Article

Crushed in West Oz

Mark Mathews on the monster from our March issue

| posted on February 17, 2012

Mark Mathews, pulling into a monster in West Oz. Photo: Collins

Mark Mathews has to make some difficult decisions on occasion. When he took off on this West Australian monster, known simply as “The Right,” he had two options: straighten out and face the guillotine, or pull into the giant cement mixer. He went with the latter and took quite a beating, but because of that call we’re left with this amazing image, which graced the pages of our March issue. I rang Mark in Hawaii to find out why he would pull into such a beast.

Is this wave usually pretty makeable, or are there a lot of closeouts?

Oh man, I’ve surfed it where almost every wave is just completely perfect. It’s just that swell was sort of late in the season and the tides were a bit more drastic—they were way lower at that time of year and I think that was making it close out. It just wasn’t holding because of how big the swell was.

What was going through your head when you dropped into that one? Did you know from the get-go that you were screwed?

When I saw it out the back, I knew it was the biggest one of the day. And I’d seen a couple when I was watching in the channel that were makeable and nearly that big. When I was whipping into it, I was just hoping that it would hit the reef right and just be perfect. But I let go of the rope and just as I got to the bottom of it, it just went real weird on the reef. It sort of hugged the corner of the reef and that’s what makes it close out. I was just like, “Fuck!” You know, there was nothing I could do but try and pull in.

When you’re in that situation, do you think it’s better for your health to pull in or to try to straighten out?

I think on that wave it was definitely safer to pull in. If you can outrun the lip and get out in front of it, then it’s probably better to straighten out. But just the way the lip on that wave pitches, and where I was—kind of getting sucked up the face—there was no way I would’ve been able to outrun it. You’ve got no choice. You’re better off pulling into the barrel and just trying to get away from the force of that lip.

How rattled did you get from the power of that wave?

It was pretty violent. It wasn’t a long hold-down, but it was just super violent. It was just trying to tear my body apart. I was doing like a hundred cartwheels and somersaults under the water, but it wasn’t long. There were a couple that day, like Hippo [Ryan Hipwood] got one that day that was almost a three-wave hold-down. I was kind of lucky that I didn’t get held down for too long.

Was that your last wave of the session?

Nah, I stayed out for a bit after that—with a smile on my face [laughs].

Was it all worth it?

Yeah I got one pretty sick one after that. It wasn’t as big, but it was sick. It hit the reef perfect and was a big one, so it was worth risking it again.

Below is the entire sequence shot by Ray Collins:

  • Stephen

    No matter where I go I see mark taking off on some beastly wave. you make us normal surfers look like bitches. Madd respect

  • Phillip

    I would have made that

  • Fernando

    I wonder :was anybody paddle surfing this day? Seems too much for paddle,,,,,,,…..but there are 2 guys in the back of the wave.

  • Hotdog

    @fernando the two out the back appear to be spongers.

  • pierre

    that has to be the nightmare wave of all time.

  • jjames

    How do you even begin ~ to explain that to your mother?!

  • http://josmanhermanos.com chema?

    how was he felt?was the moment the wordt in his life?

  • http://Facebook steven

    That is some tonage of wave to look up at, My heart would have been pounding, I had one roll me up about 3/4 that size in Alcapulco Mexico and I kept on rolling and rolling untill I lost several inches of epidermis on the bottom, Most exciting ride of my life, Adrenaline pumping stoked!

  • Courtney

    I honestly don’t know if I could’ve made that decision – I probably would’ve panicked, taken the lip and …yikes. Good move on making that decisions. Seriously.

  • Koby

    I can’t believe he didnt try and float that section! soft…….

    only joking! crazy stuff

  • cody ricci

    Ohhhh no this is going to hurt……..I no I would of panicked and not be here today.sick wave and mad respect to Mark Matthews!

  • aleixo silva

    será que o cara sobreviveu….

  • http://surfstarmorocco.com Surf Star Morocco

    this is painful to watch ! madd respect – i second that!

  • http://wwomp.com WOMP

    That’s a few tons of water crashing down! WWOMP WWOMP!

  • Michael Gruszka

    JESUS CHRIST! I SPOKE TO HIM TODAY AT CHURCH. HE AND I CHATTED FOR AWHILE AND WONDERED WHAT KIND OF A MAN COULD PULL THIS OFF? HE HAD NO ANSWER. BUT, I REPLIED, ” NO MAN, A MONSTER OF A MAN, THAT ONLY EXIST INSIDE EACH AND EVERYONE OF US.” EXCELLENT SHOWING THE REST OF THE WORLD THAT WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING TO GIVE.

  • Tammy

    excelente!!!!

  • http://www.nicksoper.com Nick Soper

    That is completely mental! But I love how I can see the photos.

  • TIMAU Emile

    where are you at the end ?????

  • http://Wade'sCreativeSuite.com Wadai

    That’s awesome. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to ride that one.

  • Nick Kiefer

    I dunno man. It looks like he’d have been better off trying to out-run it. It didn’t pitch that much further, and the mass behind that beast seems like would roll you forever. But then again, that could and probably would happen if you tried to out-run it too. There would be no way to navigate that much water behind you.