Riding big waves is a challenge in so many ways. Never something to be taken lightly you face razor sharp coral. shallow reefs, sharks, cold water, rocks, currants and tons of water trying to tear you apart, but there is something totally sinister about a wave that has many faces and an ever changing mood.
Just off the coast of Australia is little island called Tasmania, where the water is super cold, the sharks are waiting for you in the depths and the wave is like an ex-girlfriend that has seen you out with her best mate. Off the south end of Tasmania is a wave that slams headlong into a 40 foot rock sheer rock face at the end of a two-hour hike through thick bush. It’s satans favourite wave which was once aptly named Devil’s Point. This is Shipstern.
Shipstern Bluff is a right breaking mutant wave that slams over a massive hunk of granite. Waves pour in from deep water and release with unholy power over that rocky ledge and slam into a mass of boulders. What’s more is that the water is below freezing, so your 4/3 wetsuit, gloves and booties will make that 30 foot, morphing multi-level drop even more difficult.
Some say that credit must go to Andy Campbell for first surfing Shipstern Bluff in 1997, however Matt Griggs book, “Surfers” interviewed David Guiney who had paddled out with Mark Jackson back in 1986. According to Guiney he had surfed this spot for years by himself. In 2001, Guiney introduced pro surfers, Kieren Perrow, Mark Matthews and Drew Courtney – time to take it public.
The uniqueness of Shipstern is not in the wave size – this wave deforms and mutates, with every minor shift in conditions having a massive effect on its rideability.
Most visiting pros find it more than they bargained for and locals have taken infinite near death drags into the rocks before they fully understand the waves shifting personalities.