Redbull Cape Fear

_SWP1729.jpg

What…

Cape Solander, Sydney. The biggest swell to hit Sydney in living memory, and the scene of the most extreme surfing contest in history, Redbull Cape Fear. We had the vision of shooting the infamous big wave surf spot under the cover of darkness with waterproofed studio strobes.


Who…

Steve as photographer and jetski driver, Adrian Emerton as lighting assistant in the AM & Nick Bannehr in the PM. Elinchrom lighting, Nikon cameras and Aquatech underwater housing and trigger systems.


How…

With Steves custom strobe system attached to the back of the jetski, we launched from Port Botany boatramp at 5.30am, in total darkness. The day prior, had seen the craziest waves ever ridden at Cape Solander with the contest postponed after several heats due to the risk of death or injury being unacceptably high. With every indication of the swell being of a similar strength, we approached with care. Upon arriving at the wave we saw first hand the danger competitors had flirted with the day prior, and spent an hour sitting as close as we could position the jetski to the wave shooting brilliant empties in awe of every wave. The contest continued as the sun rose, with Russ Bierke emerging victorious. Our plan to shoot an exclusive strobe lit session with Russ at the contest site that evening was foiled, by Russ’ own success against a stacked field of the best slab surfers in the world. As a worthy consolation prize, we went out for the afternoon and with not a soul in sight, watched the craziest waves we’ve ever seen in Sydney. The swell pulsed again beyond what we’d seen in the contest, and the ocean turned to sheet glass under a dead wind. We sat on the ski until it was too dark to see the huge swell lines approaching, before making a retreat to the harbour barely comprehending what we’d just seen. Normally on the jetski, the idle speed is about the same as a surfer paddling hard. That afternoon, there was so much water coming in from the east-northeast pushing into the cliff metres away, that we had to constantly throttle out to the north to avoid being sucked into the impact zone. To this day i’ve never seen anything quite like it on the east coast of Australia.