The Bosanquet Bombora
60km off the coast of somewhere in South Australia lay a dormant ocean wave, a beast that only comes alive during precise weather and ocean conditions.
I'd found it using ocean maps and naval charts, then delved deeper asking some of the local fishos whether they thought I was onto something. They had seen rogue waves out there, but waves you’d want to avoid. They didn’t reckon anyone would want to go out and find a wave like that. But that was exactly what I was after. A wave no one in their right mind would ride. A monster wave.
It took four years for the project to come together. I was joined by a 'who's who' of big wave crew - local legend Jeff Schmucker, Jamie Mitchell, Billy Watson, Marty Paradisis, James Holmer-Cross, Richie "Vas" Vaculik and Mark Visser. Nicky (RIP) was our boat captain on the Bosenquet trawler and we set to sea in a calm conditions. But that was all to change.
Just 40 mins after leaving port gale force winds picked up and the ocean swell jumped. Our 100ft trawler was being swamped with over the roof surges hitting us head on. The three jet skis in tow were being thrown all over the place and on top of each other. They looked like corks on the lines. It got to the stage we didn't care about the skis, we were just handing on for dear life. The ocean was so wild we couldn't turn the boat fearing be capsized so we had to hold course. Eight brutal hours later we reached the leeward side of an island and anchored up. One ski had its hull filled with water, but miraculously all the skis still worked.
We hid behind the island for four full days until the wind slowly backed off, then mad a last dash out to the seamount. Using a GPS we found the vicinity of the where the remote wave should be, but nothing was happening. We waited an hour and suddenly out of a nowhere a peak stood up and threw out a weary barrel and then disappeared. We looked at each other. And waited. Another 40 minutes later another behemoth appeared and the boys suited up and jumped into the ocean. There was no lineup as such as there were no land markings, just our trawler bobbing up and down in the middle of nowhere. Just surfers waiting on the water for a monster to emerge.
Over the next few hours a couple of huge waves came through and the boys took to them like there was no tomorrow. I was shooting from up high on a mast, getting flung side to side with each ocean roll. How I didn't get pitched into the ocean I really don’t know. Hand holding a 600mm lens with one arm wrapped around a pole and then other pushing the trigger was probably the most arduous workout I've ever been put through. I’m honestly not sure how I sustained it for several hours.
Mission accomplished. We couldn’t believe we’ve found it, ridden it and survived the voyage. That evening we enjoyed cold bottles of South Australia's finest Coopers Pale Ale and king prawns while we cruised back to the coast in perfect weather conditions. Despite the hideous beating we went through to score the wave, everyone onboard would do it again tomorrow.
It just so happens I've found another location that has never seen a surfer and it lies far off the coast... Hopefully it won't take another four years for the conditions to align, but if so I'm sure it will be worth the wait 🌊🌊🌊