Friday, February 15, 2008

WA surfer wins Biggest Wave Award - The Sunday Times - February 14, 2008

WEST Australian surfer Alex "Alfy" Cater not only survived riding a terrifying 14m wave but beat some of the nation's best surfers while he was doing it.

Carter rode into first place at the Oakley Surfing Life Biggest Wave Awards, held in Sydney this year, by surfing a 14m high wave at 'Cow Bombie’ near Margaret River.

He edged out three other rides, recorded on the same day by Queenslander Mark Visser and Hawaiians Jamie Sterling and Ian Walsh, who travelled halfway round the globe to meet the swell at Cow Bombie last September.

“It was a pretty big day,” says Alfy. “Right after a storm. The wind backed off and we thought, let’s do it.”

Cater just missed out on the big prize last year after placing runner-up to Damon Eastaugh.

This year there was no second best for Carter who took home $20,000 and a new jet ski with his first prize win.

Alfy’s reaction? “A sigh of relief really mate,” he says. “Now I can pay the taxman all the money I’ve owed him for the past few years.”

The award will open doors for him in the growing global big-wave competition field, he says.

Alongside this award, big surf competitions are now held in South Africa, Hawaii and California.

“It’s something I really want to pursue if I can … I’ve been to Hawaii and California and met a lot of the guys who ride their big spots and I’d love to challenge them.”

The jet ski will come in handy too . Not long ago, Alfy and his tow partner Ian “Wooly” McPherson had to abandon their ski under a massive set of 10m waves waves at Cow Bombie.

“The ski conked out about three metres from the worst possible spot . We got three waves on the head and that was it for the ski.”

The fact that they were six kilometres from land at the time barely raises Alfy’s eyebrow – which is a little clue as to the sort of person who takes on surf in this range.

Since being inaugurated five years ago, the Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards have revealed a side of surfing long hidden behind the glittering world pro tour arena – a group of surfers who’ve used their home-grown skills and experience to push the sport’s natural limits, often without much publicity or attention outside their peers and slightly horrified onlookers.

“We’re all pretty rough and ready I suppose but we’re doing this because we love it,” he says. “In a way this award might change some things for me but it won’t change why I go surfing.”

As for Wooly, who towed him into the Award-winner: “He owns a surf shop and he’s one of my sponsors, so he won’t be seeing the colour of my money!” Alfy laughs.

Best Overall Performance Award for the season went to Tasmania’s Marti Paradisis, who said he was “over the moon” after his series of amazing tube rides at the Apple Isle’s remote Shipstern Bluff reef break swept the judging panel’s vote.

“It’s on behalf of all the guys I surf with at ‘Shippies’ and who I know could win this Award too …we’re stoked to have waves in our backyard that are as good as anywhere in the world ..” he says.

The Shooter Award for photography went to Jamie Scott for his image of Cater’s winning ride.

Media Man Australia Profiles