Sydney, Australia, July 6, 2009 – O’Neill surfer Mark Mathews has scored one of the biggest and heaviest barrels ever ridden – in shark infested waters some 20km off the coast of Western Australia.
“It had been really slow all day and I hadn’t had any good ones,” said Mathews. “Then this mountain came roaring out from the horizon I got goose bumps all over as soon as I saw it. I looked up at Hippo (Ryan Hipwood) who was on the jet ski and he didn’t even smile he just said ‘this thing’s huge.’
“There was so much water sucking off the reef. I just kept my eyes right in front of me and hoped the corner of the barrel wasn’t about to lip me in the head.”
“Big barrels like that feel like they are alive,” said Mathews, trying to describe the sensation. “They suck all the air inside. That’s what surfers mean when they say they felt the wave take a breath.
“You feel like you’re surrounded by the whole ocean. The air has nowhere left to go and just gets spat out into the channel, taking you with it. This is the feeling that keeps coming back over and over and over again.”
“This one can be topped,” said Mathews. “It’s the thrill of the chase that keeps me going.”