Pointbreak on ABC
They are an elite breed who thrive on adrenaline, skill and mountains of moving water to practise their art and for big wave surfer Dylan Longbottom, the bigger the wave, the better.
Longbottom is one of the best big wave riders in the world, specialising in surfing what is widely regarded as the thickest, “slabbiest” big wave spot on the planet — Teahupoo in Tahiti.
A coral reef just 51 centimetres below the water’s surface serves up enormous, thick hollow barrels of water capable of causing serious injury or death in the event of a wipeout.
Longbottom grew up in Kiama, a town not famous for big waves.
But as a young surfer, or “grommet”, he was more than able to get his fill of the surf.
“We do have a few big wave spots; they don’t get big that often. Mostly autumn is our time of year, and winter,” Longbottom said.
“They do get big and as a kid they are big, we do get six to 10-foot waves here.”
Surfers measure waves in feet, not metres, and from the back of the wave rather than the front, so ten feet is huge, even for most experienced surfers.
“Big waves are over what surfers call ten feet, which is more like 15-foot faces, so anything like 15-foot faces, up to 100-foot faces,” Longbottom said.