Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mark Visser eyes 18m swell at Cow Bombie, By Lou Robson - The Sunday Mail - 2nd September 2007

*Four-storey waves not enough for big-wave surfer
*WA's Cow Bombie may reach record 18m today
*Aussie Visser part of 30-man elite team

BIG-wave hunter Mark Visser is ready to tame Australia's most terrifying surf spot today.The 25-year-old from Buderim on the Sunshine Coast has just conquered New Zealand's meanest wave.

He fought off a viral infection and braved 8C water temperatures to ride 13m walls of water - the equivalent of four-storey buildings. But apparently the waves, which broke at Papatowai on New Zealand's South Island, just weren't big enough.

Today the former World Qualifying Series surfer is set for the ride of his life at a little-known West Australian reef break called Cow Bombie.

"If the conditions are right, it could be up to 60ft (18m)," Visser said. "It's a massive wave which rarely breaks and it's the biggest wave in the country."

The fearsome break drew international attention when top pro Jake Patterson surfed it at between 10m and 13m in June last year.

Big wave riders from Hawaii were shocked by the size of the swell, never before seen in Australian waters.

It was believed the wave could reach a record 18m today.

"It's a big wave all right," Visser said. "My Hawaiian tow partner Jamie Sterling and I are heading over to check it out and if the conditions are right we'll be out there."

A low off Margaret River, south of Perth, could generate enough swell to form huge waves offshore.The deep water reef lies 2km off the coastal community of Gracetown, 280km south of Perth.

"The conditions look promising. I'm pretty excited," Visser said.

The Victorian-born surfer, who used to compete against stars such as Kelly Slater and Mark Occhilupo, left the WQS last year to travel the world as part of a 30-strong team of elite big-wave surfers.

In November, Visser was one of six international surfers picked to surf Mavericks off the coast of California. Waves at the notorious spot, which boasts rocks, white pointers, black water and heavy fog, were between 12m and 18m high.

"That was heavy, but nowhere near as cold as New Zealand."

Papatowai has a bad reputation. The big wave spot is an isolated and cold break - home to Antarctic swell, dangerous rips and big sharks.

Due to the cold conditions, Visser sported a vest, wetsuit, gloves, booties and hood.

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Mark Visser


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