, Kew focussed on how P'Pass went from a whisper on the travelling surfer's grapevine to a full blown surf spot with camps. It's a good tale and has lots of parallels. I mean, we've seen this happen often, from Nias, the Ments, Chopes etc etc...but few people have drilled down into the dynamics of it: how the word spread, why people were willing to broadcast it to the world, and why others weren't.

The above idea may not grab you, however you're in a unique position having early footage and access to those guys. Plus Shippies is already exposed, the genie cant be put back in the bottle, so there's no concern about blowing cover on it anymore.

Could also serve as a parable for future secret spots. How to keep them on the lowdown.

jayet-010's picture
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jayet-010 commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 3:11pm

Would love to hear the stories of discovery and the early days from all my favourite waves (south and west coast WA).

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jayet-010 commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 3:13pm

Also waiting for you to release a collection of your most popular articles in print Stu!

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Goofy4 commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 11:28am

Good read

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E Wing Fighter Pilot commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:01pm

I remember watching the footage after those first trips at Andys place in the Estate, it was mind blowing, no one had seen anything like it. I remember not long after on another trip Ringa sleeping on the floor in my bedroom and going down with Dean Morrison and a few other boys. Deano was shitting himself and put his hood on back to front when he was paddling out. I remember photos from the late 90's of no one out with 20ft sets rolling through and a shark feed frenzy preventing the boys paddling out. I remember walking in with the Abberton Brothers for a Waves mag shoot and it was huge and onshore. I've never surfed the wave but my childhood was littered with memories and stories from my brother and Andy surfing the place as the next generation and myself hung onto every word they said.

One thing that was sad about the Red Bull event was the lack of history and respect to the wave by the commentary team, i know a lot of the original guys to surf the place couldn't make it, but having Cote, Wassel and Albee commentating with no attachment and history to the place was the wrong call. Imagine having three Aussies commentate the DaHui Backdoor Shootout, it would never happen. They missed an opportunity to tell some amazing stories from the past 20+ years down at Shippies.

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indo-dreaming commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 8:44am

Interesting to read and good to see Andy getting some recognition for helping pioneer this wave, he lived just up the street from me for a while so hung out and surfed with him a bit in the 90s was always good to see him and another great surfer from Tassie Simon Mcshane push each other.

Andy lives in Bali these days (10+ years) im sure he still charges but judging by his FB seems he is more into his photography/film making that focuses more on fashion, culture than surfing.

Hopefully he will post here and share a story or two.

belly's picture
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belly commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 8:55am

Great article. Doesn't Mick Lawrence feature in the first print Mark Warren surfing atlas? Sitting on a hill watching perfect point grinders with a caption to the effect of "Tasmanian surf pioneer Mick Lawrence".

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belly commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 7:23am

Nope it wasn't, it was a fella called Sean Davey

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HIC commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 10:04am

Great article from ML. Growing up surfing Southern Tas beaches in the 80s and 90s, I knew AC through friends and would see him in the water often - always charging. I specifically recall sitting in the line up with him around the mid-90s (or possibly earlier), at a beach break on the Tasman Peninsula, when he told me about this really heavy world-class wave around the corner. I have no doubt he felt safe telling me, as he would have know that it was beyond my capabilities. Anyway, it was known on the underground that he and another guy (also a Mick?) surfed it whenever it was on. I am not saying that he was the first to surf it, as I have no idea - but he was definitely a pioneer. Just wanting to help get the timelines right. For Red Bull to say, during the comp the other day, that it was first surfed in the early 2000s is crap. I understand that AC copped a lot of flak, quite unfairly, when those photos came out in around 2001. This may have been the catalyst for him deciding to make Bali his home. Nice guy. Saw some photos of him charging big Ulu's a couple of years back.

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Ganey commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 10:25am

Yeah it was surfed way before 2000, more around mid 90's, Andy was surfing it for a few years before i went in with him, but as Andy said he was surfing it calculated and for good reason, usually by himself with no safety back-up you would sure be dead if something bad went down. Dont think it was properly surfed until that day in May 2000, mainly with Rasta's first wave from real deep, then the boys charged that day and took some brutal wipeouts. Andy always thought it would be certain death with a wipeout or if you straightened out but the learnt that day that you would jst miss the rocks and that opened a can of worms for AC. He never wanted to make money from the wave, he just wanted to share it and was hopeful for future generations which i turn has come to fruituion. The stuff he tries to do the following 2 years with lead on tow boards and so forth was groundbreaking. He is the soul pioneer of that waves, there were other before but to have surfed it properly i believe he was the first.

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Tasjez commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 11:36am

I used to surf with AC on the Peninsula a fair bit in the early to mid 90's and he used to talk about this wave, I thought it was prior to 97 that he was surfing it? Pretty sure the other guy was Mick Scurr.

HIC's picture
HIC's picture
HIC commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 11:41am

Mick Scurr - that's him.

barry-banchong's picture
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barry-banchong commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 3:11pm

I should make a comment but i'm not sure what 2 write after what i have read.In the comments Michael scurr

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 3:25pm

Some important questions need to be answered, like:

Which nickname do you prefer, Whiskers or Barry Banchong?

And, what year did you start surfing the Stern?

Then any other historical matters of interest...we're all ears.

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 11:47am

If his nickname isn't Whisker then his friends need to take a long hard look at themselves.

spencie's picture
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spencie commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 4:19pm

Great article Mick.

easterly

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thermalben commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 4:23pm

What a fantastic collection of stories this is becoming.

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Elliedog's picture
Elliedog commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 6:02pm

I spent some time with Andy C in Indo around this time...95 I think. Had a great mullet. Great bloke. He kept telling me to get down there to surf. Still haven't been....not that I want anything to do with this wave but I wish I had of taken his offer up.....One day!!!!

Luba

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frog's picture
frog commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 7:51pm

Well I saw a photo of it small clean and sunny close up on the end section around 1994 to 1995 taken by a non surfer with land in the area. I could not tell if it was short, long or perfect. I asked about it and he said it was being surfed but a mate of his reckoned it was one of the heaviest waves in the world, Sounded known but underground back then. I had heard rumours of some new open ocean wave being surfed somewhere in southern Tassie well before then. Shortly after I spotted a shot of it from the cliffs in a small but popular bushwalking guide book.

Frogg

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 8:22pm

The great surfing novel is in there somewhere.

Laurie McGinness

HIC's picture
HIC's picture
HIC commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 8:53pm

Unfortunately, those that really know the story have gone to ground. Not sure that the DG version can be believed. What we can be relatively sure of is that it was surfed from the mid-90s. Michael Scurr? It's been more than 20 years and it has been well and truly opened to the masses. What stories to tell?

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 9:12pm

The good thing about fiction is that it only needs to be true to human behaviour. The facts become flexible, the characters blend and morph. It's the drama that counts.

Laurie McGinness

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billie's picture
billie commented Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 9:42pm

Thanks for that Ganey. Awesome!

Billie

garyg1412's picture
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garyg1412 commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 7:49am

Wonder where the Fluffytonka quip came from.

Ganey's picture
Ganey's picture
Ganey commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 8:03am

Was to hide Shipstern's location after i released the first footage if it in 2000, Fluffy past was being sarcastic as it's anything but fluffy and Tonka because of it's BIG size

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garyg1412 commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 11:06am

Classic. I remember seeing the article somewhere in the print media and the pictures and thinking who the f%$k would give a spot like that such a dumbarse name - makes sense now. Next time I saw footage it was being called Shipsterns so figured they found a better name for it.

turk's picture
turk's picture
turk commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 11:10am

Used to be called 'Boat-back Mountain' before it was called Ship-sterns Bluff' just a coupla guys surfed it. Alone. In cowboy hats.

Cool Stories. Make the doco Dave!

E Wing Fighter Pilot's picture
E Wing Fighter Pilot's picture
E Wing Fighter Pilot commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:03pm

Doco is in the works already by someone else....

Goofy4's picture
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Goofy4 commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 11:28am

Andy did pave a path for many of the crew that have become synonymous with the wave - he mentored, encouraged them and is definitely afforded due respect. Andy, like some who followed, did make a financial benefit from the wave. The early iconic pic of him on a mutant deep blue beast selling a well known brew being a point in case.
Andy's encouragement, before he left Australia, enabled surfers like Marti, James, Ty and Brook to embark upon countless walk ins to the Stern point to paddle in. They were young, in Tyler's case around 16-17 years old, and their lives since have revolved around watching the charts for that window of opportunity. Subsequent to their first experiences of Shipstern around 15 years ago, they surfed, often for the first time, other slabs and reefs that get bigger and are possibly heavier that Shipstern. There has been some product and small sponsorship payments, which in no way financially recompense them for the time, injuries, lost work and career opportunities that they may otherwise have pursued. The photographers have undoubtedly had the best outcome financially.
Towing has made it possible to get into what was previously considered not possible but never let it be said that all of the Tasmanian lads that followed Andy did not cut their teeth paddling in - in fact, the understanding was that there would be no tow in allowed until a few paddle sessions had been achieved.
I've walked in a considerable number of times and small boated it a few to sit in the channel. I enjoyed watching from the water on Monday and one thing I'd take from that experience is that it was fairly reflective of the changes that have developed in communication, marketing and surfing over the past generation or two that are out of my control....I used to care but things have changed.

batfink's picture
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batfink commented Monday, 20 May 2019 at 11:37am

"I used to care, but things have changed"

:-) Dylanesque. Dylan in fact.

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Dutchy110240 commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 4:43pm

If you've ever called a wave, "a dag", you can thank Mick Scurrs mate, Nubeena carpark 1994......After calling my mate a sheep fker,for having hair like sheep dags. Great days.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 8:20am

Interesting that Red Bull finally ran the contest in what appears to be a "nothing out of the ordinary" swell. A swell that size would be "ho hum" to the locals and pretty common in autumn and winter. The weather maps on BOM showed nothing special I could see in the lead up except that it was likely to be offshore all day. The peak was Sunday and the day after was just a fading swell from a fast moving routine low.

Anyway, they got it done but it was a far cry from what could have been. Not easy to forecast 5 days out of course as so many lows fade rather than intensify as they move across the bight.

If they run it again they need to make calls 3 days out if that is possible logistically.

Frogg

Goofy4's picture
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Goofy4 commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 8:51am

It would be possibly possible logistically if there were no international participants...possibly...maybe not even then.....things do change rapidly and expected sessions can be cruelled the night before - we all know what is possible down there but lining up such an event as a live feed is always going to be hit and miss...

river's picture
river's picture
river commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 9:24am

From what i remember Andy , Jamie Chalis and Mick Scurr had the first real dig at it in the late 80s . Mick and guineapig were certainly sniffing around too and Rich Laver was a fearless early campainer who would go down and surf it by himself , I remember both Mick and Guinea trying to get me to come surf it with them . I asked them about it and was told , you need a ten foot gun and if you dont make the drop you will most probably be killed on the rocks . I remember commenting that they could fuckin have it and that i was quite happy surfing the other waves in the area that wouldnt kill me . I remember how amazed i was the first time i saw photos of Andy and Jamie surfing it on the mutant day , pretty sure jamie towed Andy into those mutant beasts and that they werent paddled into . My mate had secretly copied the first photos as Andy wouldnt let him have a copy and when we saw them we were like 'what the fuck is that? mutant shark island on steroids' Pretty amazing place , the shippies crew have obviously shown that the rocks arent that keen to kill you and that the most amazing beasts can be ridden out there . Shame the waves werent bigger in the contest ,hopefully the next one will be twice the size , the local lads are nuts and will charge anything . Heard a few wispers about Jacko , Joey and even Herman Tyson surfing it earlier but not sure if they did .

Dmason

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Clam commented Saturday, 18 May 2019 at 10:39pm

Why did Andy Campbell go live in Bali (2004 iirc) not long after riding the first mutant tow ins ?

Ps. Searched for footage of early shippies but found nothing.

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timcosh commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 8:43am

Possibly because he realised his beloved utopia was gone. And the simplistic rewards that come with with it where no longer the same. The bar had shifted and progress had taken over. A bit like loosing a great friend. Or selling up in a once pristine area. Or he wanted to evolve and chase a new direction in life. No two path ways are the same.

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Clam commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 11:27am

Doesn't make sense to leave just after opening up towing-in to huge shippies. And why would you go live in kuta bali if you love clean air and pristine environment etc...

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batfink commented Monday, 20 May 2019 at 11:42am

Wonderful stories and contributions from all.

Went to Tassie last year for the first time, mid winter. Not a surf trip, with the missus and another couple to do Mona, Bruny Islands and various walks. Was down that peninsula and did a few nature walks which were just outstanding. Re-defines the concept of RAW nature. I don't know how they used to live in Hobart back in the cold old days, you'd be chopping wood for the fire till sundown every day, but somehow they did. Amazing place.