Behind the Cover
Tasmanian madman Kyron Rathbone talks about his May cover shot
Kyron Rathbone. What a name. He hails from the rugged northwest coast of Tasmania, where he’s often found deep in the barrel of some unreasonably shallow slab. He’s now also found on the cover of our May Issue, which dissects the current state of big-wave surfing. Though the humble Rathbone is quick to dispel comparisons to big-wave surfing’s elite, it undoubtedly takes a certain moxie to whip into a wave like that one. It was his first shot in a surf magazine, and thus his first cover. “My mum is frooothing over it!” he told us. So are we, Kyron.
How did you find yourself surfing this wave?
Living in northwest Tasmania, there are some fun waves around, but it takes a lot of driving to find them. The wave from the cover is four hours from where I live, in a little town surrounded by slabbing reef breaks. It’s pretty fickle, but when it’s on there are plenty of spots to choose from. When I got a call that it was on, I was frothing.
Can you describe the scene at this slab that morning?
We got there and the wind had just backed off. I had never been out there before, and a crew of Tassie’s finest was on it early and towing into some pretty mutant slabs. There were just big, perfect barrels. I have never seen a wave bend and warp so hard, and all onto a completely exposed slab of reef. I sat in the channel on my board watching the guys cheat death on every wave, some skimming the rocky ledge with their hands on their bottom turns.
Were there any mishaps during all that madness?
The heaviest thing I saw that morning was this sponger, Matthew Jager, who tried to paddle into one before changing his mind and pulling back, only to get sucked over the falls onto the dry rock shelf sitting a few feet out of the water. He got so flogged, and I honestly thought he was dead. He took awhile to surface, and although he was a bit shaken, he made it back out to the channel with a grin on his face. It was the craziest wipeout I’ve ever seen.
How did you end up on the wave from the cover?
I sat in the channel for two hours watching it all unfold before Marti Paradisis came over on the ski and asked if I wanted a go. I was frothing and grabbed the rope straight away. It was the first wave that came our way, and it looked solid. Without thinking twice we were up and after it. I let go of the rope too early and had to hop my board to get into it. The whole slab was bone dry in front of me, and I managed to negotiate around the rock and handle the step in the takeoff, before looking up to realize I was 15 feet too deep inside the biggest, greenest glass house I had ever seen. As the shockwave caught up to me it felt like a state of suspended animation—just kind of floating in space before being pushed super deep on the other side of the reef. It was the nicest wipeout I’ve ever had in a wave that size…actually super peaceful.
And when you saw you got the cover, what went through your mind?
When I found out I got the cover of SURFER I was speechless. Never in a million years would I have thought that would happen. I feel like I’m the worst house on the best street, with all the talented surfers out there. It’s so crazy. I got super lucky that day, everyone was charging and I was just in the right place at the right time. I am so stoked and so grateful to the people that helped make it happen: Marti, Chizza, Gibbo and all the other boys out there that day…FRICKEN LEGENDS! [sic]