Photos: Vicco's one-two punch

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Victoria had two hump days last week, neither of which was in the middle of the week.

Last Monday, the first big and clean swell in months broke them out of an enforced torpor, then four days later another swell - slightly bigger though not as clean - made for no uncertainty that the seasons have turned.

The product of a deep low southwest of Tasmania, the swell was in fact two significant swells - one tracking near 19 seconds when it made landfall, the other about 14 seconds - which when combined made for a more consistent mix than usual.

Also noteworthy was Torquay shaper Shyama Buttonshaw who broke his jaw in a few places and required assistance while floating beyond the Bells/Winki lineups. The first photo below shows Adam Robertson in the foreground cutting back with Shyama behind him on the nose of his 9'4" self-shaped glider.

Once again, photographer Steve Arklay roamed the Surf Coast foreshore shooting every wave that mattered.

All photos by Steve.

Comments

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 9:12am

Great shots and happy to have got my share! Don't agree with 'Last Monday, the first big and clean swell in months' though. The previous week saw big, clean surf too.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 10:54am

That paddle out looks masochistic.

camos's picture
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camos Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 11:39am

I remember a day like that years ago, paddled out around the button, ducked 20 walls of whitewater, turned around to get bearings, didn't recognise the coast, caught a frothy one to shore, somewhere near bird rock and walked back an hour to my car.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 4:47pm

Holy moly!! That's some serious water movement. Hope you had ten bucks stashed in your wettie for the fish and chip shop on the way back...or the pub ;-)

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:42am

An old trick was to stick a 50 cent piece in the the leg rope, and call a mate for a lift back to Winki from the public phone at Jan Juc shops.

bluediamond's picture
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bluediamond Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:45am

haha! gold VL

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:54pm

If you were proper old school bluediamond it was only 20c.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:49pm

Haha. And now there's probably not even a phone box there.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:58pm

What about the free couple of seconds you’d get when you called without money?
Might take a couple of calls to get ya message across.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:02pm

Yes indeed Vic Local! Ha..ha, 50cents was a small fortune back then!

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 11:50am

Adam Robo's cutback is *****

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 2:48pm

One of Robbos waves with cuttys in here @ 56 sec Absolutely Flying

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Thursday, 29 Apr 2021 at 5:15am

The man can surf!

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 1:59pm

Imagine if they'd been able to run a CT contest in this.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:08am

Why when 'Narra' and 'Newy' were so surfable and provided such an unbelievable showcase of surfing? Still annoys me how they pump it up so much when the waves were rubbish and the surfers were great as they always are.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 2:05pm

Pumpkin!

Lovely off the bottom second from last.

Ben Harding's picture
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Ben Harding Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 5:36pm

+1

That and the cutty up top, ace. Fantastic shots. Post cards.

sheep shagger's picture
sheep shagger's picture
sheep shagger Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 4:55pm

Kudos lads that hit it Friday... spoke with one on these hell men today in the Bells line up... top bloke... yellow board, bald head and I'm guessing balls like planets... apparently did the paddle from Point Addis to get into Bells. That's setting the standard!!!!

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 5:15pm

What! That’s about a 3 k paddle

anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 6:26pm

Oh man and way out to sea to avoid jarosites too.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 9:34pm

Was it that big you couldn't paddle out JS or Sth Side....or West side of JS?? That's a very very very long paddle.

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 9:42pm

Well, I guess it's be a dry hair paddle out pretty much.

Also better than wearing walls of white water on the head before the inevitable encounter with the button.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 10:15pm

Mad respect for the effort, that's for sure. Where there's a will, there's a way ;-)

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:02am

If it's 10-12ft plus the paddle out from Addis is still going to make your hair very wet indeed. Must be a paddle machine to get thru that, paddle to Bells and still have the arms to cop an inevitable few 10 footers on the noggin.

Hatty65's picture
Hatty65's picture
Hatty65 Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 11:54pm

I know the bloke he’s a local legend only comes down from his farm when it’s 10 ft plus drives s blue uti and where a cowboy hat and rips on big waves

sheep shagger's picture
sheep shagger's picture
sheep shagger Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 5:40pm

Hardcore I know Goofyfoot. An hour and a half he reckoned... Bells local chap... confirmed deed... and my new hero.

sunbird's picture
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sunbird Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 6:14pm

Thanks Steve Arklay for the awesome pics.

nicko74's picture
nicko74's picture
nicko74 Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 6:47pm

That first shot with the bloke on the red board setting his line looks to me like DH
??

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:23pm

What about the poor soul whose board is going over the falls in the broken wave section about 10-15 metres inside of him in that incredible pic nicko74!?
Some one much younger that can actually see pointed it out to me. God Bless you and them

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 4:02pm

Still can’t see it, but there may be a pair of legs upside down about 30+ metres in from him.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 7:44pm
groovie's picture
groovie's picture
groovie Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 7:53pm

Solid as & looks cold too! Some beautiful surfing captured mate! Thanks Steve it gives a true depiction of the power of mother nature & the surfers enjoying the ride & adrenaline rush you only get from surfing clean solid swells.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 8:19pm

Far out, Addis to Bells! Getting caught inside en route doesn't bear thinking about!
Legendary.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 8:42pm

Now that was some serious chewing gum for the eyes. Great to see good big wave shots without 15 jetskis in the frame.

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 8:52pm

That's pretty big. Thanks Steve and Stu. Is that as big as it gets there while still being surfable. I was under the impression bells only ever gets to about 12ft and that's really rare apparently. Can someone verify?

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Sunday, 25 Apr 2021 at 9:36pm

'81

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 Saturday, 1 May 2021 at 1:21pm

holy fuck

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:41am

Nearly exactly 40 years ago this week (give or take), I was Blessed to be there very early Saturday morning Easter 1981.
Turned left from Bells Bvd into main Bells cliff side road and as we got to the old (still there?) concrete white wave on the left hand side of the road we glimpsed through the patchy fog what looked like a wave cresting and endless straight lines of swell as far as we could see. I think the term is "corduroy lines to the horizon". Nah...we thought we were seeing things.
Continued into the Bells carpark and parked about halfway from the bottom, on the surf side. There was a very eerie still vibe (apart from the occasional loud boom-crash oceanside) zero wind. In the carpark various competitors were going from car to car asking all occupants and bystanders if they had any longer boards. I had a 6'10" Springer (Stringer? Anglesea custom) single fin that I should have given to some one, but selfishly kept for me to surf on that day.
We walked to the cliff edge and behold: clean mountainous waves. As the mist cleared and the direct offshore started to puff slightly there was not a drop of water out of place, glassy and thunderous when they broke and most waves broke almost perfectly (for Bells) in a straight line because apparently the reef much further out than usual was angled and tapered flawlessly for such the hugest of swells at that particular angle.
Claw over the P.A. announcing with concern and trepidation, "competitors you have an extra 30 minutes to paddle out before the hooter goes to start your heat".
In an early heat MR was undergunned and scratching into the set waves. Missed a couple. Can't remember if he won or lost. Big fan and wanting to see him carve on his twinny.
We were mesmerised by the shear size and power. We got onto the almost empty beach and found a nice spot, about one third up the cliff ( so we could see over the waves in the for ground) nearer to Winki, to set up the tripod and super 8 movie camera. As far as I can remember some competitors didn't show for their heat. No one was saying anything negative against them as everyone understood what was really going on....'discretion the better part of valour" perhaps. A few competitors actually didn't even make it out the back/take off zone which was sooooo far out to sea and way inside the point at Rincon. The sweep from right to left (looking out to sea) was so fast. I forget who it was but when they went out of sight trying to get out, beyond the button at Winki, everyone was very concerned for their well being. Ooos and Aaahhs were heard throughout the growing numbers of onlookers.
We found out later some guys apparently could not exit the water until they hit Jan Juc.
I think it was high tide very early but with the massive amounts of water constantly hitting the beach it was hard to tell. The best ride I caught on film was Terry Richardson (goofy) pumping big arcs and high lining through the bowl and as he got closer to the button at Winki he through his arms up in resignation, screaming down the face as it began to close out in front of him and behind him. He got absolutely detonated but to every one's exclamations some how he eventually washed up on the sand like a drenched rag doll.
Some said it was 20ft faces that morning. I don't know, maybe, probably. With my background I measure waves literally from crest to trough as if I had an actual honest tape measure, after all we surf the front of waves.
I know on you tube you can see Simon Anderson carving later that day with the sun out and news choppers hovering to catch the spectacle, on the borrowed new 6'6" (blue fade deck) thruster phenomenon he had made for local Steve Robo weeks earlier.
It wasn't Hawaii, but everyone, competitors, officials, locals etc were all using superlatives to describe what we were seeing, and most were referencing Oahu North shore.
Some said it was 12ft "Hawaiian"and very much like surfing Waiamea (sorry spelling not my strong suit). Others said that it was 18-20ft+ faces. Bobby Owens(? fair haired North Shore local) did well.
I think if you search enough you'll be able to find some pics and rare video to judge for yourself.
A few years back I was able to buy the DVD "All time Bells" which focuses on that very day. Claw Warbrick coined that phrase on that morning.
My crazy mates and I paddled out that day at the corner of Point Addis before lunch time, just so we could say that we did! Ha, ha, we got absolutely smashed, never got out to the take off zone? (no one else out) and got washed into the bay there with dinged boards and our tails between our legs, so happy to have survived the ordeal! The consistency was relentless and the white water walls were enormous. Duck diving and doing backward somersaults holding onto the board under the first white water was a new and terrifying experience. Every wave after that was simply praying that the leg rope held!
Every one who paddled out at Bells for the contest and paddled for or caught at least one wave that morning was heroic, courageous(a little bit crazy?) and skilled beyond belief.
So much respect!
No jet ski assist, no board caddies! Never forget it.
God Bless

tango's picture
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tango Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:09am

Great stuff, Servant.

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:15am

That’s a cracking read, Servant. Thanks for the post.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:49am

I bet there were a few 'oh my Gawds' that day.

Cool story and God bless you too.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:30pm

Oh yes zenagain, my friend, and every other 4 letter word too!
Thank you

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:17am

Yeah, I went to Merimbula for a surfing holiday to get out of town and it was flat.

bluediamond's picture
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bluediamond Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:44am

What a cracking read. Thanks for sharing Servant. So good to read from someone who experienced that day. So sick!

hamishbro's picture
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hamishbro Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 9:43pm

Gold! Thanks servant. Ahh, those vicco walls of whitewater.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 10:39pm

Many thanks hamishbro, so glad you and others have liked it.
I'm very happy to share these old stories with fellow frothers, before I go home to be with The LORD, as there are no other surfers in my family....."Only a surfer knows the feeling". I have high hopes for my young Grandchildren, but I'll probably be long gone by the time they're old enough to understand.
By the way, I have a slight correction to one detail above in the '81 Bells story. Apparently Claw announced over the P.A. to the competitors that they had an extra 15 minutes to paddle out before their heat so they could get out the back. I said 30 minutes. Sorry everyone for my mistake. My super 8 movie film was picture only, no sound, and after 40 years my memory missed that detail.
God Bless you

Corsairman's picture
Corsairman's picture
Corsairman Friday, 30 Apr 2021 at 10:20am

Great read Servant.
Woke that same morning and tried my luck up at Kennet then decided on Cathedral.
Was lucky enough to get out the back on my second attempt. First attempt was a disaster to say the least. Young and crazy on a Mick Pearce 6'1" rounded pin single.
Roughly about 6 guys out. Michael Ho wishing me luck on his way in. Can remember Lynchy taking off a good 10 to 15 meters from inside us and smoking the set waves. Major memory of the horizon lifting and knowing theres like a dozen waves in the set. Mid set I'm having to start punching through the top and looking down the line after each one to see if Lynchy is making it through. One eventually got him as I watched him nearly break through on one which dragged him backwards over the falls. Actually gave us a farewell wave as he went over.
My terribly under gunned single felt like a needle. Caught maybe 6 or 7 waves but had trouble on the inside with a bit of wash with my last wave getting annihilated .
Job done then down to Bells to watch the show.

by the way, Red board boy in the pics is another Portsea boy Tom Bodycomb . well done Tommy.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Friday, 30 Apr 2021 at 8:28pm

Thanks Corsairman,
well done getting out at Cathedral that day. Must have been scary if M.Ho was wishing you luck and WL getting smashed. Can you believe that was 40 years ago?!
Yep Tom B got photo of the day on that red board.
God Bless you both

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:18am

Painting a picture there Servo. Still got your film from the super8?

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:04pm

Yes Standingleft, thank-you to you and all those replying.
I dust it off from time to time to relive the experience. Very amateur but great to have.
Later that same day the swell size eased just a little. Late arvo I filmed some epic free surfing by many of the pros and my idol (back then) Wayne Lynch giving everyone a lesson, especially a 17 year old Barton Lynch who dared to drop in on him! On that wave BL was flopping around on the shoulder while WL was hooking under the lip with a back hand reo of a 15ft face. Also got Shaun Tompson getting perhaps the longest, maybe biggest barrel on the outside middle bowl. He went for ages, fully disappeared, then re appeared only to be shut down by the incoming section.
God Bless you all too

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:06pm

Epic read Mr Servant. Someone was looking over you when you were cartwheeling those duck dives :)

All I can add to the story is I was a tiny kid and lost my shoe in the mud in the corner at Bells sometime in '81. No amount of parental help could find it. The shoe is probably fossilised now. Cried my eyes out when I found the catfish in the aquariums at the Airey's Pub burned down with the pub in '83.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:40pm

Thank you velocityjohnno. Yes, indeed He was looking over me and many others that crazy day. Sorry to hear of your lost shoe and yes that was a sad day too.
Imagine in the future when some one digs that up and the look on their face..."what the...?!" God bless you

gilbert's picture
gilbert's picture
gilbert Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:12pm

I've been wondering - how does one paddle out at bells/winki once it gets solid?

The only time I've ever tried I started in the far west corner of bells, lots of duckdiving, looking behind me to see the cliff whizzing past at a rate of knots.. only to finally end up having a near death experience at the button as a closeout set came reaming down on me. I remember looking back and seeing the button about 7ft below me as I punched through one thinking if I wear one of these on the head I'll be on it for sure. Lucky for me I just scraped under 4 or so bombs and was so rattled that by the time I got out the back of bells (20mins later) I caught one wave in and went home. Good times!

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:04pm

On Friday, I started my paddle out at the base of the stairs because it looked like there was a big break in the sets. The current was so strong I turned back after a minute or two to reassess.
Next attempt was from in front of centre side cliffs with two others. One bloke was about 10m behind us and he got hit by a little one, then another and then another. He didn't make it out while myself and the other guy got out reasonably easily.
It's always the little ones that get you. They drain your strength and stifle any momentum. Poor bugger was just in aerated water the entire time.

Dx3's picture
Dx3's picture
Dx3 Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:16pm

Respect for getting out and amongst it VL - hope you got some good ones. Can comfortably say I will never paddle out on a day like that, just aint good enough.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 1:58pm

Well played Vic Local! (your John Goodman pic's a ripper).
Your two paddle out spots were exactly those from which all the pros launched on Big Saturday '81, and yes they too got the same results. Lessons were learned quickly by onlooking next competitors. Part of the spectacle was watching the paddle outs. We all sat there 'on the edge of our seats' when it looked like a bit of a lull, anticipating the carnage that inevitably came. No-one got out without paying heavily. Perhaps Maurice Cole (if you are out there Sir) could clarify the details of the period and direction of that day's swell. My memory is hazy on those particulars. Was it something like 20/22 second period and 225deg? It sure was relentless.
Hope that poor fellow who got his face badly banged up is ok?
God Bless you both

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:14pm

Shayma is doing ok and sent out a message via social media after surgery. He was in a bad way in the water but was well looked after.
The highlight of my surf was watching a mate get an absolute monster. I was paddling back out after a medium sized wave and this guy got the absolute set of the day. I saw the whole thing from the shoulder and it is without doubt the biggest wave I've seen ridden at Bells. I've seen a low res photo of it and it's 5 times overhead easy. Robbo is on the wave in front and it's "tiny" compared to the set of the day. That gives you an indication of how much bigger this wave was compared to the rest of them. Would post the photo but it's from a pro-photographer and I'm not going to breach copyright.
This was just before Shayma got hurt and the charger then went out and sat with the injured surfer for an hour. What a legend.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:44pm

Who’s the photog? Were you in the water when Shyama got injured?

Vic Local's picture
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Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 3:03pm

Photographer is a guy called Damien and I'm trying to buy the full res image.
I was in the water and paddled in to make sure Marine Rescue had been notified. Came in via Winki and arrived at the takeoff zone just as another massive set arrived. Luckily I had to pass on a situation update/rescue plan to the guys at Winki and had an excuse not to paddle into it!! Soon after a ski arrived from Jarosite. It would have been a really uncomfortable trip back.
As an after thought, I think surfers need to develop a range of signals for this type of situation rather than rely on verbal communication. Surf Life Saving Australia have a standard set of hand signals for rescues but they are useless when the waves are breaking so far out. Might have to have a chat with Surfing Vic. Skiers, water-skiers, divers etc all have standardised signalling.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 4:55pm

Would love to see that pic of the monster Vic Local if you can get it and very happy to chip in for the cost. Let me know please if/how I can help. Many thanks.
My JanJuc local mate (surfer and surgeon) told me that the long ride back from rescue was to Fishos?, which would have been horrendous in that much pain, clinging to consciousness on the back of a ski being jostled around.
The "not waving, drowning" overhead, full side to side, one extended arm signal is the best I've heard of so far. Universally it means HELP.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:39pm

Im trying to work out which guy you were VL, I paddled over to the injured guy when it first happened then when I saw 3 or 4 people with him I turned around and headed back out. If I figure it out I'll say gday next time

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:50pm

GF, I got a long one at Bells and noticed there was only 2 people with the patient. I thought that might be a problem if things started to go pear shaped so paddled over to see if they needed extra help. I then went in to relay the evac plan to 000 and make sure Marine Services had been called. GF, I've been enjoying the footage and still photos. Lots of great waves by southpaw surfers. Hope you got a few of those and didn't get pumped by any cleanup sets.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:02pm

Hmmm very elusive..
got a few and also got a few poundings. Having to bail under one of the biggest waves I've ever seen in person with the lip landing on my head got the blood pumping a bit. Wasn't my best day but still had a ball

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:16pm

On the D.S. Goofy ?

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:22pm

No I borrowed my bro's 8'0" Mick Pierce

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:17pm

Vic was the one on the lime green boogie board with his steamer on backwards.

Hard to miss.

willibutler's picture
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willibutler Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:43pm

I was the first one to grab him and help pull him out the back. None of us knew what to do next, so unfortunate the JetSki had just left before the incident because we had to make up the decision to paddle him back to cozy. At that point I thought my role was to catch a wave in and to make everyone aware. Was lucky in the end the group tow surfing Jarrosite came over to assist so they didn’t have to paddle the whole way to cozy

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 9:32pm

Hey willibutler. I did something similar and was kicking myself for not organising a signal for the guys in the water. They were unsure if a rescue boat had been called or launched and were just drifting. Letting them know a boat had been requested by waving my board at the button lookout would have been very helpful for the guys in the water.
I've done a fair bit of advanced first aid in wilderness regions and shit goes pear-shaped really quick. Paddling to cosy is a huge effort at the best of times. Doing it with a broken jaw in 10ft + surf wasn't an option and the guys correctly requested a pick up from Marine Rescue. Being able to scramble a jet ski would have to be a faster option.
Surfers are doing more and more rescues. Usually it's non-surfers getting rescued and Surfing Vic are running some pretty cool programs teaching board rescue techniques and CPR. Maybe we should get together and up the ante and start developing strategies for emergency situations in big surf.

bluediamond's picture
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bluediamond Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:07pm

Yup. Working in Fiji, waving the board from the lineup was the signal to up anchor and scoot in and pick up an injured surfer immediately. Different circumstances but shows there are ways to communicate efficiently.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 6:43am

Yeah board up and waving should be the universal signal I'd think.

anthony.olsen's picture
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anthony.olsen Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 7:21pm

How did the crew at Jarosites know that he needed help? Was it because you were sitting too far out?

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:27pm

There's alway mention of the Bells button. Scuse my ignorance but can anyone sum up for me what it is and why is it so dangerous?

zoddle's picture
zoddle's picture
zoddle Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:42pm

It's an outcrop of craggy rocks that divides the beach between bells and winki-pop. When its big, the larger waves close out right on top of it and the sweep drags you right towards it. If you get washed in by a big set, or ride the first wave of a set too far in, the button awaits your arrival.
In my experience, the main danger is if you're endeavoring paddling out. you'll just keep getting waves on the head that wash you right up on to it. Best bet is to cut your losses and belly ride the white water back to shore and start again.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:59pm

Cheers Zoddle, thanks for the reply.

Just to add, has anyone ever managed to connect through to Winki?

geek's picture
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geek Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 3:17pm

I vaguely remember in the 81 bells doco they talk about somebody doing it + it happened during the last big big swell a few years ago too. I’m sure somebody has a better memory than me though that can confirm

Roker's picture
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Roker Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 7:41pm

A mate, who loves and is very good at both surfing and rugby league, has always insisted that John Monie was the first to do it. 1965?

Stok's picture
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Stok Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:46pm

Can I just add the extra sketchy part about it is how water just seems to flow so randomly in that area. There's no clear rip to get out past the button, and the waves there don't push you back to shore as easily as you would hope.

So yeah, what Zoodle said but just an unpredictable, corner of the bay.

ShaneK's picture
ShaneK's picture
ShaneK Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 12:52pm

Shallow reef outcrop between Bells and Winki. On big days the west to east current can easily push you on to it and this is super dangerous. It is believed that John Pawson died paddling out due to it in the 1980's (I believe). Happy to be corrected.

crip's picture
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crip Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:23pm

Easter Saturday 1981. Big day. Huge. I haven't seen many bigger at Bells since then but I'm sure there have been some. That big raw swell in May 2019 was maybe only 3/4 the size of 81.

The late arvo sess on the Friday was big, maybe 6-8ft faces at Sparrows, but we knew it was going to get bigger, based on the weather maps during the week.

But when we rocked up in the pre-dawn mist at Winki, we couldn't tell the size thru the mist but knew it was big, the sound was different to any we'd heard there before. Too big for us (plus we'd be just getting leftovers with all the comp guys out) so we went back to our regular haunt at the time: Boobs/Steps/Sparrows. The paddle out from the pool at Boobs was epic, paddling for maybe 15 minutes - just as we thought we got out, another set thundered through. Managed to get out just down from Steps. Beautiful big smooth walls, only a handful out. They were easily double overhead on most sets, but some rogues were way bigger. We could see how big as they broke through Winki and the really big ones sent us scrambling for the horizon, but there was one that still broke way outside. We all just looked at each other, knowing what we were about to experience. Must have been 4x o/head and we all got put thru the full wash cycle. Mate's leggie snapped so was a long swim in for him. His board was bobbing around inside past the steps, undamaged.

A mate was out at Cathedrals when a clean up came through and when they all surfaced, he said that Wayne Lynch said to him "where'd that come from".

Our kahunas had shrunk after lunch so the arvo sess was a bit more tame - Torquay Pt! Actually wasn't too bad. Pity we didn't know some of the spots we found in later years, which were apparently quite nice that day and not the hellman conditions we had at Steps.

I read that one competitor that day, Gabe Callaghan I think, caught one through past the point of no return into Winki. He said he knew that would be the end of him for the heat but he couldn't just pull out there.

I also read that that was not the biggest Bells has been. Rod Brooks was seen on an outside reef at Bells on one that was estimated as a 25ft face - may have been in the 60's?.

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servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 2:35pm

Yes crip it is the stuff of legend.
All the 'older' guys there on Big Sat 18 April '81 were comparing that day's swell to "THE BIG ONE" in the 60's, which they said was probably a bit bigger - wow! A bit like the scene from Big Wednesday when Bear is saying something like..."this is the lemon before the pie".
God Bless you too

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bluediamond Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 3:27pm

Loving all these stories!!
My best surf here was on this day a few years ago.
https://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-dispatch/2016/07/15/green-and-gol... A little Judy Scanlon gallery. It was in that 8 plus size, with some pretty damn plus sets now and then.
I'd driven the length of the G.O road looking for waves and ended up back at Bells in the arvo. It was a freezing cold, middle of the week, winter day, howling NW and the swell had bumped up in the arvo. I took one look at Bells, saw no one was out, couldn't believe it, so grabbed a 7'6 out of the van and headed around base of the cliff..big surges coming up that were pretty sketchy. Got enough distance around and decided to wait for a big set, and paddle out as the first wave broke. Logic being, if i did that i'd time my trip through the impact zone as the set finished. It worked!! Except when i was in clear water, i looked back and i was nearly in front of the Winki button. Fark.
So head down and long paddle against the current for a good 20 minutes to get to outside of the bowl. It was quite surreal, watching those magnificent big swells rolling past in front of the bells cliff. The water was that classic dark green/brown Bells gets when it's at size...The sun had come out as well turning a dark gloomy day into a beautiful one.
I lucked into 3 big ones, the last one being especially memorable. There was one wave that came through that capped so far out, when i came over the wave in front of it it looked like a movie screen taking up the whole horizon. I did try to paddle for itt, spray in face, no real chance of getting on it....felt undergunned on the 7'6.
Wasn't as big as the day you guys scored but it was getting close, in that ball park.
I remember seeing crew coming down the stairs at Bells with their boards, and then turning around and walking back up not paddling out so it was solid.
I've always felt a pretty special connection to Bells, have spilt blood there, scored it epic..etc etc so it was a pretty pure moment and connection to score that day.
I came in and shot a few pics in the dying light after that surf. Snapped a couple of screamers running through the bowl, like wild rampaging horses, wind blowing off the back, top to bottom. Ahh Bells.
Super impressive effort to all the chargers who took it on the other day, VL...GF and crew. Yew!

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Jono Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 3:36pm

Happy to be proven wrong here, but the photos and footage from Friday look a similar size to photos I've seen of Bells Easter '81?

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servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 4:41pm

That may well be Jono?
The biggest set waves at first light and earliest heats on Big Sat '81 were outrageously big. The swell did ease slightly as the day went on. As far as I know most of the readily available pics and vids were shot when the sun came out mid-late morning and afternoon. Certainly Simon's heat where he's carving to bits and making history was then. The hour before dark, 'expression session' was just a bit smaller again.
Vic local's description above of the "absolute monster.....5 times overhead (x5.5) at least" is frightening! He was actually in the water near this 'thing'. By my reckoning if a surfer is in say a two thirds tall stance off the bottom, then that makes them say about 4.5 foot tall compared to the wave face?? Multiply that by 5.5 and viola 24.75ft!!??
That certainly sounds a lot like the bombs on the morning of April 18 1981.
Anyway I hope VL can get that pic and post it for us to see.
God Bless you too

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bluediamond Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 5:00pm

That's huge. Makes my 6-8ft day seem like a 2 foot kiddies corner!!! haha

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Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 5:20pm

The wave I've mentioned was definitely an outrider and much bigger than the rest of the sets. I would say most of the sets were 4 x overhead but this particular wave was next level and significantly bigger. There seemed to be a big pulse between 11am and 12. One landed just in front of me and I made the conscious decision to keep swimming down in the turbulence and then grab the leg rope and climb up it when the tumbling eased up. When I got to the surface I grabbed the board took a few strokes and then realised I was actually paddling towards the beach. Everything was very white at that stage. Ahhhhh Good times.

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sheep shagger Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 5:05pm

Vic Local... your surfers hand signalling idea is well worth following up. Perhaps a thread later.

And big respect for getting out there Friday.

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Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 5:37pm

I don't think hand signals are the way to go at all. Everyone was just too far out. I'm more thinking about board waving and reply signals from land.
eg specific signals for things like injured surfer unable to return to shore, injured surfer returning to shore requiring medical help, surfer with life threatening medical condition requiring immediate paramedic help. etc
The guys helping Shayma didn't know if the details of their evacuation plan had made it to shore and whether or not those plans had been activated. I think a call and reply arrangement would have helped in that situation.
I also have no idea why Torquay Marine Rescue has no public phone number. I called 000 and got the fire, police, or ambulance? I went with police because they seemed to be the most likely to launch a rescue vessel. I gave them the location reference number and told them it was 1km out to sea. The police helicopter flew over about 30 minutes later. It was pretty clear to me that surfers were the only ones to sort out this situation and lines of communication need to be improved. I believe Ringmaster did a major rescue a few years ago with a surfer with a dislocated hip. It was middle of winter and the cold water added another set of problems.
Probably need to sort this out, and that's not having a go at anyone doing the rescues.

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velocityjohnno Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 5:50pm

Maybe get entire lineup (apart from those directly helping first aid) to wave hand over head with clenched fist (like the lifesavers) - mobile phone reports emergency unspecified from shore - reply from shore to lineup (at Bells at least) could be multiple car-horn blasts with high beams flashed on the headlights/spotties? We can be sure on any big day a) people on shore would notice multiple fist waving and b) horns/lights could be seen from the water

Waterproof phone in back of wettie?

Just a thought.

Helped a dislocated shoulder out from Boobs takeoff once, it's a long way back but it's surprising how many others out have first aid skills.

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Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 6:01pm

VJ, I agree with some of your points but don't think spot specific signals are the way to go. Travelling surfers wouldn't know them so signalling probably needs to be universal. Car lights and horns wouldn't be good at places like 2 mile of Massacres.
Arm waving just signals that there's an emergency. Reckon something more specific would be a better idea. Arm waving is like old school emergency horns in country towns. People know something has happened but wouldn't have a clue about the details.
Having said all that, surfers are pretty good at rescues and first aid, especially when the chips are down.

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Vic Local Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 6:20pm

VJ, I like the idea of phones in waterproof cases. Imagine how easier things would have been if the tow crews at Jarosites had them? Shayma could have been on the back of a ski if 5 minutes. He was actually lucky it only took an hour. Those boys could have had a three hour session.

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shoredump Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 8:36am

It’s an excellent idea. Perhaps 1, 2 & 3 surfboards raised vertically out of the water side by side could each communicate something. (Just don’t make 3 the most important one as it takes longer and there might not be 3 spare boards)

I agree with surfers being great with first aid. I reckon 2 surfboards side by side up out of the water to communicate “call an ambulance now” as being an effective and simple solution

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Patrick Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 8:53am

One thing that might be worth considering is a signal that a lone injured surfer could use... would he or she, with no one else in the water near them, always be able to hold up a surfboard?

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shoredump Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 11:03am

For sure. But if the raised fist is deemed sometimes ineffective due to distance then there’s nothing left apart from get yourself in. The raised fist is still probably the best option considering it’s already being used. It just doesn’t stand out much does it. We don’t have lifeguards sitting in towers looking for trouble

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Sheep go to heaven Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 6:52pm

i remember a big day in '86 , I was at Ag college in Geelong and turned up to the car park at Bells - clean and lines to the horizon . i scrambled into my wetty and paddled out off Rincon . Somehow ( more good luck than good management ) got out the back of the bowl and it was seriously big . Only 2 or 3 out for a while as it was before the days of surf forecasting and must have been a surprise swell . Anyway i got a couple and could only describe it as snow skiing on a moving mountain !! I remember driving back through Torquay and the Rip Curl shop used to have a wave meter out the front . The old wave meter was sitting at 12 feet .

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vicbloke Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 3:54pm

I remember this day Sheep. Was in HS and about 16 years old. The old lady drove me and couple mates down after school if memory serves me correct. Surfed Haystacks at 6-8 feet and thought I was King Kong for a week. There was a guy in the water said he surfed Bells in the morning at said it 12 feet with a couple bigger rogues coming through.

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Standingleft Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 6:53pm

Epic thread. Vic, in an ernest attempt to keep us safe, will have us all out the back waving ourselves around like the Village People! Love it, I'm in. And He who Serves has his own private movie of WL under the lip at maxing Bells!
The temple of the Divine backhand?
I tried to get under the lip like that once at Bells, ended up on crutches

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servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:44pm

Thanks and FYI Standingleft, there's a great book I bought in 2011: "BELLS the beach, the surfers, the contest" by Michael Gordon, see pages spread 192 and 193 which is a perfect photo of Wayne Lynch, the Master, late arvo, that epic day doing that under the lip reo, (on another brand new Simon Anderson thruster), while the Padawan, BL is heading for the shoulder in a very poor fitting blue and green wetsuit (maybe even a Drysuit? it looks a bit weird)
Sorry I don't know how to post it here and also copyright laws would prohibit doing so.
The photo is by Peter Simons tagged as "two surfers named Lynch". If you're interested perhaps some digging could find it for you? Also if you're interested I've got some other nice stories about personal encounters with the legend WL. Hope you get some nice left handers soon.
God Bless

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goofyfoot Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:47pm

I'd be keen to hear some WL stories, he's a bit before my time but after hearing about some of his solo sessions down south in heavy surf I'm keen to know more.

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servant Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 11:34pm

Hey goofyfoot, happy to share with you. Sorry to all others to be bit off topic, but Wayne Lynch surfed the waves on Friday at Bells etc like no other. Read on please only if you're interested.
WL was and is one of those mysterious and charismatic surfers, with a gruff exterior but a very switched on and nice, direct bloke to chat with on land. His DVD "Unchartered Waters" is still readily available and a much watch for any WL fan or Goofy foot. The best story on that DVD is in the extras if I remember correctly, about him rescuing a guy at Castles from a massive Great white.
Of the few, my best WL story is the day me and 2 mates were surfing down south.
Early that day we realised no waves at Bells/Winki etc so we set off on the 'long and winding road' south. Back in the early 80's the road after Apollo Bay (Merango?) was still just a narrow winding, dirt road through the forest of huge majestic gums, tree ferns and bush. Barely 1.5 cars wide and blind turns that you had to crawl through just in case there was a logging truck coming the other way! Skids and drifts were a must for crazed surfers. Not that day, but yep I stacked my girl friend's car into another oncoming on that road/dirt track.
Anyway after emerging from the forest you then went along the country sealed road, up the hill until we hit the first surf visible from the road side: Castle Cove aka "Castles". By the way it hasn't ever been a secret because everyone who hits that coast stops there for the first look. I've surfed it with a crowd of 15-20 guys.
It was nice and clean, overhead and no one out...wooohooo. That day the left was breaking fairly well from about the centre of the cove. Out we went. If you have surfed there abouts you know that the power is much more than Bells region at the same size and with the incoming tide the sets were getting bigger. We were all focused on the horizon, bunched up together in 'our' take off zone. We then all saw a big set coming and promptly started paddling with much adrenalin to get over them. As we just made it over the first one we couldn't understand why we were all hit with huge spray, heaps more than the offshore breeze made.
We got over the next couple and started to then ask each other what was that?! A whale spouting? Weird! Then we all looked toward the beach and paddling back out towards us was WL, head down and ignoring us totally, as if we were not even there. He paddled close past us, respectfully on our outside, without a word or gesture, around us to way deeper than we were sitting.
He literally came out of no where, like some kind of stealthy surf ninja, took off way deep and showered us with his spray while we were scratching for safety. We didn't even see him initially paddle out or take off on that wave. We instantly recognised him and then resolved to sit back and watch the show from the shoulder. There was no way we could take of inside him and new that if we even thought about dropping in on him we were playing with fire.
He was extra-ordinary to see up close. What style and super skills.
Decades later I was chatting to him again and mentioned that day and others. He just smiled cheekily and said "oh you surfed at Castles did you?". Then he dropped his guard and we had a good laugh together of his various stories of going into hiding ( the secret 'hole') to avoid the Vietnam war conscription.
Top bloke, incredible goofy-foot surfer, West Coast Legend.
God Bless you and him especially now with his ageing health troubles

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hamishbro Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 10:06pm

Another slice of history! Better be archiving these stories Swellnet!

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Standingleft Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 1:04pm

Thanks for taking the time Servant. Gold. Mr Lynch keeps to himself it seems and I respect that, just admired his surfing in mags when I was a goofy grom in SEQld and eventually moved here. Bet there's some outstanding surfing on that movie of yours. Defo some great stories thx

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frog Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 7:01pm

What is the Cape Fear plan? I thought a huge swell and clean conditions was what they wanted.

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WarriSymbol Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 11:16pm

Anyone remember the day after Cheyne Horan won Bells on his winged fin board in '84?
That was solid.

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Island Bay Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 5:45am

A huge "Well Done!" to all of you who surfed; who helped or attempted to help Shyama; who even just made it out.

Thanks for all the stories.

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Robo Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 9:55am

Story and video of the accident on surfline.

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Lukas_Z Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 6:50pm

could u post link?

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batfink Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021 at 4:42pm

Great pics, stories good too. That cut back in pic 1, sublime.

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peabo Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 11:56am

Was a bit further down the coast on the Friday and some of the waves I saw hitting the swell magnet reef in the area were easily the biggest i've ever seen there. The point can hold up to about 8 foot and be rideable. On big swells, occasionally 10-12ft clean up sets will close out the channel. On Friday every set was closing out the channel.

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udo Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 12:38pm
goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 1:09pm

Holy shit

Dx3's picture
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Dx3 Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 1:17pm

That Winki shot is awesome. So big, yet so in control charging down the face of that thing.

Pretty sure that's one of the main real estate guys down the surf coast?

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Bnkref Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 1:35pm

Yeah it is Dx3. I don't know the guy at all apart from seeing in the water a bit at one of the reefs closer to Juc. Had no idea he was a charger.

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ringmaster Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 1:43pm

Gun real estate agent. Bona fide charger.

udo's picture
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udo Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 1:57pm

On a 9'0 Kirk Bierke.
The more times you magnify the pic better it looks we need to see the rest of ride.

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simba Thursday, 29 Apr 2021 at 6:42am

Awesome shot .....yes we need to see the rest of the wave......big wave....9ft board eh......so how big is that wave......

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Geenie Thursday, 29 Apr 2021 at 7:10am

Would love to know what the far west looked like on this swell.

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roc-k Thursday, 29 Apr 2021 at 12:32pm

Overhead

udo's picture
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udo Thursday, 29 Apr 2021 at 1:49pm

roc-k
Super 8s of Lagundri - any digitised ?

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udo Sunday, 2 May 2021 at 7:00am

Some wise words from Glen Casey

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Robwilliams Wednesday, 12 May 2021 at 9:07am

Eternal stoke, keep paddling, keep smiling

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velocityjohnno Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 9:14am

Here's a pic from 2009 of a wave about to close out Bells. My location for the pic was corner Bells Bvld and Bones Rd - since then I've hardly ever seen waves break when at the intersection, but this wave towered over all I've seen since. This thing was so big it feathered on an outer bombie (maybe the one that broke in the 1960s?) and then closed Bells out. It was easily double what had been in the water that day. Data point for taking it was 16 May 2009 9:46 am.

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bluediamond Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 10:00am

Good Lord!!!! :-O

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ringmaster Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 10:13am

So how was the paddle out VJ?

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velocityjohnno Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 8:25pm

Funny you mention it, there were a couple of souls that tried the paddle that day - not me however. Guys were lining up from Centreside to paddle out, and from memory I thought it was 10ft or so on the standard big sets. (Swellnet report of the day? might correct that)

I had a chat later with a guy who had just come out, and told him about the wave. Maybe it was one of you?

I've been out in swells where 50% bigger sets roll through and that seems within spec, but this was double...

Many thanks to Ben for posting up the pics, I can't do this - if anyone can go and zoom in on the first pic, taken with a wider perspective - go have a look right next to the Bells cliff. You will see the massive wave eat a set in front of it, and it appears to be coming in from a different, more south angle. Could this be a rogue??