EVENT UPDATE: Red Bull Cape Fear will now run on Sunday, August 31. First call is set for 7:30 a.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time. In the US, that's Saturday, August 30, 2:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. ET.
With just days left in the official event waiting period, Red Bull Cape Fear has been given the green light to proceed with waves in excess of eight feet expected to ravage the Botany Bay point in Australia this Saturday, or Friday in the U.S. First call is set for 7:30 a.m. Sydney time, which will be 2:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. ET.
Just when surfing fans thought they’d had their fill of big-wave excitement following this week’s historic Billabong Pro Tahiti, the surfing gods have offered up a main course and dessert of epic proportions.
Never before has the surfing world seen the revolutionary boxing card-style format that will be employed at Red Bull Cape Fear. And there has never been a contest at what many consider to be the most dangerous wave in the world.
Mark Mathews, the contest director and a competitor, has surfed the biggest, heaviest waves on the planet, and by his expert opinion the Red Bull Cape Fear wave is pound-for-pound, the heaviest on earth.
With a forceful east-south-east swell and off-shore winds pushing into Sydney’s Botany Bay, the Pacific Ocean hits a razor sharp ledge before pitching anywhere from eight-to-10 feet and then breaking on an unforgiving cliff’s edge just meters away.
For years, only locals such as Mathews and Koby Abberton have dared ride it at its most deadly, with many a surfer coming unstuck and suffering serious injury -- sometimes life-long.
But after more than two years of preparations and months of waiting, Mathews and company will welcome the likes of professional big-wave veterans, such as Shane Dorian, Bruce Irons, Ian Walsh, Jamie O’Brien and more to their home wave in a battle of the world’s best.
Completing the world class lineup, local wildcards, such as Maroubra’s Jesse Polock will step up to the plate, against the best in the world, to showcase what they have to offer.
Expert surf forecasters Coastalwatch have predicted ideal swell for the event to take place this weekend. And for the uninitiated, Mathews says Cape Fear is even more daunting than it sounds. “There’s no wave in the world from six-to-10 feet that is heavier or more dangerous," he says.
"Deep water swell pitch on a super shallow ledge that’s covered with razorblade barnacles and then it breaks only 10-15 meters from the cliff face. If you fall off and don’t hit the bottom, chances are you’re going to get washed in to that cliff face. There are plenty of dangers and only few willing to navigate them.”
And as if the event wasn’t already exciting enough as it is, the competitors will contest the brutal wave in two disciplines – tow-in with jet-ski assist and the most difficult task in surfing, paddling into monsters.
Only three of four times a year does Cape Fear come to life, which means competitors will have 48 hours from now to descend on Sydney from all corners of the globe. Jet-lagged or not, they will be competing for survival as much as the coveted prize purse and honor of being crowned the inaugural Red Bull Cape Fear champion.
“I know everyone is super excited to see the event run,” says Mathews, who is on a redeye flight back from the US this very moment. “I get asked when the contest is running about three times a day so to have it actually come to life, I couldn’t be more excited. Or scared.”