Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania
Two hours outside of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, there exists a wave of unusual size and girth. Known as Shipstern Bluff, it's a deformed, fanged mutant of a wave. It's remote, shark-infested and breaks on a practically dry reef, making getting slammed to the bottom an ever-present threat. But for some inexplicable reason, surfers, like "Hell and High Water" star Ryan Hipwood, think it is actually fun to ride.
James Hollmer Cross
Proof that a wave can make a man, nobody in the surf world knew who James Hollmer Cross was until he started pulling into barrels like this at Shipstern Bluff. One of the most experienced surfers out there today, he makes these kind of situations look too easy. Calculated in his approach, he threads the line of life and limb like a surgeon.
Raoul Bay, Tamania
Perched out on the edge of the Tasman Peninsula, Raoul Bay endures the heaviest surf the southern Tasman Sea can throw at it. It also makes for a heck of a surf setup. The trail out to Shipstern Bluff is long and by no means easy, but for surfers of a certain ilk, it's well worth the effort.
Hit The Gas
There are some waves around the world where a surfer's ability to stall and park themselves in the tube is a virtue. In the case of Shipstern, it's best to not hide behind the curtain for too long. Give all the stairsteps and deformities in the wave's face and heaving lip, things can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Get in, enjoy the view, and get out.
Shipstern occasionally beckons to big-name surf stars. There's nobody bigger than Kelly Slater, and he finds the wave one of the most challenging ever. On a quick-strike mission to score this swell, the 11-time world champ unexpectedly showed up in the morning and got busy, much to the delight of local photographers.
Ninety-nine percent of the surfing population around the world would be stoked to pull into that little barrel at the bottom of the wave. Not guys like Jame McKeen. Little waves like that are mere speed bumps. Just the same, that's an interesting place to attempt a bottom turn.
Wait Your Turn
Timing sets for the paddle out is a must. Jump off the rocks while a set pours in, and you're bound to end up pinned back on the shelf. At this point you've come too far; there's no turning back, but patience is key.
Duck and Cover
Nobody said paddling out was going to be easy.
No Time Like The Present
Once you've picked your window and decided to paddle out, there's no turning back. It's a leap of faith into the sea for every surfer at Shipsterns.
James Hollmer Cross
In skateboarding they call this "clearing a gap." When surfing Shipstern, it's just pure survival. James Hollmer Cross looks to stick the landing and set up a lifesaving bottom turn as the beast bears down on him.
Laid Back and Blasted
Is this poor bloke really throwing a layback cutback under the lip here? No. It's just a case study of what happens when one is strapped into their board and the ocean turns inside out. To be sure, wipeouts like this hurt.
In the 10-plus years that people have been tempting fate at Shipstern Bluff, there have been plenty of serious injuries to keep medics busy. Miraculously, there haven't been any reported fatalities.
One From Above
Glassy with a seemingly tapered lip line, Shipstern looks a lot less scary from a seagull's point of view.
One Chop Over The Line
As an unidentified Shipstern regular is finding out, there's not much left to do in a situation like this except hope, pray and hold your breath.
Broken But Not Beat
A broken board or two is to be expected after a session at Shipstern. But as the old adage goes, better the board than the person. Given how bent people get there, some foam and fiberglass is a small price to pay. And besides, it makes for a good story on the hike back to the car.
Burn Baby Burn
A roaring fire, a few bottles of brew, and a wealth of horror stories to tell make for a proper end to an epic day of surfing in Tasmania.