While the eyes of the surfing world have been focused lately on big swells hitting Indonesia and the west coasts of North and South America, Australian chargers and their international brethren are getting ready for the debut of the Red Bull Cape Fear Challenge.
The mutant slab at Cape Solander near the entrance to Botany Bay in Sydney, called "Ours" by the Bra Boys group of locals from nearby Maroubra, is one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world because it breaks in only a couple feet of water right in front of large cliffs. The brainchild of Maroubra hell man, Mark Mathews, it presents a unique format that's 50 percent towing and 50 percent paddling. Held in a window sometime between now and the end of August, the contest will pit locals like himself and Koby Abberton one-on-one against the likes of Ian Walsh, Shane Dorian, Bruce Irons, Makua Rothman and Dave Rastovich.
ESPN caught up with Walsh to find out more about the event. Walsh has made a name for himself paddling and towing into giant waves at Jaws and Teahupo'o, but he's never surfed Ours, so X Games Surfing asked him what he thinks the wave has in store for him when he gets the 48-hour call that the contest is on.
X Games: How did you hear about this event?
Ian Walsh: Through Mark Mathews when he was starting to brainstorm about the project.
What made you want to be a part of it?
I loved the different concept to competing in the water and being that wave is super close to shore, Ours is one of the only waves on the planet that can really have a stadium feel like a big football game would. It will be really cool to feel the energy from everyone on the rocks.
Who came up with the format?
This is the brainhild of Mark Mathews and it is inspiring to have an event of this level come straight from one of the athletes.
Have you surfed Ours before?
Haven't had a surf yet, so I'm a blank canvas trying to absorb everything about the wave I can from all the vids online. I have been to check the wave once, so I have a really good idea of the layout of the lineup but I'm sure that will all change once the sets start stacking up.
What are the ideal conditions to run the event in?
Big, clean, barreling
Do you think the locals will have an advantage?
Absolutely. They have an amazing understanding of what waves will be the best. And a really good idea of where they are in the wave/lineup to make sure they are getting the deepest barrels they can.
Are you confident in your chances out there?
Who do you think are the favorites to win and who are your dark horse picks?
Mark and Koby are going to be really hard to beat. There are no dark horses, everyone in the event is a threat and a world-class surfer.
Ours is known to deal out serious punishment every time it breaks, are you worried that there might be serious injuries at the event?
Hopefully we can all send it and come in safe ... But s--t happens.