Between surfing Jaws and promoting a new specialist event at Ours, Mark Mathews is perhaps the hardest-working man in big-wave surfing. For the past decade, the 30-year-old Australian from Maroubra, Sydney, has spent every waking moment chasing the biggest waves on the planet. This wave here, a Billabong XXL contender for ride of the year, was caught at Jaws, a notorious big-wave spot in Hawaii.
"I surfed Jaws four times this winter," Mathews told GrindTV.com. "Every time I saw a swell, I jumped on a plane from Australia and bombed it straight there. It was a lot of miles, but when you catch a wave like this, it is all worth it."
The wave featured a big, clean barrel, the ultimate goal when surfing a place like Jaws. "I got a roll into it from behind the peak, so the drop was real easy,'' Mathews explains. "It was so weird being in a barrel on a board so big. There is no pumping to go faster. You just have to set your line and hope for the best. Lucky the wave was so perfect it did all the work for me. It was like 15-foot Ours, with a bending west bowl."
The last reference is to a wave called Ours, located in Sydney. In between chasing and catching monster waves all around the world, Mathews has also found the time to create a specialist, made-for-TV big-wave competition that will be held at Ours, called Red Bull Cape Fear. "I have been surfing this wave for a decade and know that pound for pound it is one of the heaviest waves on the planet. I’ve always known it is the ideal location for a really special event and have worked for the last couple of years to make it happen," continued Mathews. "Deep-water swells pitch on a super-shallow ledge that’s covered with razor-blade barnacles and then it breaks only 10 to 15 meters from the cliff face. Even getting out of the water up the rocks can be a terrifying experience,” he said.
The invite-only event will feature surfers like Alex Gray, Shane Dorian, Ian Walsh, Bruce Irons, Koby Abberton, and Dave Rastovich, competing in a new format that Mathews says will be "a one-on-one battle to the death—possibly quite literally." The event waiting period starts in April. Check out the clip here to see what just might be surfing’s most exciting, and dangerous, competition.