Outside Fourmile - The Movie

Saturday 28th June 2003

When I opened the front door in the morning and looked out at the rivermouth I knew immediately the surf had the bit extra grunt. It was far from the largest I had seen it but it looked rather big. Being winter and reasonably cold, both air and sea it took little convincing my conscious mind that today I would be the surf photographer.

Where would it be happening though, the swell was running at between 8 – 10 ft with sneakers coming through at 12ft +. The East Coast is not noted for large waves, it is generally a trip to the west coast to test the guile. I packed the cameras without the surfboard and headed south toward Fourmile. I thought it may be too large for there as well and would travel further south if nothing was in that area.

It was a bright sunny day with a southwest blowing lightly into this large northeast groundswell. When I drove into Fourmile carpark, it was full of cars, vans etc. but none parked in the normal positions to look out on the fourmile break. The cars were all facing toward the break we call Outside Fourmile, a reef point break that works very sporadically throughout the year, even less than the Swansea Points.
I looked over toward the point and could see small black dots scurrying away from very large rollers, which seemed intent on crushing the small black dots. The point is almost a kilometer from the car park but the waves looked very intense to say the least. I did not feel any surfsocial pressure to grab my board and do battle, I do not think I would be here to write the story if I had put on a brave exterior, but shitting myself on the inside, and paddled out.

I decided to grab my cameras and get a closer look at the wave face. There seemed to be about 10 people out on the break, trying to ride the shoulder or the end section, some of the waves were rolling all the way through to the cove. When I began walking across the paddock toward the break I saw a couple of shoulder rides and two guys getting washed back toward the boatramp, one was swimming and the other lying very still on the surfboard. I heard the story later of what happened.
Prinz and Haggis, a couple of old timers from way back in the annals of tas surf history had decided they were 25 years old again and very surf fit and able to take on anything that the ocean could dish up to them. The trouble is they are double that age, can still surf but Hawaiians they are not! Anyway apparently so the story goes they both were out the back or so they thought when a set rolled in and stood up on the outside outside reef and this 12ft solid wall exploded on the two of them, blasting them in a surfball, sucking them under, entangling their legropes and began to suck them under and washing them through the boulders underwater back down the point. Prinz said there were another five of these monsters hit them, keeping them down, in Haggis case almost for the count. Haggis with a long underwater history in the diving business said it was the closest he has come to drowning.

Anyway Prinz got out of the impact zone and Haggis came to the surface, basically "done for" and still in the zone. Haggis called out to his old mate for a helping hand, Prinz looked out at the lifezone of unbroken water and freedom for a second but turned back in like the true champion he is. Paddled back into the impact zone to the limp and spewing haggis, handed him his board ( haggis’s board had been washed away) and began to swim. Prinz said later that he was so full of adrenaline at this stage he could have swam around tassy. There is a story going round that Haggis did offer Prinz his Range Rover if he would rescue him.
Moral to the story – "the ocean rules".
I set up the cameras and began to take video and still photos of some of the waves that were ridden that day. It was one of those classic days with just a few classic rides and its good to see that we have developed some young offspring who can casually slide into 12ft+. I have seen Ben shred 3 –4ft but this day he seemed to come of age as you will see on the video, casually and fearlessly sliding into a couple of mammoth ones. Sticky went out with his boy to show him the ropes and always let Ben know when the big ones were coming as he scrambled toward the deep water. Walter rode a real beauty and eluded the foamball. No-one rode the takeoff zone – perfect tubing and blowing smoke out of the barrel 12 fters rolled in empty. Hope you enjoy the footage and the still shots of this rare surf creature Outside Fourmile.

Just click on each photo to see the enlarged one.

Outside Fourmile - The Movie